Republicans writing their party platform for their upcoming 2012 convention in Tampa next week inserted language specifying their support for the mortgage interest deduction. As described in a piece in the Wall Street Journal today, the language says that, “if the GOP failed on tax reform it would favor the retention of the mortgage-interest break.”
This is a clear victory for home buyers, home owners, and the economy, because it specifies that Republican lawmakers favor the retention of MID.
Based on the WSJ report, the first part of the provision suggests Republicans will pursue some type of tax reform. Whether that would include changes to MID can’t be known, but the fact that they specifically expressed support for MID is certainly an endorsement of this 100-year-old tax benefit.
The Wall Street Journal sees the language as something less than a win for home owners, because sponsors of the endorsement originally wanted it separate from any talk of tax reform. Given the climate today, in which lawmakers will be facing the enormous job of trying to put the federal budget on a path to balance, the fact that an explicit endorsement of MID was included in the platform is a victory, pure and simple.
The Journal goes on to point to the federal government’s historic support of home ownership as an underlying factor in the housing bust several years back. That’s an argument it’s made before. But the assertion has never made much sense, since MID has been around for 100 years—that’s 17 presidential administrations—and throughout that time the housing market on a national basis has been an indisputable source of stability in the economy.
That’s something delegates to the Republican platform committee clearly recognized in expressly endorsing the preservation of MID.