WSJ Editor Rethinks The American Dream

NPR's Steve Inskeep interviews Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel on aspects of the American dream of home ownership that apparently are not working. Not only does Wessel suggest eliminating the tax deduction, but pushes renting too.
June 24, 2010, 2pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Inskeep is quite surprised by Wessel's questioning a system which the federal government has pushed on the American people "for generations". Wessel states that this was of the major causes of the financial crisis - promoting home ownership to those who couldn't afford it. Moreover, he notes that it is not lifting people out of poverty as has long been held.

"Why doesn't the president of the United States ever get up and say, 'You can be a full-fledged American citizen and rent an apartment - it's OK,' " Wessel says. "That's not what presidents have traditionally said."

"How about doing away with the mortgage interest tax deduction? Canadians* don't have that tax break, and as a result, they're encouraged to pay down their mortgages more quickly.

Doing away with the mortgage interest tax deduction "is one of those things that economists talk about and politicians just aren't going to do anytime soon because it's so popular," Wessel says."

[*Contributor's note: Professor Richard Florida of the University of Toronto might dispute Wessel's assessment of home ownership in Canada].

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Published on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 in NPR Morning Edition
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