Cantor says Congress unlikely to get rid of mortgage interest deduction

Cantor was speaking to nearly 200 members of the Richmond Association of REALTORs. It was his second speech this week on economic issues.

“Before we start thinking about some other scheme that the government can do to help us, let’s get government to stop harming us,” Cantor said in response to a question from the audience about ways to increase purchases of distressed housing.

Much of Cantor’s address repeated his remarks earlier this week at Stanford University, where he called for the government to allow companies to repatriate income back to the U.S. at a reduced tax rate to stimulate the economy and discussed the need to cut regulations.

He also discussed the need to improve the housing market and suggested any GOP-led reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be done in a way that would not damage the real estate industry. The two government entities back more than 90 percent of the nation’s mortgages.

“Our goal is to create an environment for the private sector to engage in lending again, where the federal government has filled a void in the market through Fannie and Freddie and FHA,” Cantor said.

“We will work to eliminate the systemic risk that GSEs pose to our nation, but are committed to doing it in a way that does not jeopardize the prospects for a rebound in the real estate industry,” he continued. “We need smart regulations for mortgage applications that mitigate risk but do not close the doors to homeownership to responsible borrowers.”