Romney Quiet on Housing in Acceptance Speech

August 31, 2012

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney put the focus on job creation and cutting the federal deficit to spur the economy in his speech last night in Tampa, Fla., accepting the Republican nomination for president.

“What America needs is jobs,” he said. “When the [real estate professional] told you that to sell your house you'd have to take a big loss, in those moments you knew that this [economic recovery] just wasn't right” and that a new approach is needed.

Romney laid out a five-step plan that includes making the United States energy-independent, cutting the deficit, helping small business, getting aggressive on trade, and improving education.

He set as his goal the creation of 12 million new jobs and setting a cap of 20 percent on the amount of new debt the federal government can hold each year relative to the country’s gross domestic product.

To help spur jobs, he said he would cut taxes for small businesses, which he called “America’s engine for job growth,” and simplify and modernize federal rules that affect them.

He didn’t specify the rules he would put under the spotlight, but in a Q&A for the September/October issue of REALTOR® Magazine, which comes out in mid-September, he said he would “repeal and replace” the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which was enacted in 2010 to addresses excesses in financial markets that led to the housing bubble and subsequent mortgage finance crisis.

“Banks and financial institutions are paralyzed,” he said in the REALTOR® Magazine Q&A. “Regulators are simultaneously directing lenders to reduce risk (i.e., tighten underwriting) while also asking them to loosen standards. We will clarify the rules of the road for lenders so that responsible borrowers have access to mortgage credit, and the housing market will rebound as a result.”

In his speech, he also said he would seek to repeal health care reform enacted two years ago, which he believes would rein in “skyrocketing” health care costs that are burdening businesses.

Romney didn’t say what he would do about households without health insurance if health care reform is repealed, but in the REALTOR® Magazine Q&A, he said he would “pursue reforms that emphasize market competition and patient choice” and “give states the flexibility to pursue innovative solutions for the unique needs of their own citizens.” 

Romney didn’t say how he would reach his federal-debt goal of 20 percent of GDP, but he has said elsewhere that he would seek to cut hundreds of billion a year from federal spending by reducing federal programs and scaling back or ending some tax deductions or exemptions.

In the upcoming REALTOR® Magazine Q&A, he was asked to identify the extent to which he supports MID and the capital-gains exclusion on the sale of one’s primary home (up to $500,000 for a married couple), among other federal incentives for home ownership. In his answer, he did not specify support for any incentives. Instead, he said, “the housing market continues to face big challenges and the best way to get the housing market going again is to get the economy moving in the right direction. ... What most struggling home owners need is a good, quality job. Policies like 20 percent across-the-board cuts in tax rates, sensible regulation, and open markets to stimulate trade will help all Americans achieve their economic goals, including buying a home.”

On his goal for energy independence, he said he would pave the way for companies to ramp up development of domestic supplies.

Read a blog post and watch a two-minute video on REALTORS® who were in Tampa this week as delegates to the Republican National Convention.

The Democratic National Convention, at which President Obama is to be nominated for a second term of office, begins next week in Charlotte, N.C.

— Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine