The latest GOP presidential primary debate will take place in Nevada tonight, one of the state’s hardest hit by the housing crisis. In fact, Nevada has had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for 56 consecutive months, according to data from RealtyTrac. More than 80 percent of Nevada homeowners are underwater, owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth.
Mitt Romney already unveiled an economic platform in Nevada while managing to neglect housing entirely. But perhaps that was for the best, as when he does talk about it, he makes it abundantly clear that he cares not a whit for the millions of Americans losing their homes due to the financial crisis. During a discussion with the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review Journal, Romney said one of his rules for the government is “don’t try and stop the foreclosure process”:
As for what to do for the housing industry specifically, and are there things that you can do to encourage housing? One is don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom, allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up. The Obama administration has slow-walked the foreclosure processes that have long existed and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang.
I think the idea of helping people refinance homes to stay in them is one that’s worth further consideration, but I’m not signing on until I find out who’s going to pay and who’s going to get bailed out and that’s not something which we know all the answers to yet.
Romney’s callous disregard for families losing their homes through no fault of their own is bad enough. But it’s also not true that speeding foreclosures is good for the economy, as every foreclosure drags down the value of the homes around it. The Roosevelt Institute Mike Konczal has pointed to research showing that “foreclosures were responsible for 15% to 30% of the decline in residential investment from 2007 to 2009 and 20% to 40% of the decline in auto sales over the same period.”
And, of course, focusing only on those homeowners entering the foreclosure process legally ignores the vas amounts of fraud that banks perpetrated in order to speed foreclosures, such as robo-signing and fake notarization of documents. Romney already has the lobbyist for a notorious foreclosure mill fundraising for his campaign — perhaps he should take a moment, while he’s in Nevada, to talk to those who are on the other side of the equation.
(HT: Ben Smith)