Fun new survey data out from Rasmussen, regarding Americans and how they currently feel about government participation in the mortgage market:
See the glaring disconnect in the first two items? If fifty-six percent of Americans think the government should stay “altogether” out of the mortgage market, but seventy-nine percent want the mortgage-interest deduction to continue, then an awful lot of people have an awfully shallow view of what “government participation” means.
If you don’t think that the mortgage-interest deduction amounts to a subsidy for homeowners, and therefore, is the very essence of “government participation” in the market, then you’re nuts. Take away that deduction, and see what happens to home prices. Mortgage qualification standards are based upon that federal tax deduction being there, effectively “helping” people make their house payments. If the deduction were to go away, qualification standards would necessarily tighten. Joe and Jane Sixpack wouldn’t be able to qualify for as high a mortgage payment as they could previously, as more of their gross income would now be going to taxes. Thus, over time, home prices would decline.
For this survey to mean much, someone really ought to define “altogether.” Because to me, that’d mean the dissolution of Fannie, Freddie, and the FHA, as well as the removal of the mortgage-interest tax deduction. But that wasn’t what the Rasmussen respondents inferred, or were told. Obviously.
What an idea, huh? Get rid of Fannie, Freddie, the FHA — who between them control 90 percent of the mortgage market these days — and the sacrosanct mortgage-interest deduction. You want to talk about a full-on house price collapse? That’d do it!