What a difference four years make. Back in 2007, the only subject the presidential hopefuls talked about was mortgages.
In fact, it got to a point where it became nauseating, all the talk about mortgages and loan modifications and foreclosures and housing woes.
At the time, the candidates’ lack of knowledge surrounding those subjects was also painfully clear; they stumbled when trying to explain what exactly was going on, but pledged to do whatever it took to help turn things around.
Leading up to this year’s round of debates, I had paper and pen out, ready to jot down all the interesting mortgage references, and then pick them apart.
But as the night went on, I pushed my pad of paper to the side of me, capped my pen, and realized there weren’t going to be any mentions of housing woes or foreclosures or any of it.
Apparently such talk is “so four years ago.”
What Exactly Was Said?
Well, funnily enough, the first mention of “mortgage” didn’t even come from one of the candidates, but rather from an audience member, who asked about the future of the mortgage interest deduction, along with other deductions.
The question was for Romney, who responded by saying deductions would be reduced, perhaps to a fixed number such as $25,000, and then you could decide which deductions to take using that money.
So you could use it all on the mortgage deduction, or spread it among charitable and child tax deductions as well.
Of course, Romney also pledged to lower the tax rate, so even though deductions were on the chopping block, theoretically you’d save money.
And that was that. Not another word about mortgage or housing or foreclosures or anything else. Obama didn’t even take the opportunity to tout the record low mortgage rates or the recent drop in foreclosures.
Why It’s Good
So, what to make of all this? Well, an optimist would say that because it wasn’t discussed, the worst must be behind us.
Perhaps the mortgage crisis is in our rearview mirror now, and we can focus on other, more important issues, such as nagging unemployment.
After all, home prices are on the up and up, and millions of existing homeowners are getting their heads back above water as a result.
Demand for housing is also strong, perhaps because of the lack of inventory, and homebuilders are the most optimistic they’ve been in six years. Maybe they’ll build more homes to satisfy our hunger.
Additionally, the bevy of loan modification and large-scale refinance programs available seem to be working, as evidenced by the latest HARP figures released yesterday.
Even Bank of America’s chief financial officer believes we have turned the corner on housing, “clearly.”
Why It’s Bad
At the same time, the lack of any housing talk could be interpreted as bad news as well, depending upon your situation.
Not in the sense that the candidates are avoiding the subject because it’s a scary topic, but rather that it might mean no more help is on the way, or in the barrel.
If Obama and Romney aren’t talking about housing woes anymore, what would the motivation be to introduce new initiatives to help existing homeowners?
Have all the cards been played? What happened to that last-minute mega refinance program aimed at helping every single struggling homeowner save money on their monthly mortgage payment, even those without government-backed mortgages?
Maybe the candidates assessed the situation and decided no further action was necessary, or worthy enough to push for in order to get a few million votes.
Or perhaps they just realized it would be impossible to introduce any new measures to combat the problems, as bipartisan support would be needed.
Long story short, you got your help and you’re on your own now. That is, unless there is an eleventh hour gift yet to be unveiled.
For the record, the word “mortgage” was only uttered eight times in the first debate, and nothing noteworthy was said that time either.