Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein reiterates why the home buyer tax credit is wasteful:
Politicians in Washington are desperate to show that they're doing something about jobs.
Unfortunately, what they're proposing to do is to spend a lot of money that they don't have in ways that won't work to help too many people who are neither desperate nor deserving.
Topping the list of idiotic ideas is the bipartisan push to reinflate the housing bubble by not only extending the tax credit for struggling first-time home buyers for six months but also expanding it to another "neglected corner of human misery," as the Heritage Foundation's Ron Utt so aptly put it -- affluent homeowners who want to trade their current places for something better.
This $10 billion boondoggle is nothing more than a giveaway to the real estate industrial complex and people who could afford to buy a new home anyway. Even its most prominent supporters acknowledge that of the first-timers who have already claimed the credit, only one in five wouldn't have bought a home without it, which works out to a cost per sale induced of $45,000. A more impartial estimate, by Goldman Sachs, puts the figure at $75,000. That is almost certain to go even higher once the credit is extended to existing homeowners with incomes of up to $225,000 buying houses worth as much as $800,000. ...
It is disappointing enough that President Obama and his team of crackerjack economic advisers have not had the wisdom or courage to oppose what any first-year graduate student would recognize as truly lousy policy. But perhaps that's because the Panderer in Chief is himself knee deep in stimulus hokum of his own with his proposal to shower Social Security recipients with a $250 cost-of-living increase this year even though their cost of living has actually declined. At a cost of $14 billion in borrowed money, it's a grossly inefficient way to stimulate the economy, create jobs or even boost consumer confidence.