Housing Industry Cites Comments On Online Articles To Claim That Publications Support Home Buyer Tax Credit

To many economists, one of the “worst” pieces of the Senate’s proposed economic recovery bill was an ineffective $15,000 tax credit for home buyers. (It was reduced to $8,000 in the final compromise legislation.) Dean Baker called it a “house flipper tax credit” and Paul Krugman concluded that it would have “cost a lot of money while doing nothing to help the economy.”

Not surprisingly, the housing industry heavily pushed the tax credit. For example, e.politics spotted an ad the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) placed in Roll Call on Friday:

The ad quotes the laudatory statements on the importance of the credit in the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News, among other major publications. However, in minuscule text at the bottom of the ad, NAHB qualifies these endorsements with:

All quotes are reader responses to online articles about the proposed $15,000 home buyer tax credit.

ThinkProgress received a response to the NAHB ad from U.S. News editor Brian Kelly:

The quote is misleading as it does not reflect the editorial views of U.S. News & World Report. We have not taken a position on the issue. The quote is from a reader comment left on our website. That fact should have been more prominently noted.

We also attempted to contact editors at the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but have not yet received responses.


It’s not entirely surprising that the NAHB couldn’t find any legitimate experts to back up its defense of the home buyer tax credit. After all, as CAP’s Andrew Jakabovics noted, the previous $7,500 credit would have only saved “the average buyer the equivalent of a latte a month, which is not likely to incentivize anyone who is not already planning to buy a home, thus making it a poor use of taxpayer resources.”


Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) told a Georgia radio station that he may revive the home buyer credit.


,ThinkProgress received a reply from St. Louis Post-Dispatch Managing Editor Pam Maples, who said that in the NAHB ad, “it’s very clear an individual is speaking, not us. It’s no different than if they’d pulled a quote from a local resident that appeared in one of our stories, as long as it was kept in context.” She added that the comment excerpted by the NAHB “was posted in response to a blog item that asked readers whether the tax proposed tax credit would affect their home buying decisions.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch newsroom does not take positions on issues or reader comments.