The American dream is owning your own home, and for more than half a century the government has encouraged home ownership through low-interest loans and tax breaks. Today, about two-thirds of American households own their homes. Or I should say, partly own them. Banks and other mortgage lenders own the other part. And here's the potential problem.
You see, homes are about the only assets whose value has increased during these bleak economic times. That's at least partly due to the fact that interest rates are at rock-bottom lows, meaning that a lot of people can now afford a mortgage to buy a home, thereby boosting the housing market.
With the holidays and the congressional interregnum, Washington has been a quiet place in recent weeks. But that quiet belies feverish behind-the-scenes planning as political partisans and advocacy groups get set for a particularly contentious legislative session.