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Thursday, November 05, 2009 11:57 AM


$45 Billion Boondoggle of Which $33 Billion Goes To Homebuilders


The Senate approved yet another plan to stimulate the economy. It's called throwing $33 billion at homebuilders. This is of course doing nothing but giving money to the greedy pigs that helped create this mess. However, that is the way Washington works.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid even had the gall to brag about it. Please consider Senate Approves Extended U.S. Homebuyer Tax Credit.

The U.S. Senate approved a $45 billion plan to expand a tax credit for first-time homebuyers, extend jobless benefits and provide tax refunds to money-losing companies.

Lawmakers voted 98-0 for the measure, sending it to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said in a statement it will receive a vote as early as tomorrow. The bill then would be forwarded to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The plan would be the first major extension of provisions in February’s economic stimulus plan. The $8,000 homebuyers’ tax credit, slated to expire this month, would continue until April 30 and be expanded to include people with higher incomes and some who already own homes. That would cost about $10 billion in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation.

The measure includes $2.4 billion to extend unemployment benefits for as many as 20 weeks, enough to aid the jobless through the holiday season. It would loosen tax rules for homebuilders and other money-losing companies to let them claim an estimated $33 billion in tax refunds this year, according to Joint Committee on Taxation estimates.

“Republicans used every trick in the book to slow and stall and ensure we can’t do important work,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said today.

Other Stimulus Measures

Lawmakers are still considering whether to extend several other elements of the stimulus package, including subsidies to help the jobless buy health insurance and increased funds for food stamps. Obama has called for sending seniors $250 checks because they won’t get a cost-of-living increase next year in their Social Security checks.

Waste of Money

Senator Christopher Bond, a Missouri Republican, called the tax credit a waste of money, saying studies show that most of those claiming the break would have bought homes anyway.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a research note yesterday that the credit probably spurred 200,000 home sales that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred.

Extending the credit to people who own homes wouldn’t reduce the excess housing blamed for the slump because “every buyer taking advantage of the move-up credit would necessarily be a seller,” Goldman Sachs said. It said the plan may increase housing prices by 1 percent because “sellers are likely to incorporate a fraction of the credit amount in their sale prices.”
Waste Of Money

Of course it's a waste of money. The most galling thing about it is $33 billion of the $45 billion is not going to do anything but pad the pockets of those who helped create this mess. A mere $2.4 billion was given to extend unemployment benefits.

If Goldman Sachs is correct (and I believe they are), then most of the $10 billion in tax credits is a waste as well. Moreover, we have a huge inventory of homes already and we are creating incentives to build more.

The whole thing reeks and the Senate knows it. Note that Senator Christopher Bond called it a waste of money but there was not a single "No Vote". The bill passed 98-0 undoubtedly because the homebuilders padded the pockets of those voting for it with campaign contributions. This is the way Congress "works".

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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