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It's Time to Make Sense and Cents | Politics

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It's Time to Make Sense and Cents
Gerry Connelly is sounding like a parrot of the party of his perennial opponent, Keith Fimian. (Maybe that's the point.) But he is wrong. The home mortgage deduction needs to be put on the "Supercommittee"'s table.  It should be phased out and eliminated completely as a relic of a time when such ownership was the American Dream. It no longer is...and look at where that delusion got US. At its worst, people with no assets or jobs were put into houses that were more than they needed or could budgetarily swing,  just to keep the economy going via the homebuilding sector. And now they are either stuck, or already foreclosed on and displaced. Sorry, National Association of Realtors, housing, that largest ticket item of consumer consumption, can no longer be designated as the engine that drives this country's financial well being, especially since the evidence is that that "break" does not have a significant impact on home ownership rates.      The Tax Code has long been used as an instrument of social policy. And when people stayed with an employer or in a community for most of their lives, encouraging their planting of physical roots made sense. But that is not the situation now. Technology aside, people need to be mobile to take advantage of work opportunities whenever and wherever they may arise. The smart thing to do is to rent not just living space, but as much of whatever is needed to fill it, so that you are free to go anywhere, anytime. Whole industries, and modifications of existing ones, could be built around "leasing," creating jobs. Rental properties that have fallen into disrepair or were shoddily constructed to begin with could be remodeled into "homes," and vacant, single family dwellings of sufficient square footage could be subdivided into multi family use. And to encourage mobility, and perhaps help those who have gotten the short end of the stick in the government handout derby so far, maybe the moving expense deduction should be revisited to include shortened distances and crisis relocation, and afford renters a modest credit. Not necessarily this year, but in the near future, to encourage less permanent acquisition and a lifestyle more in accord with evolving economic patterns. As it stands now, low income and moderate income taxpayers, who cannot avail themselves of the home mortgage deduction and other tax advantages, are paying disproportionately higher rates than perhaps they should  to subsidize wealthier individuals and corporations. As economist Edward L. Glaeser remarked in the NY Times earlier this year (3/15), that is "public paternalism at its worst." And if that disparity persists, particularly in this current and prolonged downturn, it could eventually incite class warfare.  
      It is innovative proposals that our lawmakers should be championing to counter legislative peers who claim to want smaller government, or government completely out of their lives, and are screaming for the elimination of Social Security and Medicare - programs most potential beneficiaries actually contribute to -  as a panacea to our debt problems. Not maintenance of the pick the "welfare" group gifted, stodgy status quo.  For so called "entitlements" to bite the dust, the logical way to do it would be to promote, more than already, the funding of retirement accounts and the purchase of health insurance as replacements. Another novel idea I don't hear a groundswell for. I hope that Virginia's 11th District Representative is reading and listening. Because it's time to make sense and cents.