Kamala Harris backs rent control

Kamala Harris backs rent control
NBC News video

Senator Kamala Harris “enthusiastically endorses rent control,” even though it harms the housing market and reduces the amount of housing available, reports Reason Magazine:

Democratic presidential contender Kamala Harris shored up her progressive bona fides this weekend by endorsing Oregon’s first-in-the-nation statewide rent control policy, which became law last week.

“Earlier this week, [Oregon Gov. Kate Brown] made it easier for families to stay in their neighborhoods by enacting statewide rent control,” Harris tweeted. …”No one should ever have to choose between paying their rent each month or feeding their children,” the California senator added.

Oregon’s new law caps rent increases at 7 percent plus inflation per year, and it imposes new restrictions on landlords’ ability to kick out tenants.

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The law resembles the rent control system in San Francisco, where Harris was once district attorney. There, the price controls on rental properties resulted in exactly what most economists warn will happen: The supply of rental housing fell, and rents increased citywide.

Economists say rent controls are destructive. In a 1990 poll, 93% of them agreed that rent control “reduces the quantity and quality of housing available.” The economist Assar Lindbeck said that “next to bombing, rent control seems in many cases to be the most efficient technique so far known for destroying cities.”

Prior to Oregon’s new law, rent control had never before been imposed on a statewide basis in the U.S. But rent control has been tried many times before by local governments, always with negative results: The supply and quality of housing is always less with rent control than it would be without rent control.

To offset the fall in housing supply due to rent control, the government could spend taxpayer dollars to pay for publicly-financed housing. But it is unclear where Sen. Harris would get the massive amount of money to do that. 

That is especially true because Harris has already proposed spending so much taxpayer money on other things, that nothing might be left over for housing, even if taxes were increased substantially across the board. For example, Harris supports the Green New Deal, which researchers say may cost more than $90 trillion — four times the size of the entire U.S. economy, and four times the size of America’s national debt. She also supports reparations, which the New York Times says could cost “several trillion dollars,” and which could raise serious constitutional issues. Race-based reparations harmed the economy of other countries that tried it, such as Zimbabwe

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for CNS News and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”


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