SO ROAD WARRIOR HAS COME TO ANOTHER END IN THE ROAD. [paragraph] It's been more than four years since I took over this column from my good friend
NEIL MORSE, whose road ended too soon when he lost his battle with cancer. Fortunately, my demise will not be so tragic, nor so permanent.
I have seen several "ends" in my 51year journalism career. Two newspapers where I toiled--The Washington Daily News and then The Washington Star--shut down unexpectedly. And my 31-year journey as a full-paid/part-time reporter with National Thrift News, now National Mortgage News (NMN), came to a close rather unceremoniously in September 2013.
But I will continue to appear in other venues. My weekly consumer column, the Housing Scene, still runs in newspapers throughout the country, and I continue to write occasionally for NMN. Plus I handle numerous writing assignments for other publications, blogs and websites. So while I will miss my Road Warrior persona--and hopefully you will, too--look for me elsewhere.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
The presidential candidates--sort of-- finally got around to discussing housing in August in separate appearances at a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) conference at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
As her emissary, Democratic hopeful HILLARY CLINTON sent GENE SPERLING, one of her top economic advisers, who vowed that housing will play an important role in a Clinton administration.
"For Hillary Clinton, growing middleclass jobs and middle-income security is the single lens in which she will judge economic policy," Sperling told the NAHB's board of directors at their Midyear Meeting. "What better helps the middle class than housing? Housing creates jobs in the United States. There is probably no other sector that creates jobs throughout [all] income levels."
Agreeing with builders and many others that the credit pendulum has swung too far in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Sperling, an economist who was director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy under Presidents BILL CLINTON and BARACK OBAMA, said the "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." On the issue of housing finance reform, the Clinton adviser said "a government backstop" is essential to protect the 30-year mortgage. "You need a backstop to ensure the United States of America still has a 30-year fixed mortgage. That is something that gives people the opportunity to become homeowners in this country," he said.
Sperling also said that if Clinton is elected, she will defend and expand the low-income housing tax credit, focus on major infrastructure improvements and retain the mortgage interest deduction-- but cap the marginal rate at which taxpayers can take the write-off at 28 percent. That way, he said, the benefit will remain "completely...