The Boston Herald has a real doozy of a one-sided article musing about the “unfairness” of the mortgage deduction. This is how the media whips up a drumbeat that’s started by politicians. The article Is the mortgaged deduction dying? is from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service and has so many holes in it you could strain your spaghetti in it.
It starts with the premise that the mortgage deduction could face a “day of reckoning” (implying it is evil, to begin with). Then it uses the cheap trick of quoting unnamed but highfalutin’ sounding sources (to convey the writer’s opinion with a thin cover of “legitimacy”). The sources (unnamed) are: “scholars” who have “long argued” (really?) it’s unfair because only people who itemize their deductions qualify. So lazy tax filers are the victims here. Also, people who have paid off their mortgage don’t qualify either (how unfair!). The article also says “many politicians” are “rethinking” if homeownership is a good idea. Presumably, all these unnamed politicians rent.
The article then says that the current deduction “costs” the government $85 billion. This is the argument that says if I don’t charge you $1 million for a candy bar then you have “cost” me $1 million. Also, people with more expensive mortgages get more dollars back, and many of these layabouts live in the East too and are young (boo!!! hisss!!! East Coast, boo!!!). We don’t know where the McClatchy-Tribune news service is based, but it may surprise them to know not everyone on the East Coast lives like Jay Gatsby. The article conveniently glosses over the fact that the deficit commission mused about modifying the mortgage deduction when offset by reductions in marginal tax rates. So the goal of spurring growth by lowering tax rates morphs into the argument that the mortgage deduction is “unfair” and “only for the rich.”