As many of you may have surmised by now, my politics more often than not lean a bit toward the right.
But being a lifelong member of the GOP doesn’t mean that I avoid recycling (FYI: I’ve recycled diligently since 1987), or that I drive a 400 horsepower gas guzzler (mine is a 4-cyclinder Honda Accord) or that I want to sacrifice open space in favor of a strip mall or some opulent house with an absurd floor area ratio.
In fact my outspokenness — both verbal and written — about the proliferation of “McMansions” in my town resulted in a seven-month wait for our own building permit when we wanted to enlarge our kitchen. For those who are interested, the average wait is closer to five weeks.
By coincidence, recent proposals by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., touches on several of the above-mentioned issues, specifically to mandate stiff taxes on gasoline and end the mortgage tax deduction on homes greater than 3,000 square feet.
Dingell, who serves as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, contends that the proposals — designed to discourage what he termed an “over-consumption” of fuel — would help reduce carbon emissions by some 60 percent to 80 percent by the year 2050.
Maybe, maybe not.
I point out that those suburbanites who drive SUVs and Hummers the size of the Spruce Goose didn’t immediately sentence them to the garage in favor of hybrid vehicles when gasoline prices were creeping toward $3.50 a gallon.
I imagine that lobbyists from the likes of Exxon would have something to say about it as well. It’s a safe bet that the public won’t view them in quite the same way as a hefty tax on cigarettes.
Not surprisingly, the National Association of Realtors reacted to the lawmaker’s proposal like an Italian chef forced to use jarred sauce, contending that eliminating the mortgage deduction would reduce housing prices an average of 4 percent for all homes and not just for the McMansions.
Here again, it’s a mixed bag.
While 30 years ago, 3,000 square foot homes were viewed as something on the order of Hearst Castle, today, they’re more common than tattoos in a longshoreman’s union.
The NAR also pointed out that many new homes are more “green” than those built in the past and placing the onus solely on square footage bypasses any steps the homeowner has taken on that front.
Dingell may sort of be heading in the right direction with his proposals but ironically, like crude oil to gasoline, they will require a ton of refining before they’re ready to be sold to the public.
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