After Health Care Reform?

The new Obama administration Housing Justice Czar is describing the sweeping, new legislation proposed by the President. Let’s listen in …

“We obviously have great inequity in housing in America that requires comprehensive and courageous reform. First, we have some people living in massive, monstrously over-sized, over-built, luxurious estates as if royalty in castles. Others with larger families and more need for space live in small, cramped houses and apartments, not to mention the people who are entirely homeless.

This legislation will create fair and equal access to appropriate housing and to home ownership for every American. Public-option housing will no longer exist only in a very limited number of inner-city locations; the government will take ownership of or build public housing projects in every community, exercising eminent domain as necessary. This legislation also has a ‘trigger’ too complex to adequately describe in this announcement, but, in essence, should housing inequities not be satisfactorily erased within thirty-six months, forced re-assignment of properties may occur.

Second, we have a housing system burdened with layer upon layer of profit-taking – profiteering actually – that places a basic right of fair housing out of reach of many. The grossly excessive profits currently involved in real estate transactions, upkeep of homes, and insuring of homes must be reigned in to reasonable levels. This legislation will appoint a new Pay Czar for the real estate development, construction and sales industries, to develop appropriate limits on profit per square foot of construction for architects, developers and builders. We will develop a tiered, flat-fee compensation schedule to replace commissions for real estate brokers and agents, capped at a total of $2,000.00 per transaction.

Comprehensive homeowners’ insurance reform is also part of this legislation, including a government-run public option, as well as an end to private insurers denying coverage or adjusting rates based on the location of property or the creditworthiness or demonstrated financial responsibility of the homeowner. There will be no discriminatory pricing tolerated. And insurers will not be able to cancel policies or raise rates without specific government approval, regardless of the number of burglaries, fires or floods that may occur. This legislation will limit the profits in the manufacture and sale of all products and services related to home maintenance and improvement.

I want to assure everyone that this important legislation will be made revenue neutral and will not add to the deficit. Accordingly, everyone who owns excessive housing, by square footage, or value in excess of $250,000, or multiple homes will be subject to a federal property tax of 6 percent of the total property value per year. Further, everyone earning in excess of $250,000.00 a year will pay a 1 percent housing fund tax on gross income. There will be a real estate transaction tax on every title transfer: 1 percent on properties valued below $250,000, 9 percent on those valued at $250,001 to $500,000, and 15 percent on those ‘Cadillac properties’ valued at $500,001 and above.

Owners of apartment buildings, condominiums or single family homes rented to others will pay a federal housing fund tax of 3.5 percent of all rents received. This will discourage the profiteering that keeps people trapped as tenants, and will help facilitate 100 percent home ownership – the only just societal objective.

Finally, a value-added tax of 2 percent will be imposed on all products and services deemed ‘non-essential luxury home goods and services,’ such as high-priced home furnishings, hardwood flooring, swimming pools, decks, over-size grills, as well as such services as interior decorating, landscaping, and pool maintenance. We believe that the combination of these taxes will more than balance out the costs of expansive public option housing, public option homeowners’ insurance, and administration, and enforcement of the compensation and profit limitations and other regulatory requirements of this program. We hope these taxes will also discourage wealthy buyers from purchasing outrageously over-built residences.

I would also like to assure everyone, our research and expert analysis indicates there will be no significant negative impact of this long overdue housing reform on small business, employment and job creation, property values or other aspects of the national or local economies.”

Far-fetched? You rarely hear this pointed out in media discussion of so-called health care reform: every argument made for it, as cobbled together by House, Senate or Obama administration, can certainly be made for housing, clothing, food.

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur, adviser to business owners, sought-after speaker and author of 13 books. More information about Dan can be found at, and a free collection of his business resources including newsletters and webinars at

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