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Obama: Housing recovery is 'no accident'

President Obama bragged Thursday it was “no accident” that the housing market rebounded under his administration, saying his economic policies helped usher in a construction boom and the lowest foreclosure rate since 2006.

“We ended up helping millions stay in their homes; we ended up saving millions more thousands of dollars each year by refinancing,” Obama said in an address in Phoenix. He added that was “what happens when you have policies that put middle-class families first.”

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The president used the speech to announce that he was slashing the fees charged by the government to insure federally backed mortgages — a move the White House says could save 800,000 homeowners an average of $900 per year.

Obama said the action would “help even more responsible families stake their claim on the middle class and buy their first new home.”

"Buying a home has always been about more than owning a roof and four walls,” the president said. “It’s about investing savings and building a family.”

Republican lawmakers have decried the move, saying they remained concerned the government insurance program does not have a cushion if the housing market again stumbled.

“Instead of better protecting taxpayers from incurring losses through these government initiatives during a future economic downturn, the government is involved in a race to the bottom by reducing taxpayer protections to expand government credit guarantees,” Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCornyn: Relationships with Trump like 'women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse' Trump excoriates Sasse over leaked audio Has Congress captured Russia policy? MORE (R-Tenn.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic Bottom line MORE (R-La.) said in a letter to the administration on Thursday.

“We are deeply concerned about placing the taxpayer in jeopardy by underpricing these government-guaranteed loans.”

But with the White House having previewed that executive action a day earlier, the president’s speech sought mainly to capitalize politically off promising economic figures.

Obama said his New Year’s resolution was “to make sure more Americans in Phoenix and in Arizona and all across the country feel like they're coming back because the country's coming back.”

“I want everybody to feel like things are getting better and we are moving in the right direction,” Obama said. “And let there be no doubt, thanks to the steps we took early on to rescue our economy, to rebuild it on a new foundation, America is coming back.”

For the president, making that case is crucial to maintaining his relevance and his political capital over his final two years in office. His trip Thursday to Phoenix marked the midpoint of a three-city swing across the country, in which the president has been touting the recovery.

“These last six years required hard work and sacrifice by everybody,” Obama said. “But as a country, we have a right to be proud that all that hard work paid off. America's resurgence is real.”

The White House is also looking to argue that now is an opportunity to build on the success with some of the president’s policy proposals — and urge congressional Republicans to the bargaining table.

“If we all work together, we can make sure that the tide starts lifting all boats again,” Obama said. “We can get wages and incomes growing faster. We can make sure the middle class is growing.”