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Housing bill falls short of hype

Perspective: New crisis overshadows praise of recent legislation

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To hear national real estate trade groups tell it, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 enacted eight weeks ago was the most important federal housing bill in the last 30 years. The National Association of Realtors, Mortgage Bankers Association and National Association of Home Builders were downright over-the-top in their praise of the bill's contents, the lofty results it was supposed to achieve and the branches of government that brought it about. But now, with an even bigger federal government bailout of the financial sector on the horizon, the groups' claims for the prior bill sound all the more ridiculous. Modern-day press releases function more like teasers to entice reporters than meaningful commentary on news events. And enthusiasm for anything in these days of woe is all well and good. But was it really necessary for real estate trade groups to commend the president of the United States and thank Congress for finally doing something, even though what the...