MID Remains a Third Rail Issue with Voters

by Houston Agent

Voters re-affirmed their support for the mortgage interest tax deduction in an NAHB survey.

During the various budget crises of 2011, numerous federal programs were threatened with substantial cuts if not complete annihilation in the name of deficit reduction, and one of the more controversial suggestions involved alterations to the popular mortgage interest tax deduction (MID), which spurred considerable debate on the merits of the measure.

Long thought of as one of the third rails of politics, the MID earned ceaseless support through 2011 from the National Association of Realtors and other trade groups, and now in 2012, the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) is not only reaffirming that support, but also offering evidence that it’s not alone.

To support its position on the MID, NAHB surveyed 1,500 likely voters on their thoughts and opinions regarding the tax deduction. In the survey’s operation, NAHB recruited polling firms on both sides of the political spectrum for a balance in responses, but ultimately, political affiliation had little merit on the responses.

75 percent of the voters surveyed said it was reasonable for the government to offer tax incentives to foster homeownership, with 84 percent of Democrats supporting the measure and 71 percent of Republicans, and 73 percent opposed eliminating the MID, with 77 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats opposing such a move.

Sixty-eight percent of voters said they would be less inclined to vote for a candidate that proposed eliminating the deduction (this stat was identical across party lines), and a majority of the respondents opposed any reductions in the MID and any other alterations, such as eliminating the deduction for a second home.

Other results of the NAHB’s survey included: 96 percent of respondents who owned homes were happy with their decision to own a property, with even 84 percent of underwater homeowners happy with their purchase; 74 percent felt that, regardless of the current housing market, homeownership is still the most valuable long-term investment around; and 68 percent of non-homeowners said it was a goal of theirs to purchase a home.

Bob Nielsen, the president of the NAHB, said the survey’s results should serve as a warning for 2012’s presidential candidates.

“Even in a down housing market, homeownership remains a core American value, with the vast majority of citizens who do not currently own a home saying they want to buy a home,” Nielsen said. “Those running for office in November need to understand that voters will not look kindly on any candidates who seek to dismantle the nation’s long-term commitment to homeownership.”

Celinda Lake, the president of Lake Research Partners, one of the polling agencies contracted by the NAHB, echoed Nielsen’s sentiment.

“With the 2012 election season in full swing, candidates running for the White House and Congress would be wise to heed the will of the American voters, who have expressed broad support for government policies that encourage homeownership and oppose efforts to make it more difficult to get a home loan and to tamper with the mortgage interest deduction,” Lake said.

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