When AP’s White House, government and politics reporter Nancy Benac called Roy Oppenheim for his opinion; the foreclosure defense attorney talked about the thousand pound gorilla AKA the housing market.
Everyone is talking about jobs in Washington. Though getting Americans back to work should be a top concern, it’s what’s not being talked about that could hurt Obama this election season.
An article in the Huffington Post, Forbes, and syndicated via the Associate Press, highlights the reality that the housing market is still in a state of turmoil. But the bad news for Obama is five states with some of the highest home foreclosure numbers are the swing states he needs to win if he hopes to serve a second term.
Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida account for 80 electoral votes and the home foreclosure issue is one that is constantly on the minds of voters in these states. Almost 11 million homeowners are underwater on their mortgages and these five states sit at the top of a very short list. According to CoreLogic, 45% of people in Florida are upside down. Nevada had the highest percentage at 60%. Arizona and Michigan fell in at 49% and 36% respectively.
“[It’s] the thousand-pound gorilla in the room,” says Roy Oppenheim, a Florida foreclosure defense attorney who speaks of “suburban blight” in his home state, of gutted homes, of entire neighborhoods where banks are bulldozing foreclosures.
Obama set high expectations for turning things around, Oppenheim says, and hasn’t been able to deliver, leaving people disillusioned.
“At some point, you don’t judge people by how well they speak, you judge them by their actions,” says the attorney, who backed Obama in the 2008 presidential race. “I continue, I guess, to support him, but I do it very reluctantly.”
Although the president did mention the housing situation briefly, his focus has mainly been on the current fight to push through the jobs bill. Shockingly, the Republicans have been equally quiet on the issue.
Oppenheim continues to push for a large and bold refinancing program that would allow millions of families to refinance thus rejuvenating the economy as well as neighborhoods.
The reality is, though, if Obama wants the support of his constituents, he must address the foreclosure problem quickly. People are getting anxious and further delay on the issue could cost him the presidency in 2012.