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Boardroom view.

This year there are about as many opinions on what the critical issues will be for the voters, as there are political professionals working in Washington, D.C.

Will it be the "leadership thing" or "trust" or the broken tax pledge or the deficit, or will it be some second-tier issue, or even some completely contrived issue lurking in the wings like a Willie Horton ad waiting to happen? But what will it be that turns in the minds of the voters as they punch in their choice for the next resident of the White House?

Of course all that anyone can do at this point is speculate, but even so it might be worth a try. So we turned to a few working political insiders who follow the politics of housing to get their thoughts on critical issues that likely will get plenty of air time and a few that might not.

And we were told, for example, that the thrift crisis and the cleanup price tag will be a big issue that the Democrats will hammer home. But then we also heard that this issue is "yesterday's news" and the voter is tired of hearing about it.

Nevertheless, we heard New York Governor Mario Cuomo launch the first shot across the Bush administration's bow on the thrift bailout fiasco at the Democratic convention. But Mike Ferrell, legislative counsel with the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA), said he does not think the S&L bailout will be much of an issue for voters in the presidential race. Ferrell said, "I think that is becoming old news very quickly. We see that, just in the absence of |congressional~ members waving that issue around when discussing issues like the FHA reforms. We don't hear the battle cry of 'This is another S&L crisis' as loudly or emotionally as we did a couple of years ago.

On the issue of funding the RTC and just how much the thrift bailout costs have added to the already huge deficit, Ferrell again estimates this level of detail will most likely not grab the attention of the average voter. But he says they are worried about the budget deficit in a way that hits very close to home. On the issue of the failure of Congress to refund the RTC, which is adding more to the cost of the bailout with every passing day, Ferrell says, "I think that's more insider politics than anything else. If you called your family, I don't think they would probably be asking 'Gee when are they going to pass that RTC bill? I'm really worried about that.' You don't hear that groundswell of public demand to pass the RTC bill. They don't know what it means and what it's for. It's yesterday's news for the most part."

Ferrell adds that even though the RTC funding is a "significant part" of the budget deficit currently, the federal deficit in the aggregate--the uncut version--is "the thing that dominates the news." Ferrell's view is that, "No one can understand the budget deficit. They just know and have been led to believe that it's a serious problem that needs to be addressed. But I don't think they compartmentalize the issue and say, 'You know, if we got that S&L problem solved, that would reduce our budget deficit by X.' I don't think they view it that way. I think those budget deficit issues are reduced to: 'Do I have a job? Can I provide for my family with a decent house and put groceries on the table?' That sort of thing."

But the overwhelming sense of the deficit has bred a new sense of financial pragmatism in the minds of the voter. Director of MBA's political action committee, Mark Bolduc puts it this way: "The race will be won on what they say to please the people and |whether~ they have some realistic way of paying for it. They can promise the moon, but Joe Sixpack is not going to believe they can deliver the moon."

Bolduc predicts that the turnover in the Congress will be "huge." He adds that there will be no "coattail effect" of popular presidential candidates helping bring out the vote for Members of Congress. Instead, it will be the opposite--popular local candidates helping to bring more voters to the polls for their party's presidential hopeful.

Bolduc sees "at least 130 new members" in the House, out of 435. He has heard a prediction of as many as 200 new members in the House. The net result could be a "mandate to disrupt things," Bolduc says. Because of this, he says, "I predict it will be a year and a half before they accomplish anything." The House controls all federal spending, Bolduc notes, so the power that body has to slow down the government is real.

The last big class of freshmen lawmakers to come in was the so-called "Watergate class" of about 50 new members, Bolduc says. And that group tended to be graduates of state legislatures. But this time it's a much more motley crew and Bolduc notes it takes time to learn the rules and etiquette of the committees of the House. Bolduc says the bottom line is: "The whole system will be tested."
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:public opinion on what are the critical issues for voters in the 1992 presidential elections
Author:Hewitt, Janet Reilley
Publication:Mortgage Banking
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Previous Article:Welcome to the 21st century.
Next Article:Notes from an election year.

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