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Dreier writes: "It is time for reporters following Mitt to start asking him some questions about housing, a serious problem today."

Mitt Romney's $10 million dollar New Hampshire home in Wolfeboro, on Lake Winnepesaukee. (photo: Jim Cole/AP)
Mitt Romney's $10 million dollar New Hampshire home in Wolfeboro, on Lake Winnepesaukee. (photo: Jim Cole/AP)

Mitt's Many Mansions and the Foreclosure Crisis

By Peter Dreier, AlterNet

07 August 12


It is time for reporters following Mitt to start asking him some questions about the crisis we face in our housing markets.

t is time for reporters following Mitt to start asking him some questions about housing, a serious problem today.

Housing is a topic that Mitt should know something about. After all, his father George served as the nation's housing secretary during the Nixon administration. And Mitt currently owns three homes , according to Zillow.

  • In 1989, Romney bought a seven-bedroom, 6.5-bath home in upscale Belmont, a Boston suburb. The 6,434 square foot house is situated on 2.44 acres. With his kids grown, Romney sold the house in 2009 for $3.5 million - 293 percent more than the purchase price of $890,000 twenty years earlier. (This is the kind of job-creating entrepreneurship that - along with inheriting his father's fortune - made Romney a rich man). The following year Romney - the former Massachusetts governor who needed a local address in order to run for president - bought a two-bedroom, 2,100 square foot townhouse in Belmont for $895,000.
  • Romney's weekend vacation estate, which sits on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H., includes a three-story, six-bedroom, 5,400 square foot main house, plus an additional guest house, that are worth an estimated $10 million.
  • In 2008, Romney purchased a $12 million 3,000 square foot beachfront Spanish-style villa, with unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean, in tony La Jolla, California. Last year, over the objections of his neighbors, Romney filed an application with the city to bulldoze the single-story beachfront home and replace it with a 12,000 square foot two-story home, including a split-level four-car garage equipped with an elevator for his cars.
  • Three years ago, however - like many other American families - the Romneys had to say goodbye to one of their houses. That was the seven-bedroom, 9.5 bath 9,514 square foot house, located on 11 acres, that they owned in Park City, Utah. The Romneys bought it as a vacation home in 1999 and lived there while he was working as CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. They sold the house in 2009 for a little under the $5.25 million asking price, according to Zillow.

Two of Mitt's current homes - the lakefront compound in New Hampshire and the beachfront mansion in La Jolla - sit on the water. So surely Mitt can sympathize with the millions of Americans whose homes are "under water," worth less than their mortgages because of the dramatic decline of housing values. Then there are the millions more who have lost their homes to foreclosure.

Wall Street's reckless behavior crashed the economy. In the past six years, housing prices nationwide have fallen by a third. Families have lost nearly $7 trillion of home equity. About 15 million homeowners owe $700 billion more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Millions of middle-class families have watched their major source of wealth stripped away, their neighborhoods decimated, and their future economic security destroyed.

What's Mitt's response? In an interview last October with the Las Vegas Review-Journal , based in a state where foreclosures have reached epidemic levels, Mitt said: "Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom." Then he suggested: "Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up."

Shortly after this interview, Mitt further displayed his faith in the free market at a round table discussion at a hotel in Tampa, Florida, another state where housing prices have plummeted and has been hit hard by foreclosures. Candice Tammey told Romney her situation, a plight familiar to millions of American families.

She lost her job and asked her bank to negotiate a loan modification so she could keep paying her mortgage. The bank refused, so Tammey, out of options, stopped paying her mortgage and faced being foreclosed.

"It will get better," Romney told her, according to CNN's online video stream of the event. "It will not always be like this."

Taking the side of the bank industry lobby, Romney also wants to dismantle the Dodd-Frank law, and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which strengthened protections for consumers, including homeowners, against predatory and abusive corporate lenders.

Across the country, millions of "under water" voters - Democrats and Independents and even some Republicans - are desperate. This is particularly true in many key swing states - including Florida, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Colorado. These voters, for whom the American Dream has become a nightmare, could be an important voting bloc in the November election.

The best solution is for the federal government to require banks to write down the principal on their mortgages so that their mortgages are worth market value. If mortgages were reset, this would not only fix the foreclosure crisis but also pump $71 billion into the economy annually and create over one million jobs a year.

The Obama administration has proposed a "principal reduction" fix, but only on a voluntary basis. Obama needs to ratchet up his demands on the banks, require them to modify "under water" loans that have put millions of families in economic jeopardy through not fault of their own, and contrast his approach with Romney's "Let it run its course and hit the bottom" approach.

By taking on the banking lobby, and helping millions of homeowners who are suffering because of Wall Street's risky and illegal practices, Obama will help guarantee his re-election in November. Then Mitt can go back to his homes in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and California - and perhaps buy another one in the Cayman Islands, where he can visit his money.

See Also: Ryan Lochte's Parents Face Foreclosure in Florida your social media marketing partner


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+39 # erogers 2012-08-07 15:50
What has America become? Romney does not have a clue about what the average working class American does on any given day. Yet, he claims to have the answers to fixing our economy. The best answer he could give is to declare that he is not fit to seek the office of President or for that matter any office. Just go back to whatever mansion you crawled out of Romney, you are without a doubt a poor example of humanity. However I will give you credit for a wee bit of discretion. You did not have an elevator put in for the damned dancing horse.
+8 # HowardMH 2012-08-08 08:24
I can totally relate to your comments about Romney, but is it Romney who is the problem or the millions of really stupid people that believe the campaign videos the richest 50 people are paying for. Until the Idiots (and I’m not referring to the politicians who are totally bought and paid for) engage brain and realize how bad they are being screwed nothing is going to happen on Capital Hill.

