Howard Lays Out Housing Concerns to Business Execs
Participating in a Jan. 5 U.S. Chamber of Commerce roundtable discussion of the business and economic outlook for 2006, NAHB Executive Vice President and CEO Jerry Howard forecast another “solid year for housing” despite an expected 5%-10% decline in production, but warned that several issues on the regulatory and political fronts could be disruptive to the industry.
With land availability a pressing concern for home builders, he said that storm water, wetlands and the Endangered Species Act will be top priorities for NAHB in the coming year.
NAHB will continue to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to simplify the storm water and wetlands permitting process, improve compliance rates and modify current enforcement practices that are not needed to protect the environment. At the same time, NAHB will urge the Congress to direct the EPA to reform the federal storm water permitting system.
NAHB will also urge the Senate to approve an ESA reform bill similar to H.R. 3824, which passed the House in September, Howard indicated. The “Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act” would strengthen existing law by enhancing species conservation and protection efforts, eliminating excessive environmental regulation and giving private landowners incentives to enact voluntary conservation measures.
Builders will also urge the Administration to eliminate tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber and Mexican cement. Even before Hurricane Katrina, domestic producers were unable to meet demand for these essential building materials, he noted.
No matter how the tax reform debate initiated last fall by a presidential panel evolves in 2006, Howard said that NAHB remains committed to protecting the mortgage interest deduction and other tax incentives for single-family and multifamily housing.
Also at the top of NAHB’s agenda are congressional efforts to reform the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks. NAHB will work to ensure that any congressional effort to revamp their regulatory structure would preserve their vital housing mission while strengthening and safeguarding their financial health, he said.
“We will fight diligently to keep the flow of capital coming to the housing sector,” said Howard.
Others participating in the forum included Steve Bartlett, president and CEO, Financial Services Roundtable; Dennis Slater, president and secretary, Association of Equipment Manufacturers; and Thomas Kuhn, president and CEO, Edison Electric Institute.
In the keynote address, Treasury Secretary John Snow said that the Administration will fight to make all of the President’s tax cuts permanent in order to keep the economy moving forward and to continue spurring new job growth.
“Letting them expire would be a tax increase — there is simply no other way to put it. And tax increases would be bad for the economy, bad for every American who still needs a job or seeks a better job,” said Snow.
For more information, e-mail Michael Strauss at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8252.