A View From the Hill

These days Congress is running scared.

Jack_Kern croppedBy Jack Kern, Publisher and Research Editor, Multi-Housing News & Commercial Property Executive 

This is the first in a series of dispatches from the front. Each forecast will provide insights into what the balance of 2015 looks like, presented to you every few days.

A view from the hill

“They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side, but no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen.”
—Huey Long, campaign speech for the re-election of Senator Hattie Caraway (D-AR), 1932

It is tempting to write this in the Southern vernacular so popular during the days of wild-west politics. In many respects there are a lot of parallels today with how the business of the Congress was done in those heady days, when they really did call each other gentlemen, even though often they didn’t mean exactly that.

These days Congress is running scared. On the one hand you have the Hillary “What me worry?” Clinton show on the nightly news, and now we’re seeing recent Democratic challenger Martin O’Malley from Maryland making the rounds. To those of us who live in Maryland, former Governor O’Malley was famous for his frequent junkets to places having nothing to do with Maryland, and so the moniker  “Where’s Martin,” similar to “Where’s Waldo,” entered to folklore of state politics. So the nomination between Benghazi and the Ghost should be an interesting race. Between the two of them, judging from the legislative record, O’Malley would probably be the better choice because he didn’t accomplish a whole lot. So a president that can’t get anything done can’t harm anything either.

In this, the first installment of 10 Things You Can Count on in 2015, I started with politics because for the balance of this year, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac still on the hook, HUD and the Federal Housing Finance Agency mired in mired lots of new regulations it’s likely that CRE is probably safe for now. Everything is on the table, including nervous re-election campaigns for the members, changes to GSEs, the possible change in the carried interest rules, tax rates for the wealthier tax payers and environmental regulations sure to derail at least on project of yours. So let’s feel confident that CRE while still in the spotlight for revised legislation is at least closer to the extinct frog lobby (nobody messes with frogs) and on our way to a mostly positive year end.