You ask what has America become. Ans. I country of complacent idiots that are being taken to the cleaners and are so stupid they don’t even know it.

Until there are two hundred thousand really, really pissed off people on Capital Hill (all at the same time) raising some serious hell absolutely nothing is ever, ever going to happen to these totally bought and paid for by the richest 50 people in the world that are becoming more and more powerful with each passing rigged election thanks to the stupid people.
+30 # NanFan 2012-08-07 19:58
America is vapid and sees Rommey all wrong. He is totally out of touch with America and he has NO idea about the true plight of the American homeowner.

A pox on you, Robme!

+15 # Virginia 2012-08-07 22:58
Well - that just did it for the fence sitters... there is no frickin' way I'd vote for Romney! What an idiot!

Mitt said: "Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom." Then he suggested: "Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up."

And in whose lifetime if this keeps going does Mitt think we will ever hit bottom?! Not that Barry has been much better - but at least there are some days when I think he sees the light.

Out of touch? He's out of his mind. Just like Wall Street - totally delusional!
+9 # James Smith 2012-08-08 08:27
At least we're seeing some sanity on here. Unfortunately, He'll take almost all of the Mormon vote and much of the religious reich, too. He's pandering to their true core value, "I've got mine, screw you!"
+7 # mdhome 2012-08-08 10:01
RoMoney sees a way to make a huge ton of money by buying the forclosed homes for dirt cheap, renting them until the market comes back and selling them for a giant profit of capital gains (low tax) and adding to his massive pile of money. Greedy Fu(ker.
+12 # Regina 2012-08-08 00:09
The Romneys confuse ultra-wealth with royalty, because they can buy all the trappings they feel like acquiring. They haven't a single solitary clue about the general public. Mitt has shown himself to be so far removed from reality that he cannot conceive of, let alone comprehend, the problems and limitations of real life. Aside from his ridiculous opinions on any and every issue put before him, he is absolutely unfit for any phase of governing -- he has far less awareness of the American populace than Queen Elizabeth has of "her" subjects. I'll bet that she doesn't have an elevator for her cars!
+14 # apollobartender 2012-08-08 03:19
Free enterprise and trade can be void of predatory practices and vulture capitalism. There used to bean acknowledged level of decency among us all, and those who chose vulture capitalism did not come to the forefront and feign leadership of the masses qualities. Romney is not a leader, he is a stingy, self centered business man, which makes him successful in that arena. He wants to dominate this political process without any sense of justice or intent to serve the public at all, because he can buy it. I hope as Americans we opt for civil leadership.
+9 # James Smith 2012-08-08 05:58
As the election draws nearer, we are going to see more of these things revealed. I'm sure the DNC is saving their big guns for October.

The GOP should blow off this election and focus their cash and other resources on rebuilding the party and trying to find a candidate that can defeat Hilary Clinton in 2016. (Hint: try to find one who is not bat-shit crazy)
+3 # pernsey 2012-08-08 07:59
Quite honestly, if they are crazy the dems got a huge chance to win. If the GOP had even a semi-viable candidate I would be worried about them. But I think each and every day Mitt is losing his credibility with every time he opens his mouth.

On the off chance Mitt the lunatic wins though...that is really scarry. Maybe your right atleast if the candidate had half of a brain, the prospect of him winning wouldnt be so terrifying.
+1 # Old Man 2012-08-08 10:37
I'm ready for the debate to start. I'm sick and tired of hearing nothing of how he will fix the economy. He doesn't have a clue just like our tea-publican congress. Sign the damn jobs bill the President put in front of there yrs.ago.
+2 # dkonstruction 2012-08-08 11:04
My initial reaction to the first part of this piece was "well, FDR didn't exactly live in a shack and he brought us the New Deal." And, somehow i don't remember democrats/progr essives complaining about John Kerry's wealth (even if he married into it). So, while income disparity/conce ntration of wealth (the "wealth gap") is an important issue we need to be calling for an economic restructuring so that it works for everyone (a "Green New Deal"). I think we need to keep our eyes on the ball so that we don't open ourselves up to easy attacks by conseratives that we're hypocrits (only critical of "conservative wealth"; or are not offering real, practical, implementable solutions that sound "commonsensical " to most folks so we don't continue to just talk to ourselves. For example,why are we not manufacturing our own buses and subways? why are the vast majority of "green products" such as solar panels and light bulbs not built here in the US? Why are we not producing "living wage" jobs that cannot be outsourced (such as those tied to "anchor institutions" like universities and hospitals -- for more on this see the website for the Democracy Collaborative)? Why are we not putting people back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure? The old New Deal (for all its faults) was a visionary program that created 8.5+ million jobs. We need to focus on what matters and what can make a real difference and bitching about how much Romney's homes are worth isn't it.
+5 # Debbie.Grey 2012-08-08 11:38
Me, I keep wondering which of these houses was his official voting address in any one election year. I can't put it past him to have cast multiple ballots.

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