Obama prepares for career as landlord

It’s an idea so beautiful in its simplicity and so perfectly targeted to cure one of our biggest national headaches that many readers will be slapping their foreheads in one of those, “I could have had a V-8” moments. The housing market is still in the tank and the government has been forced to foreclose on countless properties which now sit vacant, generating no tax revenue. The nation’s coffers are running dry and we have to tackle our debt problem. But nobody wants to raise taxes. What to do?

Why, you kill two birds with one stone, of course! We’ll let the government go into the property rental business!

The Obama administration may turn thousands of government-owned foreclosures into rental properties to help boost falling home prices.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Wednesday it is seeking input from investors on how to rent homes owned by government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration.

At the end of last month, the government owned roughly 248,000 foreclosed homes, officials said. About 70,000 of those are listed for sale. But officials expect the number of foreclosures to soar in the coming months.

What could possibly go wrong? Over at Pajamas Media, Bryan Preston suspects that even in such an obviously brilliant scheme, there might be a few wrinkles.

[N]ot to put too fine a point on things, renting your home from the government raises all kinds of liberty questions. If they don’t like your politics, can they find a way to evict you? Can they tell you what to do (more than the government already does) in the home you’re renting from Uncle Sam? With a president hitting 51% disapproval, an IRS that’s become notorious for political audits and federal law enforcement agencies known lately more for gunrunning than crime stopping, that’s not an idle question. Would the feds allow renters to own firearms in these government homes? The majority of renters between now and 2012 are likely to be people who don’t like their landlord, but the landlord has, shall we say, serious firepower superiority. There’s a great deal to ponder here.

It’s difficult to imagine what a mess this would wind up being in court, if only on the constitutional authority questions. Preston offers an alternate suggestion of scrapping Fannie and Freddie entirely and spinning off all of those properties at open, public auctions. Granted, that would have a sudden, if short term negative impact on the real estate market, but it could conceivably hasten the process of allowing it to find its natural bottom and begin rebuilding from there in an organic fashion.

But who knows? If we let Washington handle it as proposed, there would probably be all sorts of exemptions and set-asides built into the system and you might wind up renting a mansion for fifty bucks a month. And if the house is built well enough it will provide you with a place to hide when the zombie apocalypse begins.

Cash for Bunkers?