A day after raising nearly $20 million for his re-election, President Obama visited foreclosure-ridden Nevada Friday and urged Congress to approve legislation that would help more struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages.
"Put the politics aside and the electioneering aside, and just do what's right for people," Mr. Obama implored lawmakers as he stood outside the Reno home of Paul and Val Keller, who refinanced their mortgage through a limited program put in place by the Obama administration.
The Kellers are saving about $240 per month on their loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Mr. Obama wants Congress to expand the program to eligible homeowners whose loans aren't backed by the government, but who are current on their payments. The plan is estimated to cost between $5 billion and $10 billion.
"We've got to have Congress move," Mr. Obama said. "There's absolutely no reason why they can't make this happen right now."
Republicans said Mr. Obama's repeated attempts at housing relief haven't worked.
"Nevada is probably the epicenter for the housing market crisis, but that's caused by having the country's largest unemployment rate," said Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki. "We're over 12 percent here. The president's policies are truly not doing things to help our economy here. You can modify a loan all day long, but if you don't have a job, you're not going to be able to afford your mortgage still."
Mr. Obama flew to Nevada from Los Angeles, where he played a game of pickup basketball with actor George Clooney and others. Thursday night, Mr. Clooney hosted a $15 million fundraiser for the president at his home in Studio City, where Hollywood glitterati paid $40,000 per person for a dinner catered by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.
At the dinner, Mr. Obama told supporters that his re-election campaign will be more difficult than his race four years ago.
"2008 in some ways was lightning in a bottle," Mr. Obama said. "That's not going to be replicated. And we shouldn't expect it to — I've been president for three and a half years."
He said the campaign will be harder in part because "folks are still hurting out there and those frustrations with Washington and the nonsense they see on the news is making them more cynical than they were in 2008."
"So we're going to have to fight against cynicism and a belief that maybe things can't happen and maybe the game is rigged, what's the point," Mr. Obama said. "That's what we're going to be fighting against this time."
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