No matter what the American people tell pollsters about government in the abstract, they broadly support the idea that government has a legitimate role in taking specific steps to combat economic suffering and unfettered free market recklessness and to shore up the shrinking middle class.
That’s the premise of the Obama reelection campaign. And today in Falls Church, Virginia, Obama again staked out this turf, offering a new plan to help homeowners whose mortgages are “under water,” by enabling them to save $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgages at historically low interest rates. The plan offers a Homeowner Bill of Rights to prevent homeowners from getting screwed over by fees, conflicts of interests, lack of disclosure about mortgages and inappropriate forclosure. …
Matthew Yglesias argues that the plan could be a job-creation “game changer” by putting more money in people’s pockets to spend on other things, helping revive the economy.
Bloomberg reports some good news in the construction industry:
Construction spending in the U.S. rose in December at the fastest pace in four months, reflecting broad- based gains that signal the industry is stabilizing.
Building outlays increased 1.5 percent, the biggest gain since August, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 51 economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.5 percent rise.
A housing market that is gaining some steam as builders begin apartment projects may breathe life into the industry that’s struggled since triggering the recession in 2007. At the same time, decreased spending by the government may temper progress in construction as a whole.
That last sentence is the bad news.