Kenosha News. May 3, 2023.
Editorial: ‘That’s not fair!’
Yeah, we hear that a lot these days.
We heard it last week on Milwaukee talk radio and we read about it in various conservative newspapers.
They were talking about the Biden administration’s plan for the Federal Housing Finance Agency to increase monthly mortgage fees for borrowers with good credit scores.
The higher fees will be used to subsidize individuals with bad credit scores — or as the Washington Examiner put it in its headline: “Deadbeats.”
That’s code, of course, for minorities.
Riskier borrowers with low credit scores or income pay more each month for their mortgage.
Under the FHFA rule change, they will still pay more when the rule goes into effect May 1, but much less than they did before.
To compensate for that lost revenue, borrowers with strong credit will see their monthly bill increase roughly $40 a month on a $400,000 mortgage.
That nets out to an extra $14,400 over the life of a 30-year-year mortgage.
That’s what’s caused the wailing of “that’s not fair!”
Why should someone who has paid their bills on time and established a good credit rating subsidize someone who hasn’t worked to have a good credit history?
On its face, it doesn’t seem fair. And in a perfect world it probably wouldn’t be.
But that’s not the world we live in.
The Biden administration’s proposal is part of the White House’s efforts to remedy racial differences in home ownership.
According to the FHFA, because lenders heavily rely on “certain credit attributes in the current mortgage underwriting process,” Black home loan applications are denied at a higher rate than every other ethnic group in the country — including Hispanics and Native Americans.
And, the agency added, neighborhoods with higher concentrations of Blacks also see lower home prices.
This is not new, of course.
The U.S. has a long history of housing discrimination — including within recent memory the use of redlining and neighborhood covenants to keep minorities out of the housing market and to prevent them from accumulating personal wealth by doing so.
According to the Office of Economic Policy, “The benefits from home ownership have not been shared equally.
In the second quarter of 2022 the homeownership rate for White households was 75% compared to 45% for Black households, 48% for Hispanic households and 57% for non-Hispanic households of any other race.
The policy report, from Nov. 4, 2022, said, “Like the overall racial wealth gaps, these gaps in home ownership rates have changed little over the last three decades.
In fact, the Black-White gap in homeownership rates was the same in 2020 as it was in 1970, just two years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which sought to end racial discrimination in the housing market.”
What, we have to ask, is “fair” about that?
The national home ownership gap of 30% between Blacks and Whites is lamentable. Worse, the Black-White home ownership gap is even wider in Wisconsin — it stands at 47%, according to a Wisconsin Policy Forum report.
Racine and Kenosha both had Black-White home ownership gaps of 43%, the study said.
Those are the numbers that people should be riled up about — particularly since the national ratios haven’t changed in a half century.
Frankly, we doubt the Biden administration’s tinkering with the mortgage fee structure will do much to remedy this, but spare us the moaning about the unfairness of the fee change and take a step back and look at the larger picture.
It’s not pretty.
Wisconsin State Journal. May 4, 2023.
Editorial: Sarah Godlewski should leave elections alone
Sarah Godlewski is understandably looking for something to do. After a failed bid for U.S. Senate last year, she moved from the do-little job of state treasurer to the do-even-less position of secretary of state.
Unlike her predecessor, Doug La Follette, who coasted in the secretary of state’s job for decades, Godlewski wants to get to work and earn a higher profile, perhaps to help her seek higher office again.
We don’t begrudge her ambition. But pretending she has something to do with state elections confuses the public and damages trust in Wisconsin’s voting system, which is already under unfair attack by many conservatives.
Godlewski should knock it off and find a better way to contribute that isn’t redundant or misleading.
Godlewski, a Democrat, drew bipartisan criticism recently for acting like the state’s election administrator when she’s not. Since Gov. Tony Evers appointed her to the job in March (to fill La Follette’s abrupt vacancy just two months into his latest term), Godlewski has repeatedly said she wants to work with municipal clerks to potentially publish ballots, livestream the counting of votes and more.
Godlewski also was scheduled to appear in Chicago on a panel with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to discuss “protecting voters, election integrity and confidence.” Unlike Raffensperger, who actually does oversee election administration in the Peach State, Godlewski has no such duties. The Wisconsin Elections Commission, led by administrator Meagan Wolfe and controlled by a bipartisan board, is in charge of elections here — and rightly so.
Wisconsin wisely removed election duties from its secretary of state’s office in the wake of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. The smart idea then was to professionalize and depoliticize the important function of overseeing elections in a democracy.
To his credit, Raffensperger famously refused to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020, despite intense pressure from losing candidate and then-President Donald Trump. But what if someone more pliable to Trump’s demand to “find 11,780 votes” had been in Raffensperger’s post?
The predicament shows why no one person should get to decide who wins or which votes count — especially if that person has a stake in the outcome.
The WEC certainly has its flaws. It too often splits 3-3 along partisan lines on controversial decisions, leaving clerks at polling places without clear direction. The former state Government Accountability Board, led by retired judges, was a better model — one that Republicans wrongly dismantled in 2015.
Nonetheless, the bipartisan WEC is far better than having a partisan elected official serve as the referee of elections. Voters would seem to agree. They rejected last fall the GOP candidate for secretary of state, Amy Loudenbeck, who favored returning election powers to the office.
Godlewski’s limited duties are to authenticate some travel and business documents, and to sit on a state board that manages assets for school libraries.
By pretending she is somehow involved with elections, she’s only fueling further doubt about the integrity of Wisconsin’s vote. She needs to stop.