DR. BERNSTEIN: The next question is on homeownership, from Heather from Ohio: “President Obama, what benefits from the stimulus plan are there to those of us who are paying our mortgages but living paycheck to paycheck?”
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I mentioned this in the opening remarks. This is something that I really want everybody to understand. Our housing plan — and we’re devoting $50 billion to it — has a number of different components. One component is setting up a mechanism where people who just can’t afford their mortgage right now are able to renegotiate with banks, and the banks lower their interest, and the homeowner assures that they’re going to make a commitment to pay a certain amount every month, and the government helps to step in to bridge the gap. But the point is, it’s going to be cheaper, not only for that family but also potentially for the entire community, if they stay in their home.
And so that’s — that part of the housing plan is targeted for folks who are really in distress. They’re getting close to the point where they might be losing their home.
But there are a whole bunch of folks out there who are not about to walk away from their home, but are getting killed right now because their home values have dropped drastically; they’re still making payments, but they’re in trouble. And for that huge set of responsible homeowners out there, I want people to understand what we’ve done is created mechanisms in the credit markets that have lowered mortgage rates down to historic levels, and what we’ve done is we’ve opened it up so that FHA loans that used to be only for people with a certain mortgage level, that we are using FHA and other mechanisms to open up refinancings to a whole bunch of homeowners who previously weren’t qualified.
So now what you’ve got is a situation where 40 percent of the people sitting here, 40 percent of the people who are participating in this virtual town hall, could potentially refinance their mortgage. And they’ve got to take advantage of that. We are providing additional support from the government in order to facilitate those refinancings. We’re starting to see refinancings go up significantly.
So you have the potential to cut your monthly payments, but you’ve got to take advantage of it. And if you need more information, you can go on our web site, whitehouse.gov, or you can contact your local bank and find out whether you qualify to participate in this refinancing.
DR. BERNSTEIN: Next we have a video question from Harriet in Georgia about bringing jobs back to America: “Hello, President Obama. Here is my question for your online town meeting. When can we expect that jobs that have been outsourced to other countries to come back and be made available to the unemployed workers here in the United States? Thank you so much for all your hard work. God bless you. Bye-bye.”