The challenges and future of transportation in Arizona, including the expanded light rail and Interstate 11 between Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Obama Visits Phoenix, Lays Out Housing Plan
President Obama continues his national tour touting the components of his economic recovery plan. He was here in the Valley Tuesday to discuss the country’s recovering housing market. The biggest news came when Mr. Obama announced plans to close government-backed lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But the President also unveiled a plan to bolster home ownership.
Mr. Obama described his steps for averting another foreclosure crisis to an enthusiastic crowd at Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee. The plan calls for allowing current homeowners to refinance at today’s mortgage rates and getting more qualified first-time buyers into the housing market. Mr. Obama also called for Congress to pass immigration reform, improvement of current housing stock and investment in rental properties. The President says he’s eager to create a stable, steady housing market.
“And that’s why I want to lay a rock-solid foundation to make sure the kind of crisis we went through doesn’t happen again,” he said, as the crowd applauded. “We’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
But Mr. Obama stressed he can’t create that foundation alone. Throughout the speech, he said he needed Congress to pass reforms – and asked the audience to pressure their legislators to help him. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton echoed this call for action. He said too often presidential ideas are dead on arrival in Congress these days.
“We can’t operate as a country that way. We have to get back to compromise as a strength, not a weakness,” Stanton said. “And I think that was the point the president was making.”
But there were several points the president was not making, to the chagrin of dozens of protesters clustered at an intersection outside the school. On one side of the street, environmentalists urged Mr. Obama not to support the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. On the other side of the street, immigration activists chanted for the President to stem the increase of deportations during his presidency. Carlos Garcia is with the immigrant rights group Puente.
“Immigration reform starts with President Obama stopping the deportations,” Garcia said, outside the gym. “That is what we are here to tell him today.”
Mr. Obama also faced criticism from Governor Brewer. She gave the president a handshake when he landed – and Tweeted that their meeting was “positive.”
But after the president’s speech, Brewer said she was disappointed in what she called Obama’s “big government” plans. She also said the president was trying to share credit for Arizona’s housing market recovery. Instead, she said, “President Obama should learn from our example.”
All told, the President was on the ground in the Valley for about two and a half hours.