At a townhall meeting, CNBC’s John Harwood asked President Obama this housing question: Does the housing market need to “find its bottom and then get back up?”

The president gave a standard “on one hand, but on the other hand” type answer:

Well, this was the argument that Rick Santelli made. This is when he went on that rant about the Tea Party. (Applause.) It is a fair economic argument that some people make that say, you know what, just leave it alone, and if people are losing their homes, they’ve got to lose their homes, and if the housing market has to go down another 10 percent, just let it go down another 10 percent, and eventually it will find bottom. That’s the argument that’s being made out there.

I guess my job as President is to think about those families that are losing their home not as some abstract numbers. I mean, these are real people who worked really hard for that house. And we think it’s very important that speculators, people who are just trying to flip condos, et cetera, that they’re not getting help. We think it’s very important to acknowledge that some people just bought too much house; they couldn’t afford it. And it’s not fair for the rest of us to have to subsidize them because of bad judgments and mistakes that they made.

On the other hand, we also think it’s important to recognize that if you’ve got communities where you’ve got — every other house is foreclosed, that that’s bad for the economy as a whole.

So these are all tough decisions. But the main point I want to make is, is that we are going to constantly reexamine what we’re doing. We are open to new ideas that are out there, and if we think something is going to work to put people to work, then absolutely we’re going to try to make it happen

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