The GOP takes aim at regulation while Dems seek more affordable housing.
The presidential candidates haven’t said much about housing or mortgage finance on the campaign trail but housing has always been a fundamental plank of each party platform.
Owning a home — the American Dream — has long been viewed as a wealth builder with the power to provide economic stability to families and to the country as a whole.
In August, GOP nominee Donald Trump spoke to the National Association of Home Builders, and lamented the amount of regulation on the industry.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, hasn’t focused on housing on the campaign trail although her running mate, Tim Kaine, recently penned a CNN op-ed with a pledge to fight housing discrimination and skyrocketing rents if elected.
With so little said on housing as we approach the first televised presidential debate, scheduled for Sept. 26. GoRion decided to look at how each candidate may address housing issues if elected based on their respective party platforms. Additional presidential debates are scheduled for Oct. 9 and Oct. 19.
To avoid any appearance of favoring one party over the other, we’ll go by the age-old practice of alphabetical order to discuss each platform’s stance on housing.
Democrats support expanded access to housing
The 2016 Democratic platform expresses concern about rising rents and says it will work to increase the supply of affordable rental housing by easing “local barriers” to building new affordable rental housing. The party plans to increase funding to the National Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve and rehabilitate affordable rental housing, an action it says will also create jobs.
For homebuyers, the Democratic platform says it will preserve the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, modernize credit scoring, clarify lending rules and expand
access to housing counseling.
“We must make sure that everyone has a fair shot at homeownership,” the platform says. “We will keep the housing market robust and inclusive by supporting more first-time homebuyers and putting more Americans into the financial position to become sustainable homeowners.”
The Democrats say they will defend and strengthen the Fair Housing Act and ensure that regulators have the clear direction, resources and authority to enforce fair housing rules. The party contends it will vigorously defend the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), which was signed into law by President Obama in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. “We will stop dead in its tracks every Republican effort to weaken it,” the platform says.
The platform also says the party will guard against predatory lending by defending the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and fighting efforts to change its structure. The CFPB was created under Dodd-Frank to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive financial practices, including those in the mortgage industry.
The Democratic platform never mentions Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the Federal Housing Administration.
Republicans raise concerns over federal role in housing
The Republican platform supports responsible homeownership while raising concerns about regulation.
“We must scale back the federal role in the housing market, promote responsibility on the part of borrowers and lenders, and avoid future taxpayer bailouts,” the GOP platform says.
It raises concerns about Dodd–Frank and says Democrats used the financial crisis to establish “unprecedented government control over the nation’s financial markets.”
Republicans believe Dodd-Frank has created new bureaucracies, killed jobs, created additional financial risks and shackled the economy. It blames the federal government’s own housing policies for the crisis.
The GOP platform takes specific aim at the CFPB, which it says was “deliberately designed to be a rogue agency. It answers to neither Congress nor the executive, has its own guaranteed funding outside the appropriations process, and uses its slush fund to steer settlements to politically favored groups.”
The GOP says “regulatory harassment” under the CFPB has hampered community and regional banks from making home loans, driven business to the big banks and made it more difficult to get a mortgage. If the CFPB isn’t abolished, the GOP wants it to come under congressional appropriation rules.
Republicans have also taken aim at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — housing finance giants that have been under federal conservatorship since 2008.
“Their corrupt business model lets shareholders and executives reap huge profits while the taxpayers cover all loses,” the platform says. “The utility of both agencies should be reconsidered as a Republican administration clears away the jumble of subsidies and controls that complicate and distort home-buying.”
Republicans also want changes at the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) with limits on qualifying income and more protection for taxpayers.
Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO David Stevens, in a recent column in The Hill, called for the next president to name a housing policy director due to the many complexities the housing market will face going forward. For now, neither candidate has said much about housing.
That must change.
This article was written exclusively for GoRion.