Come hell or high water, the government seems intent on bringing back the housing bubble.
Lawmakers are pushing to revive legislation in the Senate that would almost double an $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers and expand the program to all borrowers.
Senator Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, introduced a bill today that would increase the tax credit to $15,000 and remove income and other restrictions on who can qualify, according to his spokeswoman, Sheridan Watson. The Treasury Department declined to comment on the proposal.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, would extend the homebuyer credit to multifamily properties used as the borrower’s primary residence. It would also eliminate income caps of $75,000 and $150,000 on individuals and couples seeking to claim the credit.
The bill would extend the tax credit, which now applies to homes purchased from Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, 2009, to one year after the new measure is signed into law, according to Watson. Isakson’s bill would make the credit available to all borrowers, not only borrowers who haven’t owned a home in the previous three years as is the case under current law. It would also let borrowers divide the credit over two years. The legislation wouldn’t be applied retroactively to purchases completed before the date of enactment, Watson said.
Now you probably think that they would stop there, don’t you. Well, when it comes to housing there apparently isn’t anything that the government won’t do.
The Business Roundtable and Realtors group also recommended the Federal Reserve continue to purchase mortgage securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and government mortgage bond insurer Ginnie Mae to drive down mortgage rates to less than 5 percent.
The Fed is about a third of the way through its $1.25 trillion commitment, holding $427.6 billion of mortgage debt backed by the government-sponsored enterprises as of June 3, according to the New York Federal Reserve.
No matter how moribund any asset class may be, it can always be turned into a bubble if you throw enough money at it. The problem with bubbles is that, as very recent history reminds us, they always burst. If a simpleton like me has learned that lesson, why is it lost on the members of Congress?
One final thought. Who do they think is going to pay for all of this?