As the 2012 Republican primary season rolls on, with the next primary in Florida on Tuesday, January 31, foreclosure victims, underwater homeowners, and owners of distressed properties in the Sunshine State look to the slate of candidates for proposed solutions as they tour the state in advance of the election.
Florida has long since been near the top of the list when it comes to home foreclosures. The state’s current foreclosure rate remains sky high, with one out of every 360 housing units in the state in some part of the foreclosure process. South Florida has been particularly hit hard by the foreclosure crisis; it’s foreclosure rate of over 18% is six times higher than the national rate of 3.51%. Since the area contains a significant portion of the state’s population – and registered voters – the housing market is at the top of the list of issues in the state.
Unfortunately for Florida homeowners, none of the four main candidates – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul – has offered any significant plans on fixing the broken housing market and restoring a sense of normalcy to a domestic market that is marked by high numbers of foreclosure properties and falling home values.
Part of the silence from the Republican nominees is due to their ideological backgrounds, which call for less government interference in the market. Romney, extolling this approach, has stated repeatedly that the best solution is to indirectly impact the housing market by creating jobs through tax cuts and other alleged solutions for unemployment and other economic woes.
Gingrich has largely echoed these sentiments, stating that government interference in the housing market helped to lead to the current mess that has resulted in millions of foreclosures over the past few years and left millions more owing more on their homes than what they are worth. Gingrich has come under fire lately for his ties as a lobbyist with Freddie Mac, one of the key agencies accused by Republican critics of playing a major role in the crisis.
Paul is even more anti-government when it comes to housing solutions. Santorum, for his part, did recommend a refinancing plan, and he and Romney have advocated looser restrictions for loan modifications.
Still, the most prominent Republican solution for the foreclosure crisis seems to be to let the market “run its course and hit the bottom” (according to Romney). For Florida residents, that may not be an acceptable course of action.