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Why Corey Booker’s Housing Proposal Won’t Lower the Rent

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We need policy proposals that wed good intentions to sound economics.

By Dan Hugger                                                @fee.org

Democratic senators and presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have both recently proposed legislation to address the issue of rising housing costs. Senator Harris’s bill, “The Rent Relief Act,” and Senator Booker’s bill, “Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity Act,” both focus on assisting people who pay more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent or, in the case of Senator Harris’s bill, rent and utilities. The details of exactly who would be eligible to receive tax credits are different but include both those under as well as those well above the federal poverty level. Neither bill includes a cost estimate or stipulates a funding source.

Rising housing costs are certainly something we should be concerned about, particularly for those least able to afford them, so why object to subsidizing rents? The objection becomes clear when we recall Henry Hazlitt’s famous economics lesson:

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