Trump-Biden Debate: Key Points on U.S. Housing

Published by | June 28, 2024

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump faced off in their first presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle.

Millions of people tuned in to watch Trump and Biden’s in-person showdown on live TV, and despite the muted mics to prevent a chaos of crosstalk, both candidates managed to dish out plenty of insults and attacks on each other’s personal lives, golf games, and performance on the job leading the country.

While both candidates devoted time to hot-button topics from immigration to abortion to climate change, the topic of housing came up just two times in the debate. (We were counting.) Trump didn’t address it at all.

The lack of substantial discussion about housing is certainly not a surprise to® economist Ralph McLaughlin.

“Past debates between Biden and Trump showed that housing would not likely be a focal point,” he points out. “In the two 2020 presidential debates, housing discussion was limited to Biden’s plan to green and weatherize the U.S. stock. There was zero discussion of home prices, affordability, or rents in the context of housing in those two debates.”

Although housing wasn’t much of a focal point for this latest debate either, McLaughlin thinks this is a disservice to the country given the state of real estate today.

“There are still far too many households experiencing housing insecurity and distress in this country and far too little national discussion about it,” says McLaughlin, who was hoping for “more discussion about your house, and less about the White House.”

While housing did not garner much attention from the presidential candidates, it did seem to be a pressing topic for the moderators.

Right out of the gate, moderator Jake Tapper asked Biden, “Since you took office … typical home prices have jumped more than 30%. What do you say to voters who feel they are worse off under your presidency than they were under President Trump?”

Biden replied: “You’ve got to take a look at what I was left when I became president—what Mr. Trump left me. We had an economy that was in free fall. … The economy collapsed. There were no jobs. The unemployment rate rose to 15%. It was terrible.”

Biden then pointed out that, over the past four years, he has made strides to revive the economy and tamp down inflation, and that this will help curb the price of homes.

“We’re going to make sure we have reduced the price of housing,” Biden said, adding that adding more housing stock is the key. “We’re going to make sure we build 2 million new units. We’re going to make sure we cap rents so corporate greed can’t take over. The combination of what I was left with and corporate greed are the reason why we’re in this problem right now.”

While Trump’s rebuttal did not mention housing specifically, he did say, “Inflation is killing our country, it is actually killing us.”

When Biden mentioned building “2 million new units,” he was referring to the Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing program.

Earlier this week, the Biden-Harris administration awarded $85 million in grant funding to the PRO Housing program, which will help build millions of units of affordable housing in communities across the nation—ideally bringing down the cost of housing for renters and helping more Americans buy a home.

And on Monday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced another new program that will provide an additional $100 million over the next three years to support the financing of thousands of additional affordable housing units.

According to McLaughlin, these programs are welcome news to long-term observers of the U.S. housing market.

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