How about a personal-debt bailout?by Tim Manni
The latest ill-considered idea to ‘help’ people has been withdrawn in the face of withering scorn. The city of Houston, Texas, briefly considered paying off some personal debts for first-time homebuyers:
Mayor Bill White yanked a controversial plan Tuesday that called for the city to use taxpayer funds to pay off some personal debts for first-time homebuyers, following a flood of outrage and criticism from across the city and beyond.
“I don’t think we ought to be in the business of paying off someone’s debt so they can buy a house,” White conceded during an impassioned City Council meeting. “Paying off people’s credit cards is ridiculous.”
Many council members expressed “embarrassment” over the idea, which received national media attention after the Chronicle wrote about it in Tuesday’s editions. The story appeared to strike a nerve among taxpayers already angry over the recession, the housing meltdown, and federal bailouts of banks and automobile companies.
“Everybody’s outraged about this,” said Councilman Ron Greene, adding that a constituent e-mailed him a copy of a bill and asked him to pay it. “This was not well reasoned.” …
Housing Director Richard S. Celli said that the plan would only have been able to help applicants pay off installment debt like student loans, and not revolving debts, such as credit cards.
“This program was never intended to pay off someone’s flat-screen plasma TV,” Celli said. “This program was intended for hardworking, credit worthy low- to moderate-income individuals who needed a helping hand in paying off some debt like a medical bill or a student loan.”
As might have been expected, Houston taxpayers, and media around the country, denounced the idea.