POLITICS

GOP Debate Offers Few Solutions For Jobs, Housing Crisis

10/19/2011 12:01 am ET | Updated Dec 18, 2011

LAS VEGAS -- The Republican presidential debate Tuesday was hosted by the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation, beset by an ongoing foreclosure crisis, but the Nevada forum instead focused on attacking undocumented immigrants, repealing health care reform, slashing taxes and easing regulations.

The Las Vegas Sun, ahead of the debate, sought to remind the national press corps that there's a Las Vegas and a Nevada off the strip, and things aren't going so well there.

A few of the wrenching data points:

The city's unemployment rate is 14.2 percent. But that doesn't get to the heart of the economic misery, because many workers are still employed, but are making dramatically less money because of the nature of their compensation. A cabbie, waiter, or bellhop might work just as many hours, but with fewer fares and smaller tips.

Nearly 100,000 construction workers have been laid off, as projects across the city had their funding abruptly cut in the wake of the financial crisis. The toxic assets, many still living on banks' books at inflated values, sit withering in the sun, half finished, taunting the jobless.

One in every 39 housing units, over the course of the last three months, received notice that the foreclosure process was beginning.

In 2010, one-in-nine units received a foreclosure filing.

More than 80 percent of homes are underwater.

The foreclosure crisis barely came up during the debate, even in the wake of controversial comments Romney made to the Las Vegas Review-Journal during his Vegas trip. Romney was recently asked how he would ease the crisis.

"Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom," Romney said. "Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up."

The administration, Romney said, "has slow walked the foreclosure process ... that has long existed and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang." Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto sued Bank of America in August, accusing it of foreclosing on homes without proper authority.

Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom told HuffPost after the debate that Romney would soon be releasing a housing policy plan.

Michele Bachmann was the only person on stage to tackle the issue. "When you talk about housing and foreclosures, you're talking about women who are at the end of their rope because they're losing their homes." She added, in a departure, to the women in the audience: "President Obama has failed you on this issue."

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