Making the Right Choice

From the Editor: Budget decisions should preserve dream of home ownership.

February 1, 2011

Difficult decisions must be made.

That’s what California Gov. Jerry Brown said in his inaugural address in January, and I expect that sentiment was heard at scaled-down inaugurals from coast to coast, as new and re-elected governors promised to tackle deficits and practice fiscal responsibility.

It was also the theme of President Obama’s federal budget commission, which released its report Dec. 1 with recommended changes to the mortgage interest deduction. "Ever since the economic downturn, families across the country have huddled around kitchen tables, making tough choices about what they . . . can learn to live without," the report stated. "They expect and deserve their leaders to do the same."

True, my husband and I have had many of those kitchen-table conversations, and I know this economy has left many of our readers facing tough choices as well. But while the government must act prudently with taxpayer money, it also must act in the long-term interest of our country.

That’s why the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is making an all-out effort to preserve the American dream of home ownership and the tax benefits that go with it. Nearly 80 percent of NAR members in a recent poll affirmed their belief that NAR must stand its ground on maintaining the MID in its current form. Policy makers who want to eliminate or limit the MID say it costs the government a lot of money in the form of reduced tax revenue. But it’s a cost with a hefty return for society, as our online editor Brian Summerfield points out in his article on NAR’s campaign (see page 24). Buying a home is a commitment to your community. And if you buy purely for the tax break, you’re in for a rude awakening, as anyone who has maintained a home can attest.

David Brooks, in his Jan. 3 New York Times column, suggested that the new Congress focus not on the size of government but on what he calls the Achievement Test: "Does a given policy arouse ­energy, foster skills, spur social mobility, and help people transform their lives?" If so, it’s a good policy, even if its price tag is large. Brooks pointed to the G.I. Bill and the Homestead Act as laws that had that type of transformative power.

I don’t know Brooks’ view on mortgage interest deductibility, but as I read his column, I found myself mentally putting the mortgage interest deduction to the test. I didn’t have a difficult time deciding: It passed with flying colors.


At, access a variety of resources including MIDCalc, a new iPhone and iPad app that lets consumers estimate the tax-savings value of the mortgage interest deduction. Join the discussion at

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is vice president of business-to-business communications for the National Association of REALTORS®. In addition to overseeing, REALTOR® Magazine, and the quarterly REALTOR® Association Executive magazine, she manages a variety of e-communications for REALTORS® and REALTOR® association executives. She has been with the NAR for more 20 years, starting as an associate editor with Real Estate Today magazine, where she covered sales and finance topics.