There is no question that many Americans have become addicted to debt and live way beyond their means. But one of the best ways of determining whether or not someone can really afford his or her lifestyle is to examine credit history-not simply the level of debt. But these new rules would punish even those borrowers who have never missed a payment and have exemplary credit ratings.
It also treats income as if it is fixed over a borrower's lifetime. A relatively young college graduate may have significant debt from earning that degree, but his or her income is likely to increase substantially over the 30 years of a mortgage, and restricting access to a loan on that basis makes little sense.
And, of course, the obverse is also possible. Incomes fall as well as rise. Just because someone is earning a lot today doesn't mean he or she will be making the same amount next year or the following.
But the real problem with these rules is what they will do to the overall housing market. Without buyers, home prices will continue to plummet. There are already too many unsold houses on the market, about twice the number you'd expect in a healthy environment. And the administration's solution is to drive millions of credit-worthy buyers from being able to purchase them?
These Obama administration rules could turn what increasingly appears to be a double-dip economic recession into a full-scale depression. The president will pay politically for this disastrous policy -- but Americans will pay out of their actual pockets for his folly.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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