Obama takes veiled shot at Romney in housing remarks

President Barack Obama speaks at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. Obama outlined a proposal he proposed in his State of the Union address to allow homeowners with privately held mortgages to take advantage of record low rates, for an annual savings of about $3,000 for the average borrower.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama speaks at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In remarks unveiling his new plan to provide relief for American homeowners, President Obama on Wednesday painted a stark contrast between his concept for fixing the housing crisis and the Republican alternative. Specifically, Mitt Romney's alternative.

Speaking to a crowd in Falls Church, Va., Mr. Obama outlined a series of steps he says will put in place to help people refinance their mortgages, saving them up to $3,000 a year. He also proposed a "Homeowners Bill of Rights" and a plan to turn foreclosed homes into rental properties to prevent falling property values.

"Government must take responsibility for rules of the road that are fair and fairly enforced. Banks and lenders must be held accountable for ending the practices that helped cause this crisis in the first place. And all of us must take responsibility for our own actions - or lack of action," Mr. Obama said.

In an oblique reference to Romney, the Republican front-runner to take on the president in the fall, Mr. Obama decried the concept of a hands-off policy like that which the former Massachusetts governor supports, arguing that "It is wrong for anyone to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit rock bottom. I refuse to accept that and so do the American people."

Though he did not mention Romney by name, the president's comments spoke clearly to remarks the Republican presidential candidate made in Nevada last year. Speaking to the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review Journal in October, Romney laid out his own plan for fixing the housing crisis: "As to what to do for the housing industry specifically and are there things that you can do to encourage housing: One is, don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom," Romney said.

In remarks to reporters Tuesday, Romney attempted to pit Mr. Obama's housing record against him: "If you are part of the housing crisis, you are probably not going to get elected president," he said.