During the congressional debate over the economic recovery package, Republican lawmakers voiced their opposition to the bill by complaining that it did not focus on housing. For instance, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who voted against the economic recovery bill, said:
If housing is the problem with the economy that started all of this, if you don’t fix the problem that started it, it is like having a patient that comes into the emergency room with a gaping wound and you put a band-aid on it. … We have a lot of problems, but we need to fix the underlying cancer, and that is the housing crisis.
Were Republicans using the housing provisions as a cudgel to simply stall and defeat the recovery package? Or are they genuinely interested in solving the problems with the housing market? We’ll soon find out.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed yesterday, was not intended to focus on housing. Rather, as Obama noted, the stimulus was just one leg of a three-legged economic recovery stool. In addition to the focus on job creation, “we’ve got to deal with the credit crisis; we got to deal with housing,” Obama explained. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has already unveiled a plan to get credit flowing through the economy. And today in Phoenix, Obama will unveil the third leg — a plan to fix the housing crisis.
ThinkProgress has compiled a video montage recalling the statements of conservatives who, just in the past few days, called for urgently tackling the housing crisis. Typical of the conservative argument, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “Number 1, we need to go right at the housing problem. That’s what started all this.” Watch the video:
Already, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) signaled his opposition to Obama’s housing plan before even seeing the details of the legislation. Will his fellow conservatives follow in his footsteps and soon forget their concerns about the addressing the “root cause” of the economic crisis?
JOHN MCCAIN: To go back to the fundamental problem that started this conflagration and that is housing. Until housing prices stabilize, the economy’s not going to stabilize.
MITCH MCCONNELL: There are two things that we think are essential. Number one we need to go right at the housing problem, that’s what started all of this.
ERIC CANTOR: A virus that began in the credit and housing markets has spread to infect the broader economy.
PHIL GINGREY: Because this whole mess started with the downturn of the housing market.
ROGER WICKER: Our ideas focused first on getting the housing market out of the gutter. The housing problem is what got us where we currently are, and it should be where we begin in turning our economy around.
Read a factsheet about the Obama administration’s Housing Affordability and Stability Plan here.