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EDITORIAL: Lombardo, not Biden, offers path to lower housing prices

President Joe Biden’s affordable housing ideas ignore the reality of the problem. Gov. Joe Lombardo has a better plan.

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden gave a speech in Las Vegas focused on mitigating rising housing costs. Sadly, the president’s mental decline was on full display. He slurred many of his words. His volume and pacing varied in unnatural ways.

Mr. Biden talked about a Las Vegas woman who received $15,000 in down payment assistance through the American Rescue Plan. He said the bill provided funds to keep 8 million families in their homes and helped 50,000 Nevadans pay rent.

Mr. Biden called for a $400-a-month tax credit for homeowners to offset higher interest rates. He said he’s eliminating “title insurance fees on federally backed mortgages.” He bragged he’s “expanding rental assistance to over 100,000 more low-income families.”

The president was silent, of course, on why mortgage interest rates have doubled under his watch, making it more financially challenging for new homebuyers. The rampant inflation that his policies unleashed have harmed many Americans. Yet Mr. Biden’s first instinct is to impose more government interventions to address the unintended consequences of previous government interventions.

Mr. Biden did eventually get to the crux of the housing issue — and it isn’t more subsidies. “You have to increase supply,” he admitted. To “lower housing costs for good,” you must “build, build, build,” he said.

Las Vegas is surrounded by open land. But the federal government controls more than 80 percent of the state. This has not escaped Gov. Joe Lombardo’s attention.

“If your administration conveyed Clark County 50,000 acres, the equivalent to a mere 10 percent of the recent national monument designation (for Avi Kwa Ame), it would double the land available for development in Clark County,” he wrote to Mr. Biden before his visit, adding that “this land would also provide for the potential construction of up to 335,000 new homes.”

As Mr. Biden himself acknowledged, expanding the supply of housing is how you “lower housing costs for good.”

But “the process of making federal land available for housing development can take years,” Gov. Lombardo wrote. He noted that releasing non-sensitive public land for productive use has generally enjoyed bipartisan support among Nevada’s congressional delegation.

“Unfortunately, your administration has not championed such legislation, and our cities, counties and citizens are suffering as a result,” he wrote. “I ask that you immediately call for the release of land in Nevada and direct your administration to prioritize the actions needed to address the current housing crisis.”

If Mr. Biden wants to do more than just flog affordable housing as a campaign issue, he would follow Gov. Lombardo’s advice.

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