It’s not that news reports stressing the winners and losers of the plan are out of place; in fact, they fit right into the picture of housing aid that the administration is painting. But, as Leonhardt wrote in an excellent piece in Wednesday’s Times, Obama’s plan addresses two groups of homeowners—those that can’t afford their mortgages and have fallen behind on payments, and those that are making their payments but whose houses are worth less than the payment owed on their mortgages (and are “underwater”). And in that mix, as Leonhardt later blogged, “people who bought too much house — and banks that allowed people to do so, or even encouraged them to do so — will also benefit.” So while there’s good reason to frame this as a rescue for responsible homeowners, it’s important to remember that that rhetoric at least in part stems from political expediency.
This isn’t to say that words like irresponsible or unscrupulous aren’t relevant descriptives. But when our commander-in-chief is a remarkable salesman, we should take care not to retell his narrative by rote.