February 24, 2010 - 12:00 am
In trying to score points for himself and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, President Obama hoisted an air ball during last week’s Las Vegas visit.
The president used his trip here to announce that $1.5 billion of TARP money would be dedicated to reversing the housing woes of the five states hit hardest by foreclosures: Nevada, Florida, Michigan, California and Arizona.
Nevada’s share would be about $100 million, a sum the president hopes will lift Sen. Reid’s dismal poll numbers as he runs for re-election, and create the perception that without Sen. Reid, such debt-growing federal largess would never find its way here.
That’s about all the money will be good for. Like every other intervention to end the housing slide, it will only draw out the painful market correction still under way.
Government-sponsored mortgage modification efforts have been a failure because millions of unemployed people lack the income to make even reduced payments. If President Obama and Sen. Reid want to keep people in their houses and increase home values, they need to embrace policies that will encourage investment and spur job growth, such as permanent tax cuts. It’s all about the jobs.
Fewer foreclosures are entering the resale market. Banks are increasingly favoring short sales. Cash-paying investors are snapping up discounted, undervalued properties. Fewer people are behind on their mortgage payments. Home values are stabilizing in some places, climbing slightly in others.
Mr. Obama’s plan will distort these positive developments.