Long live subsidies!

February 19, 1991

Over the past 10 years no social program has suffered more from the Reagan philosophy of government than housing for the poor. Low-rent housing construction has all but come to a standstill, and various programs to assist low-income people to become homeowners -- such as the partnership plans advocated by James Rouse's Enterprise Foundation -- tend to get lip-service commitment but short-shrift action.

But let us not despair; housing subsidies have survived. Sunday's Sun carried a comprehensive tax guide with a table showing average federal income tax deductions as of the year 1988, the last year of the Reagan administration. Especially noteworthy was the average interest deduction claimed by individuals with incomes of more than $1 million a year. That average was given as $58,185, a deduction that would result in a tax refund of $16,292, based on the top marginal tax rate of 28 percent.

It's safe to assume that most if not all of that interest was paid on home mortgages -- reflecting a house that would cost somewhere in excess of half a million dollars.

So, among his other legacies, Reagan gave us a new definition of subsidized housing: Subsidized mansions for millionaires.

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