It’s unlikely Congress will alter mortgage tax credit
WASHINGTON – May 14, 2014 – Homeownership is expected to retain its political luster through the 2014 election cycle, even as lawmakers struggle to reach consensus on major policy issues like immigration and healthcare, said two top political strategists at the Federal Legislative and Political Forum, part of the Realtor® Party Convention & Trade Expo.
Steve Schmidt, who served as a communications strategist for the presidential campaigns of John McCain and George W. Bush, joined David Plouffe, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, to offer predictions for the upcoming midterm elections and the impact they will have on Congress' ability to pass meaningful housing legislation this year.
"Over the next six years, neither party will have majorities in the U.S. Senate or House. We're looking at six to eight Senate races that will be decided within four points or so," said Plouffe. "Senators are frustrated; they're serving in an institution that's less popular than the Ebola virus. At some point, they are going to have to come to the middle and cooperate because that's what the electorate wants."
Plouffe and Schmidt discussed the chances of Congress taking up tax reform or considering changes to the mortgage interest deduction this year. Both agreed that while a tax package will likely be discussed in 2015, it's doubtful that it will include language to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction.
According to Schmidt, the debate over the mortgage interest deduction will focus around who can benefit from it.
"The issue with the deduction is going to be the amount – there's going to be a lot of debate about whether people with million-dollar homes should get the deduction. Realtors need to clearly stake out their position now and be firm on it," he said.
Realtors believe that preserving the mortgage interest deduction is vital to the stability of the American housing market and economy. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) says it will remain vigilant in opposing any plan that modifies or excludes the deductibility of mortgage interest.
In meetings with U.S. Senators and congressional staff this week, Realtors will promote the value of homeownership and urge lawmakers to advance legislation that strengthens the housing market, protects commercial investment and bolsters the economic recovery.
"No one amplifies the voice of real estate better than Realtors," said NAR President Steve Brown. "We are on the front lines of issues affecting the housing market, and we see the consequences and benefits of the laws that influence it."
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