Campaigning in Las Vegas, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Friday gave President Barack Obama an "F" on the economy and proposed a five-point plan to revive the housing market in hard-hit Nevada on the day the unemployment rate ticked up to 12.1 percent.
"We have to reignite the housing economy here so home values will start going up again," Romney said at a rally before more than 3,000 cheering supporters, a capacity crowd packed inside the Cox Pavilion on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.
Romney said he would reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to protect taxpayers from more risk and to provide a long-term, sustainable future for housing finance.
He also said he wanted the government to sell the more than 200,000 vacant, foreclosed homes it owns in neighborhoods where values have dropped as houses have emptied and fallen into disrepair.
"I'll make sure we have them sold so we'll have those homes occupied," Romney said.
The other three measures laid out in his new housing plan would:
Make it easier for homeowners facing foreclosure to conduct short sales, deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure and other options. No details were provided.
Replace the Dodd-Frank Act with "sensible regulation" that could make it easier for banks to approve mortgage loans to families with good credit.
Improve the job market, which Romney called "the best way to help the housing market" by getting people back to work and raising incomes.
Romney said the Dodd-Frank law, which drew boos from the audience, makes it harder for people to get home loans because it requires banks to give out only "qualified" mortgages or face penalties. But he said the "qualified" term isn't defined, making banks stingy and unwilling to give out new loans.
"Bankers don't know if they're going to get in trouble," Romney said. "I will get credit flowing to people who are qualified so we can start moving more homes and raise values."
Romney's visit coincided with a new Nevada jobs report that showed the unemployment rate ticking up to 12.1 percent statewide, the highest in the nation. The report said 165,900 Nevadans are looking for work, which gave Romney fresh fodder to argue that he could do a better job of leading the nation out of the recession.
"We have a president who says he can't fix Washington," Romney said. "I can. I will lead. I will get the job done."
The former Massachusetts governor's visit drew a slap from U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who attacked Romney for seeming to dismiss 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income tax, saying they wouldn't vote for him. The videotaped remarks made in May during a private fundraiser leaked this week.
"I take offense to him coming here and thinking the people of Nevada are clueless as to what he has talked about," Reid said in a telephone conference call with reporters arranged by the Obama campaign.
The 47 percent include the "valiant airmen" at Creech Air Force Base, senior citizens and those without jobs, Reid said, adding it was "rich" that Romney would complain about people not paying taxes when he won't make public his filings from years past as other presidential candidates have done.
On Friday, Romney released his 2011 return with a summary of his tax liability for a 20-year period from 1990 to 2009. He previously
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