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C'mon back to the raft, Huck honey

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday February 7, 2009 09:11 PM

There seems to be a lot of back-and-forth just now about whether to include, in the "stimulus" package, a $15,000 tax credit for people who buy what I call a "house", but which conventional diction calls a "home".

Now this credit will not, of course, be available to renters.

Or, for that matter, to people who stay in their present home, or house. No. We can't stand pat. Buy a new home, or house -- or the terrorists will have won!

The Senate seems to be very keen on this idea:

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a home buyer tax credit of $15,000 or up to 10 percent of the purchase price... The amendment to the Senate’s economic stimulus package [was] co-sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)....

Isakson... spent more than 30 years in the real estate business....

... just like the rest of the US Senate, and the House for that matter, which have both spent a couple of centuries in the real-estate business.

Note that word "unanimously". So the Dem majority -- fruit of the Last But One Most Important Election In The History Of The Universe -- and the defeated forces of darkness, the orcs of the Republican Party, are entirely on the same page here.

This profoundly bipartisan particular measure will spend about $35 billion -- let me write that out: $35,000,000,000.00 -- of our dollars to encourage Joe Schmo to keep speculating in real estate.

Because if Joe ever stopped -- Christ, where would we be?!

So.... will Obie sign it? Bets, anybody?

Comments (7)

Did I ever pass this one along to you? It's from late last summer, but still pertinent, something I did after catching an AP story about Los Angeles foreclosure rates and the number of people living in their cars, and the reactions of the local governments, and the police, and the car-dwellers' ex-neighbors.

Also, in this cartoon, I was finally able to reveal the truth at last: These are the "Glengarry Leads":


Mind you, this is spoken entirely as someone who did most of his serious growing up in a Little Box On The Hillside -- remarkably evocative of Pete Seeger's ditty -- that my parents bought after my dad got out of the Army, in the then-burgeoning western suburbs of DC, in 1971. At the time, it was like a dream, after nearly a decade of living in on-base dependents' apartment blocks in Germany and around Fort Myer.

I never realized just how desolate it really was out there until I came back for Christmas break after my first semester of college.


Can you believe that we pay them to do this?

This is market totalitarianism's beating heart. It is the flip side of the 2005 highway bill vote, the last major instance of that question before "our" representatives. That vote was 512 up and 13 down in both (shit)houses, with the 13 nays all being Republican "I hate government" grandstanders.

I'm interested in hearing what people here think the effect of this new subsidy will be. I suspect it'll be a two-edged sword. The rich will be able to pick up more second and third "homes" on the public's dime -- and for a song, while yet another swath of middles will get tricked into acquiring a set of sticks at prices that remain, despite the much publicized panic, sticks-plus.

Michael Hureaux:

And out here in the great progressive mecca of Seattle, Washington, the Seattle Post Intellligencer trumpets the news that elderly patrons of nursing homes and retirement communities are actually being evicted from said facilities when the retirement and pension funds run out. There are plenty of holes to die in, I suppose.


The effect of the subsidy? Practically nil, I'd think, apart from pissing away a substantial chunk of taxpayer money. (Owen may differ and will have his reasons if so.)

It'll take a while, and a lot more subsidy, for the house market to come back.

But you can be sure our leaders will be working very hard on it. The adrenaline, the defibrillation paddles, the intubations, the whole elaborate life-support system -- it'll be like St Elsewhere around here for quite some time.

St. Elsewhere?

Scrubs, more like.

The other thought that occurs to me is that giving somebody a tax credit for buying something is very different than handing out $15,000 checks. Unless they cook up a new scheme for loaning folks the $15,000 up front, I doubt too many middles will be able to use the credit. By all reports, getting a new loan is now as tough as it probably always should have been, back when credit was filling the Keynes hole.

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