Obama Defends Foreign Policy, Rolls Out New Housing Plan
When asked if they had conveniently scheduled the conference to make an indent in today’s Republican-consumed headlines, White House officials simply laughed it off as a coincidence.
The bulk of his message was directed toward foreign policy, wherein the president defended his decision to abstain from military intervention in Iran. He argued there is still a "window" for peaceful measures to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear armament, and took the opportunity to call out his GOP opponents. “I think those who are suggesting or proposing or beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be,” Obama said. “I’m not one of those people.”
The president upheld his position that the U.S. "has Israel’s back," but pointed to their sovereignty. “The argument that we've made to the Israelis is that we have made an unprecedented commitment to their security. There is an unbreakable bond between our two countries, but one of the functions of friends is to make sure that we provide honest and unvarnished advice in terms of what is the best approach to achieve a common goal—particularly one in which we have a stake,” he said.
“This is not just an issue of Israeli interest," Obama continued. "This is an issue of U.S. interests. It's also not just an issue of consequences for Israel if action is taken prematurely. There are consequences to the United States as well.”
In addition, Obama announced a new housing initiative that allows borrowers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration refinance at lower rates, awarding the typical borrower approximate savings of $1,000 a year. He also has a proposal in the works that would “give every responsible homeowner a chance to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage at historically low rates.”
The president declared his desire to plow ahead with or without congressional approval. “Now, if Congress refuses to act, I’ve said that I’ll continue to do everything in my power to act without them,” he stated.
But is Obama’s plan enough? “The problem is that [with] a lot of the problems they’re coming up with, especially in states like California, Arizona, Nevada, a lot of what they’re doing is just not enough. [It] sounds like a lot, but it just doesn’t seem like enough to help people out in the long term. In other states that are counter-cyclical, maybe that won’t be such a problem,” said Aaron Norris, a real estate investment expert and head of the Norris Group.
Another announcement was made regarding assistance to military members who have been forced to sell their homes for a smaller amount as a result of a permanent change in their station. They will be entitled to refunds if they were wrongfully denied the opportunity to reduce their mortgage payments through lower interest rates. Any military personnel wrongly foreclosed upon will also be compensated for lost equity, plus interest and $116,785.
“What would you like to say to Mr. Romney?” a reporter asked the president.
“Good luck tonight."
Reach Staff Reporter Michelle Toh here.