The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) launched an effort to make housing a centerpiece of the massive economic stimulus package that lawmakers are expected to complete by mid-February. More than 80 builders converged on Capitol Hill this January to meet with congressional leaders and key members of the banking and tax writing committees to convey the message that a housing stimulus is urgently needed and that restoring demand for housing is the fastest and most effective way of reviving the economy.

The key ingredients to the recovery plan call for Congress to support enhancements to the home buyer tax credit, to provide below-market interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, and to continue foreclosure prevention measures such as those advocated by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman Sheila Bair. This year alone, NAHB chief economist David Crowe says the plan would result in 200,000 additional new home sales, 1 million more existing home sales, and a boost in expected housing starts from 649,000 to 908,000, on par with last year's level. In addition, the plan this year would create more than 539,000 jobs, generating $26 billion in wages and salaries, $21 billion in business income, and $28 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues.

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