The Campaign Spot

After 30 Months, Obama Notices His Housing Policy Hasn’t Worked

Note this unheralded story in Politico today:

Suddenly, President Barack Obama is talking about housing again . . . The renewed attention to the ongoing housing crisis reflects a sense of urgency that had been largely absent from Obama’s message in recent months, when he described the housing market as “tough” and an area of “concern” and counseled that “it just takes some time” for the policies his administration launched to provide some relief. Obama focused early in his presidency on the impact of the crisis on American families, but his economic message had shifted toward broader job creation initiatives, even as many of the housing problems remain.

There is great opportunity for Obama’s GOP challengers by pursuing the argument that Obama fails to solve problems because his modus operandi is to pass a bill and believe that settles the issue. For much of 2009 and early 2010, the Obama White House was mono-focused on health care, in part because they believed that the stimulus had solved the problems facing the economy and growth would kick in any month now. A year later, in 2010, they celebrated “Recovery Summer,” insisting that good times were just around the corner. Last week, Obama insisted that “Where are the jobs?” is a skewed question because it came from Speaker Boehner.

I’m reminded of this anecdote in New York magazine in December 2009:

. . . the most damaging consequence of all may have been inside the White House, where bullishness about how rapidly the stimulus would kick in led to foolish projections that unemployment would peak at 8 percent—and where the bill’s passage bred a certain cockiness and complacency about the need to drive a sustained economic message in the months thereafter. “I recently talked to a very senior friend of mine in the White House, and I said, ‘How did we not spend a year talking about the economy?’ ” a Democratic think-tank maven recalls. “And he said, ‘Look, I think Barack did the stimulus and he thought he checked the box and he moved on.’ I said, ‘That’s not governing, dude. That’s some other thing.’ ”

Here we are, 18 months later, and the Obama administration is noticing that their 2009 efforts to help a terrible housing market and record foreclosures haven’t made much of a difference.

The stimulus was Plan A on the economy, it failed, and we’re still waiting for Plan B. The Home Affordable Modification Program was Plan A for the troubled housing market, it failed, and we’re still waiting for Plan B. Using some of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was Plan A for high gas prices, it failed, and we’re still waiting for Plan B. Outreach to Iran and Syria were Plan A on improving U.S. influence in a hostile region and dangerous world, it failed, and we’re still waiting for Plan B. Pressuring Israel was Plan A on the Middle East, it’s going nowhere, and we’re still waiting for Plan B.

America, our real “Plan B” is now clear: electing a Republican in 2012.

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