LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday he'd save money by refinancing the mortgage on his Chicago home, but he hasn't jumped on current low interest rates because "when you're president you have to be a little careful about these transactions."
Obama didn't say how much money he thought he could save on the home on Chicago's South Side. He has said federal programs have helped millions of homeowners save an average of $3,000 by refinancing at lower rates.
Obama is paying 5.625 percent interest on the 30-year mortgage on the home, which is worth between $500,000 and $1 million, according to financial disclosure forms released this year. The average rate on the 30-year loan was 4.39 percent last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.
"I would probably benefit from refinancing now. I would save some money," Obama said while answering questions submitted by users of Zillow, an online real estate database. "When you're president you have to be a little careful about these transactions so we haven't refinanced."
The half-hour session conducted during the president's visit to California focused on housing and at times had the feel of an advice show as Obama sympathized with questioners expressing concern about maintaining their home values or being stuck living with their parents because they can't afford to rent an apartment.
The appearance followed Obama's speech Tuesday in Phoenix, in which he proposed a broad overhaul of the nation's mortgage finance system, including phasing out government-backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The president's focus on housing is part of a summertime tour aimed at building public support for his economic proposals before fiscal fights with congressional Republicans in the fall.
Obama pledged in the Zillow interview to push Congress to pass his plan before the end of the year.
The president spent Tuesday and Wednesday on the West Coast promoting his housing proposals. Before returning to Washington, he visited with troops, mostly Marines, and their families at Camp Pendleton south of Los Angeles and addressed recent threats from al-Qaida that led the U.S. to close 19 diplomatic outposts and evacuate its embassy in Yemen.
"The United States is never going to retreat from the world. We don't get terrorized," he told nearly 3,000 people packed into a hangar. "We're going to keep working with our allies and our partners, we're going to keep offering a future of hope and progress in stark contrast to terrorists who only know how to kill and destroy and maim."
Obama said the U.S. will remain "the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known."
Before the speech, Obama met privately with wounded service members and families whose loved ones were killed during military service, the White House said. He also met with three members of Congress who represent Southern California districts: Republicans Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher, and Democrat Susan Davis.
Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is one of Obama's most searing congressional critics. He has been driving investigations into last September's assault on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative political groups.
Separately Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney disclosed that Obama dined Tuesday night at his Los Angeles hotel room with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks, a Hollywood production company.
Follow Julie Pace on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jpaceDC