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Housing policy makes headway as campaign issue

Housing policy is beginning to gain some traction in the presidential campaign.  

In speeches in August, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offered up sharply different views on regulations that affect the mortgage and housing markets.

TrumpSpeaking at the midyear meeting of National Association of Home Builders on Aug. 11, Trump said excessive regulations are costing the economy as much as $2 trillion annually. The real estate magnate called for a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations and would have federal agencies prepare a list of all regulations and then rank them from most critical to the health and safety to least critical, with the least critical receiving priority consideration for repeal.  

“No one other than the energy industry is regulated more than the homebuilding industry,” Trump said during the Miami speech.“Twenty-five percent of the cost of a home [is due to regulation]. I think we should get that down to about 2 percent.”

Earlier in the speech, Trump also said that financial regulations are making it "impossible to get a mortgage." 

"Unless you have a lot of money in the bank, or you don't need money, you can't borrow," Trump said. 

Clinton calls for tougher regulations

During her economic speech in Detroit, Clinton defended regulations on banks and Wall Street.

Clinton pic“Trump would roll back the rules we have imposed on the financial industry,” she said. “I will do the opposite. I think we should strengthen those rules, so Wall Street can never wreck Main Street again.” 

Clinton also said Trump would abolish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which she said had returned $11 billion to 25 million wronged American consumers.

“Why would you get rid of that?” she asked.

Trump has not called for the CFPB to be eliminated. House Republicans are proposing to rename the agency and substantially reform it under the leadership of a bipartisan commission, however.

Trump has previously called for the repeal of Dodd-Frank, the sweeping 2010 law that created the CFPB. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, also was a strong critic of Dodd-Frank while a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Pence also opposed the 2008 bailout of the banks in the final year of the Bush administration. 

During an Aug. 10 speech at NAHB’s meeting in Miami, Clinton’s top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, said Clinton recognizes that housing is a major jobs creator and that access to credit is still overly tight.

"Our challenge now is to never swing back to where we were, but to get to an equilibrium where people who are creditworthy can get the housing they need," Sperling said. "This will lead to increased housing starts, construction and affordable housing, which we need in this country."

Clinton supports expanding the low-income housing-tax credit, a federal program that provides an incentive for developers to build affordable-rental units. Sperling also said Clinton supports relaxing land-use regulations and increasing grant programs that support affordable-rental housing.

She also would push for reforms that would put community banks on a level field with big banks, Sperling said. Clinton wants to preserve the mortgage interest-rate deduction, but only for borrowers who fall below the 28 percent tax bracket.

During the Republican primaries, Trump spoke out against changing the mortgage-interest deduction when Republican candidate Ben Carson floated the idea of getting rid of it.


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