How opponents of Obama's housing plan could gain traction.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Feb. 20 2009 7:13 PM

Rant for Rant

Obama's populist smackdown over his housing plan.

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To combat this view, Gibbs and the president point out that much of the plan is aimed at people who have played by the rules and paid their mortgages on time but nevertheless have seen their home values fall below the value of their mortgage. These "underwater" borrowers merely need a hand from government to be in a position to refinance and make their payments easier. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner even suggested they might use that extra money from refinancing somewhere other than in their house, which would act as an economic stimulant.

If there is a potential political problem for Obama in selling the plan, it may not come from the underwater borrowers but the 3 million to 4 million who are "at-risk," whom Obama has also pledged to help. Some of these people did engage in riskier behavior, signing up for no-money-down loans and living beyond their means. If those borrowers become the face of this plan, then maybe the fairness argument will gain broad currency and opponents of the plan will get more of a hearing. But that will probably happen only if the voice of the opposition is that of Willie Honig and not Rick Santelli.