On Tuesday, the GOP presidential contenders squared off for a debate in Nevada, the state with both the highest unemployment and highest foreclosure rates in the country. More than 80 percent of Nevada homeowners are underwater, owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth.
But before the debate, Mitt Romney told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he doesn’t have a plan to help homeowners struggling to keep their homes. Government, he said, should not “try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”
As ThinkProgress noted earlier, Gov.Brian Sandoval (R-NV) said that Romney doesn’t “fully understand” what’s happening in Nevada. And he’s not alone amongst the state’s Republican lawmakers in hastily trying to distance himself from Romney’s toxic position:
In a state where the loss of a family home perhaps has been the most painful outcome of the stressed economy, Mitt Romney took hits Tuesday from Nevada leaders of both parties after commenting that the government should let the foreclosure process “run its course and hit the bottom.”[…]
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., distanced himself from the Republican presidential contender.
“Senator Heller does not agree with Mitt Romney,” spokesman Stewart Bybee said. “His plan could take up to six to eight years for recovery, and that is time that Nevada just does not have.”
Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) seemed to be the only Republican who did not completely repudiate Romney’s position. A Romney endorser, Heck thinks the housing market “does need to reach bottom,” according to a spokesman, but supports “a soft landing rather than a hard crash” by having the government continue to offer refinancing help.
Yet when Romney unveiled his economic plan in Nevada in September, he did not make a single mention of the housing crisis. The New York Times reported just this week that the collapse of housing prices is a major impediment to economic recovery that continues to undermine consumer confidence.
Romney, a multimillionaire and former corporate executive who’s owned several lavish properties across the country, may have trouble grasping the plight of average Americans who are struggling to stay in their homes. In August, Romney applied for a permit to quadruple the size of his 3,000-square-foot, $12 million home in La Jolla, California. A campaign official explained that the mansion was too small and “inadequate for their needs.”