Biden Gets Mixed Response to Affordable Housing Stimulus Plan

April 15, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — A Biden administration plan to increase affordable housing drew sharp warnings from Republicans about adding to the U.S. budget deficit during a congressional hearing Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Democrats said the $213 billion plan for affordable housing more equitably distributes wealth. They largely disagreed it would overwhelm the economy with debt.

Housing is only one component of President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion stimulus plan, which emphasizes infrastructure to propel economic development.

“Housing must be a major component of any infrastructure package,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Other parts of Biden’s plan include $70 billion for public housing, $45 billion for a national housing trust fund to leverage private sector investment, $10 billion for targeted rental assistance and $5 billion for fair housing enforcement.

“Here’s the truth: We all will do better when we all do well,” Biden said when he introduced his American Jobs Plan last month in Pittsburgh.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic revealed longstanding inequalities that could be addressed through his plan.

“It’s time to build our economy from the bottom up and from the middle up, not the top down,” Biden said.

Housing shortages have been exacerbated in the past year by record low mortgage rates and the pandemic, which compelled some urban residents to sell their smaller homes for bigger ones in the suburbs. As prices rise amid brisk sales, low and middle-income persons are priced out of the market.

Republicans and their witnesses at the hearing Wednesday said Biden’s plan would create short-term solutions but potentially devastating long-term consequences.

“It’s a liberal wish list,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

Brian Reidl, senior fellow at the conservative public policy foundation Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, said Biden’s plan could triple the national budget deficit, forcing the government to raise taxes to pay off the debt.

The current deficit stands at $1.7 trillion. It exceeds the federal budget, which is proposed at $1.52 trillion for fiscal 2022.

The spiral of a rising deficit and higher taxes could depress the national economy for generations, Reidl said.

“Washington should focus on paying for our current escalating commitments before undertaking the most expensive non-emergency spending bill in half a century,” Reidl said.

He agreed infrastructure spending that includes housing could be a good idea to stimulate the economy but added, “A better infrastructure package could be a lot leaner.”

If interest rates rise above 4%, “simple math shows that combining rising interest rates with a debt approaching 200 or 300% of GDP risks a catastrophic debt crisis,”  Reidl said in his testimony.

Democrats and their witnesses argued that stable housing and the jobs in Biden’s plan would eradicate much of the predicted debt.

“Housing stabilizes families,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. “We must fund housing in proportion to its importance to the future of our country.”

Some witnesses warned of disaster later this year, when the emergency ban on evictions announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the height of the pandemic expires at the end of June.

About 20% of adult renters did not pay last month’s rent, according to a survey published in March by the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly 33% of Black renters reported they did not pay last month’s rent.

Together, about nine million renters owe roughly $50 billion in unpaid rent.

“They face eviction and homelessness when the eviction moratorium is lifted in July,” said Michael McAfee, president of PolicyLink, a nonprofit research institute dedicated to advancing economic and social equity.

He called the part of Biden’s infrastructure plan that would increase the supply of affordable housing “an unprecedented opportunity.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

Republicans Vow to Keep Raising Jan. 6 Questions, Despite Committee Fracas
Political News
Republicans Vow to Keep Raising Jan. 6 Questions, Despite Committee Fracas
July 23, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - As a select committee prepares to open its investigation Tuesday into the events leading up to and during the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill, a trio of House Republican wonder what might have been. Everyone expected some controversy when House Minority Leader Kevin... Read More

Pelosi Says 'Deadly Serious' Jan. 6 Probe to Go Without GOP
Congress
Pelosi Says 'Deadly Serious' Jan. 6 Probe to Go Without GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unfazed by Republican threats of a boycott, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection will take on its "deadly serious" work whether Republicans participate or not.  The Republicans' House leader, Kevin McCarthy, called the committee... Read More

Greenhouse Gases Heat Up Lawmakers’ Health Concerns
Climate
Greenhouse Gases Heat Up Lawmakers’ Health Concerns
July 21, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- The million acres of forest that burned in western states in the past week were a lesser concern for a congressional panel that discussed the hazards of high heat caused by climate change Wednesday. “It’s becoming a routine part of life on the West... Read More

House Democrats Urge Biden to Permanently Close Digital Divide
Congress
House Democrats Urge Biden to Permanently Close Digital Divide
July 21, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - House Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to permanently close the nation’s digital divide by targeting federal investments in broadband to the hardest to reach areas, while also providing a permanent, federally-funded broadband benefit program to financially vulnerable families. The effort is being spearheaded... Read More

Sexual Assault in the Military Subject of Congressional Hearing
Congress
Sexual Assault in the Military Subject of Congressional Hearing
July 21, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck

The Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing recently to discuss a new set of recommendations to better address sexual assault in the military. “The toll that sexual assault and sexual harassment has taken on our military is devastating and incalculable. We know the numbers, but... Read More

DC Circuit Strikes Down GOP Challenge to Proxy Voting
Congress
DC Circuit Strikes Down GOP Challenge to Proxy Voting
July 20, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON  - A Republican-led challenge to a House resolution allowing members to vote remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic ended abruptly Tuesday after the D.C. Circuit held it had no authority to review a “core” legislative act of Congress. House Resolution 965 was adopted in May 2020... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top