No debt-ceiling deal can gut the home mortgage deduction 

During the 2010 campaign cycle, I heard a lot of campaign speeches and asked a lot of candidates questions on my radio show.

Not one candidate, winner or loser, campaigned on ending or limiting the home mortgage deduction. 

Almost 40 million families use the deduction, 65 percent of whom earn less than $100,000 a year and nine out of 10 of whom make less than $200,000 annually.

The value of the deduction, which will grow as interest rates begin their inevitable rise, is built into the value of every home in America. Cut it, and the value of every home declines. Eliminate it, and a minimum drop of 10 percent in the value of every home follows.

Even if a limitation is imposed only on the most expensive homes, those will fall in value and thus all homes below them fall in value.

The National Association of Realtors estimates that the end of the deduction means a 15 percent drop in the value of homes.

Imagine the impact on people’s confidence. Imagine the impact on the bottom line of banks.

Tell home builders that slashing or ending the mortgage interest deduction won’t kill jobs.

When House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy appeared on my program last Thursday, he flatly assured my audience that there was no proposal on the table to tinker with the deduction.

“That is not going to get through Congress,” McCarthy said. “Let’s be realistic. The economy has collapsed starting with housing. We’re still weak within it, and we’re going to go in and do more damage to it?

“And you’re going to tell the American public that went in and bought a house and have this deduction, and budgeted themselves, that now we’re wiping it away?” McCarthy added.

Still, the Washington Post has reported that the “common ground” between the president and House Speaker John Boehner included a reduction in the mortgage interest deduction, a change that would raise the taxes of millions of Americans.

The secret negotiations have to be opened up, and Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have to lay out exactly where the $800 billion in revenues that the speaker offered the president would come from.

The GOP leadership has twice now been said to be “close” to huge “deals” with the president, the outlines of which haven’t even been shared with the GOP caucus.

Perhaps the Post’s reports are erroneous.  Perhaps the GOP hasn’t caved on this deduction or any other element of its “Pledge to America.”

The Republican victory in 2010 wasn’t waged on the promise of grand bargains resulting in stimulus-
size tax hikes, whether or not they are called “reform” by Beltway insiders.

The pledge was a promise, and the GOP caucus should refuse to break it.

Examiner columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at

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Hugh Hewitt


Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at

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