By Peter Ricci
More than a month ago, we asked why housing, despite its overwhelming importance to the U.S. economy, was not coming up on the presidential campaign trail, and now that the conventions have come and gone – and the official party platforms have been adopted by the two main parties – we are wondering the same thing.
Will the candidates address housing as a major campaign issue?
In addition to nominating its candidate for the presidency, the conventions also unite the party’s main factions under an official party platform – and for the Democrats and Republicans alike, housing is featured prominently in their respective platforms.
The Republican Party Platform – Private Financing and MID
For the Republican Party platform, housing appears fairly early on the fourth page of the document, and a full page of policy recommendations follow, including:
- Minimizing government presence in the mortgage markets (particularly that of the FHA) and giving private lenders more control over housing finance.
- Winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in both size and scope.
- Ensuring that banks are properly capitalized to counter any downturns in the marketplace.
- Effectively balancing housing policy to defend the rights of not only homeowners, but also renters and citizens living in multifamily dwellings.
- And finally, preserving the mortgage interest tax deduction (this commitment appears on page 25), a controversy we’ve covered already.
The Democratic Party Platform – Policy Review
The Democrat’s Party Platform also mentions housing early on, and, coincidentally, like the party platform for the Republicans it also does so on page four. Unlike the Republicans, though, the Democrats do not offer much in the way of new policy:
- Instead, the Democrats focus on the cause of the housing bust – which they amount to irresponsible lending – and President Obama’s response to the housing crisis – which involved the first-time homebuyer tax credit, the restructuring of loans and new regulations for financial institutions.
- The party platform then devotes its final paragraph to Obama’s refinancing plan, a policy he originally announced during his 2012 State of the Union address that would allow more homeowners to refinance their mortgages at today’s historically low rates.
- Similarly, there are brief mentions of housing for veterans and affordable housing measures in American cities, but nothing extensive is mentioned about either policy.
So now that the party platforms officially recognize housing, will the candidates begin talking about it? Some outlets have their doubts, but aside from the campaigns, there is one date we can anticipate where housing may come up – Oct. 3, when the first presidential debate will take place.