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Why Politicians Don’t Want To Touch the Housing Crisis

Barack Obama would have you believe that Mitt Romney is a heartless zillionaire who doesn’t think the government should do anything about Americans losing their homes to foreclosure. Romney would have you believe that the foreclosure problem is yet more evidence of Obama’s failure to heal the economy.

Meanwhile, when the GOP candidates were asked about housing in last week’s debate, they all basically dodged the question. And Obama’s plan, announced Monday in Las Vegas, is being criticized as too little, too late, by some Democrats.

The housing issue, it seems, is a political hot potato — one every candidate can’t wait to toss to the next guy before it burns him up.

It’s one of those issues that confounds partisan equations and eludes easy messaging, because voters basically want to hear politicians say two contradictory things. They want the government to act to stem the tide of foreclosures. But they don’t want their money going to help those they see as irresponsible.

It was housing policy, after all, that spurred CNBC’s Rick Santelli to declaim the rant that’s credited with catalyzing the tea party movement in 2009. “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors’ mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?” he railed.

But that sentiment coexists with the notion that something has to be done — that’s why Democrats pounced so gleefully on Romney’s statement last week that the government should “let [the foreclosure process] run its course and hit the bottom.” On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took a shot at Romney’s statement, saying, “That’s not a solution.”

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