Eating Away at the McMansion

Burger_copy_2So it’s not two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce and cheese, but it’s still a freakin’ big burger!  Wonder what the number of recommended servings would be?  Nevertheless, I’d venture to say that it’s excessive in a number of ways.

Ever wondered why we do the same thing with our homes?  The popular term is McMansion, but you might have also heard it called a parachute home, a Starter Castle, or my personal favorite, the Garage Mahal.  Fleischer
Love that one.  Whatever you call it, housing consumers seem to be split on whether they love ’em or hate ’em.  Typically considered anything over 3000 square feet, McMansions across the country have one thing in common across the board … they’re big.  Very big.  And a Congressman now says he’s going to draft a bill to try and curb their deflation of America’s collective wallets (sorry, was trying to go with some kind of clever word play there, but just couldn’t find the right combination).

Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says he’s going to draft a "carbon tax" bill, proposing a cutoff of mortgage-interest tax deductions for any house with more than 3000 square feet.

McMansion, have you met the Low Fat Menu?

Rep. Dingell says that the bill will seek to "remove the mortgage interest deduction on McMansions – homes over 3000 square feet.", and believes that such a change will help to achieve the environmental goal of reducing carbon emissions by 60-80% by the year 2050.  The idea is to make consumption more expensive, thereby homeowners are more likely to find other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through changes in heating and cooling cycles, electrical usage and building materials. 

Surprise surprise – homebuilders don’t think it’ll work.  Bill Killmer, policy advocate for the Rubbish_lowcase_2National Association of Home Builders, says that consumer behavior needs to be addressed.  Rubbish.
Consumers aren’t likely to
lessen their usage, as our "must-haves" now come with more and more cords, larger and larger usage numbers, and bigger and bigger fuel tanks.  I think what he’s trying to say is that the systems in the house need to be more efficient, but I’d bet manufacturers of those systems are going to pass the increased production costs on to consumers.  Where’s the balance?   

I don’t know where the middle ground here is … it’s no surprise that the benefits of the mortgage interest deduction is in favor of those taxpayers with larger-than-average mortgages, which are often owned by higher-income taxpayers, and a larger-than-average mortgage in many cases could be traced back to a nice big McMansion.  I’d bet those same taxpayers wouldn’t be real happy with the elimination of what amounts to more than $100 billion in mortgage deductions a year between 2006-2010.  I’m happy to see it being discussed, but the cynic in me says that those taxpayers who make the law aren’t going to vote for something that’s going to hit them in their own wallets.  But that might just be me. 

Thanks to Reader Jane for forwarding the link.  You can read Kenneth Harney’s whole article here.

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