The Washington Post this morning ran an excellent piece about how President Obama has come up way short on his promises to help the housing market.
And so . . .
Today, Obama will travel to Las Vegas where he will outline new steps to help borrowers refinance. The White House leaked the story to the Post’s chief competitors on the national newspaper scene, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, as well as Reuters.
But not the Post.
Quoting administration officials, here’s a portion of the Journal’s description of Obama’s proposal, which it says Obama is expected to talk about Monday:
The overhaul will, among other things, let borrowers refinance regardless of how far their homes have fallen in value, eliminating previous limits. The plan will streamline the refinance process by eliminating appraisals and extensive underwriting requirements for most borrowers. Fannie and Freddie have also agreed to waive some fees that made refinancing less attractive for some.
Here’s the sum of what the Post has on it:
(Obama will) mention a program to be unveiled as soon as Monday that will reduce monthly payments for some underwater borrowers.
Ironically, the Post piece is a balanced article that notes the arguments within the administration about how much could really be done on housing and whether it was the best use of taxpayer money to be bailing out homeowners. Many economists argue that until the housing market is allowed to shake out, with many borrowers losing their homes, the market will never come back and the economy will remain hobbled by the housing sector.
Obama actually comes off looking responsible in the piece, balancing the plaintive letters he reads from homeowners with hard headed economic advice he’s getting from Treasury Secretary Geithner and others.
I assume Post White House Reporter Zachary Goldfarb, who wrote the story, got the full fusillade of profanity-laced fake fury from the White House press office, which is routinely served up to those who write articles the White House doesn’t like.
The purpose of such treatment, and the denial of the housing “scoop” to the Post, would be to get inside Goldfarb’s head so that he doesn’t try this again. Many reporters can’t help but think twice before writing something that will result in verbal abuse, and short-sighted editors get very nervous when the competitors have a story that they don’t.
Hopefully, Goldfarb and his editors will be undeterred.