(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
WASHINGTON, DC - KOLO 8 News Now's Pat Hambright sat down with the Commander in Chief Thursday to discuss the Buffett Plan, budget, housing and unemployment in Nevada.
The Buffett Plan is soon to head toward the Senate floor. Its goal: to force those who make more than a million bucks to not receive less of a tax break than your secretary or a teacher or a plumber, says the president.
"We've gotta balance those like myself who can afford to do a little more to do so, because if we don't, either it means the deficit continues to be increased because we are getting the tax breaks we didn't need and the country can't afford or we're putting an additional burden on students who have to pay a higher interest rate for student loans or seniors who have to pay more for prescriptions or the veteran who doesn't get services he needs to re-adjust after they've served us."
"Our attitude is, lets cut out the programs we don't need and pay for those things we need to grow and pay for it it in a balanced way."
On housing, Hambright asked a question posed by KOLO 8 viewer Don Lahrson, who writes: "I bought my home approximately five yars ago. I put 80k down, everything I could, and my home is worth less than half what I paid for it. I always thought my home would be a big part of my retirement and now, it's a huge deficit. What can be done about me and others like me?
The President says:
"We’re pushing as hard as we can on every front to try to strengthen the housing market. Especially in places like Nevada, if not to get them where they were but at least to a place above water again. We have been able to avoid foreclosures in Nevada by helping folks modify loans. We are pushing very hard to make sure that everybody who we can identify can refinance at historically low rates. That could save 2500-3000 dollars to restore equity or have more cash in pocket to spend on the economy.
Right now we’ve been able to do that through administration for people with Freddie or Fannie or some quasi-government entities. We need Congress to act so that everyone we can identify – like your viewer – is qualified for that. In addition we’ve provided additional dollars to the state of Nevada and other hard-hit states so they can deal with the housing crisis and tailor it to the need of the local market. But the truth is with all the efforts we’ve done, including housing settlement resulting in 25 billion worth of relief including some principal modification and reduction, despite all that work, we still have a long way to go especially in a place like Nevada. We are looking for additional ideas to stabilize the housing market - unlike some people out there, I don’t agree with sitting back and letting the market bottom out before we help build it up – because it’s so important to so many people."
Pat then asked, "So any help with principal reduction?"
"What we’re doing is trying to urge banks and private sector if they are holding mortgages – to tell them you are better off dealing with responsible homeowners -- who through no fault of their own ended up being underwater -- work with them to stay in their home and over time build up principal once again. Smart thing to do to be more aggressive, need more congressional actions, and frankly haven’t gotten much support from GOP on that, but Senator Reid cares deeply about this issue and he and I have talked about how to do more for people who have seen their homes goes underwater in this housing crisis."
"The most important thing I can do for folks out of work is to create an economic environment where we are creating jobs. The good news is over the past two years we have created more than 4 million jobs, 600 thousand the past few months, yet unemployment is still too high. Continue to invest in clean energy. Last time I visited Nevada, a solar energy site that is saving people money, environment, creating jobs. It’s one of the reasons we push Congress to rebuild infrastructure. In Nevada, one of the biggest losses is in construction. And with the housing not coming back as quickly as we’d liked, it's important to get those construction workers back rebuilding things, and we could get a huge bang for the buck putting people to work and creating a platform for future economic growth. Why not rebuild America right now? Focus on American workers and eventually Nevada is going to come all the way back."