There is no better way to quickly buoy hard-pressed homeowners than helping them take advantage of the currently record low fixed mortgage rates and significantly reduce their monthly mortgage payments.
Investor demand for distressed property has been healthy, as rents rise to levels that can cover investors' costs while they wait for properties to appreciate. Giving investors a small tax break should further juice up demand, supporting prices for distressed homes and the market in general.
It is hard to be enthusiastic about the economy's prospects when house prices are falling: Households spend less, small business owners can't use homes as collateral for loans and local governments are forced to cut jobs and programs as property-tax revenue disappears.
The extension and expansion of the payroll tax holidays for workers would be number one on my list and key to avoiding recession.
The clearest way to cut some of this fiscal drag would be to extend the current payroll tax holiday and increase it - as proposed by President Barack Obama. This would cut the fiscal drag by almost half.
There is plenty of blame to go around for the U.S. housing bubble, but not much of it belongs to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two giant housing-finance institutions made many mistakes over the decades, some of them real whoppers, but causing house prices to soar and then crater during the past decade weren't among them.