NAR Legislative Priorities Miss The Mark
This week members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will flood Capitol Hill offices lobbying for policies they claim protect homeowners and support the real estate industry. Their legislative talking points miss the mark by doing more to promote special interests than spur economic growth.
While NAR is right to push for comprehensive tax reform, their fight to protect special interest deductions gets in the way of meaningful reform and props up the current tax code. For instance, NAR criticized President Trump’s tax proposal to double the standard deduction and eliminate the state and local deduction. Their objection: many homeowners will opt for higher savings in a standard deduction as opposed to claiming an itemized mortgage interest deduction-which by and large is a carve out for wealthy families while also inflating housing prices.
Conservatives ought to push for broad-based tax reform which simplifies the tax code, lowers all tax rates, eliminates the bias against saving and investment, and eliminates tax preferences that pick winners and losers. In respect to these principles, President Trump’s plan marks a step in the right direction.
When it comes to government insurance programs, NAR would rather continue to put taxpayer dollars at risk for future bailouts than bring much needed free-market reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Congress should work to privatize flood insurance-not increase taxpayer subsidies of premiums that distort the rates consumers should pay and drive private competition out of the marketplace.
Eventual privatization will do far more to control costs, increase choice, and promote competition than continuing to subsidize flood insurance by the billions. The debate over reauthorizing NFIP ought to focus on scaling back government intervention in the market.
Noticeably absent from NAR’s list of items to lobby on- The Financial CHOICE Act. Likely coming to a vote on the House floor in weeks ahead, this legislation to repeal key parts of Dodd- Frank will provide a boost for the economy, increase income for all Americans, and finally put an end to the current structure of the unaccountable Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The thousands of pages of misguided regulations embedded in Dodd-Frank stifled the economy’s recovery, crippled community banks, raised lending costs, and restricted access to credit for homebuyers. If NAR was serious about homeowners and growth in the real estate industry, the CHOICE Act should be front and center in their legislative priorities.