The House Ways and Means Committee yesterday heard a plea to spare tax exempt housing bonds.
Instead of the arcane discussions of monetary policy and efficiency factors that marked the first day of committee hearings on a proposal to kill the bonds, the talk yesterday was of the American dream of owning a home.
Ways and Means Chairman Al Ullman (D., Ore.), with the full support of the White House, has introduced a bill that would bar tax exemptions for all single family mortgage bond as of April 25.
The mayor of Moline, Ill., Lawrence W. Lorensen, expressed the sentiments of many in the room when he said, "We believe these (bond) programs serve a national as well as state and local purpose at this time and are a legitimate use of cities' bonding powers.
"We are especially concerned with the hundreds of families who had made plans to realize their dream of home ownership and whose expectations continued rising during the four months the city was preparing a program. To pull the rug out from these people at the last instant is both heartless and financially damaging to those families."
This populist viewpoint appeared to reach the political antennae of many Congressmen present.
Rep. Cecil Heftel (D. Hawaii) went after the spokesman for the U.S.league of Savings Associations who opposed the bonds on the grounds they are unfair, drive up the cost of housing and also take away business form private lenders. "Your motives are contrary to the interests of the people you are trying to serve," he declared.
Heftel has introduced a bill that he believes to be a middle ground between the administration's toatal ban on tax exempt bonds for single family housing and the current situation where wealthy home buyers are taking advantage of the subsidy.
Heftel's legislation would limit participation to those under 120 percent of median family income. In target areas of economic blight, such as central cities, the ceiling would rise to twice median income. The purchase price could not exceed three times that amount.
Rep. Fortney Stark (D. Calif.), in whose state tax exempt bonds are said to have been used to finance $165,000 condominiums, stated he did not understand the league's opposition to the use of the bonds for low income families.