By Peter Ricci
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) did some serious political flexing this week with the GOP and its stance on the mortgage interest tax deduction.
The Republican Party boldly excluded the deduction – long the third rail in the real estate political universe – from it’s preliminary party platform on Monday in the name of deficit reduction – a move that did not sit well with NAR.
Politics and Real Estate – Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction Style
So, NAR threw its considerable political weight behind the deduction, and – lo and behold – language suddenly appeared in the GOP platform on Tuesday in support of the deduction. Some key points to consider:
- Though voters have been consistent in their support of the mortgage interest tax deduction, the measure has been on thin ice the past year, with it being constantly floated as a possible cut by the government for budgetary reasons.
- And the federal budget, along with reforms to the tax system, were among the reasons that Romney campaign advisor Jim Talent urged the GOP to abandon the mortgage interest tax deduction, according to a MarketWatch report.
- NAR responded almost immediately, with the association’s president, Moe Veissi, issuing the following statement: “The National Association of Realtors is disappointed that language protecting the mortgage interest deduction wasn’t included in the Republican platform but will continue to work closely with our congressional allies to support housing and homeownership issues because they affect all Americans and are critical to stabilizing and restoring the health of the housing market and broader economy.”
- And “work closely” NAR did, and overnight, the GOP reversed its position, refining its stance and stating that though it would seek reform of the U.S. tax code, if push comes to shove, it would fight to “preserve the mortgage interest deduction,” as the Wall Street Journal described it.
The Political Savviness of NAR
The mortgage interest tax deduction is quite pricey. As the Journal pointed out, the anticipated cost of the deduction is $84 billion for 2012 alone, so it’s a testament to NAR’s political savvy that it was able to convince the Republicans to reverse their position, particularly with the budget being such a political hot topic and with the nomination of Paul Ryan (one of the nation’s most devout budget hawks) for the vice presidency.