By Jeff Louderback
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that if elected president, he would create a 3 percent mortgage for Americans guaranteed by the government and funded by the sale of tax-free bonds, and he would work to make it less profitable for large corporations to own single-family homes in the United States.
“If you have a rich uncle who co-signs your mortgage, you will get a lower interest rate because the bank looks at his credit rating. I’m going to give everyone a rich uncle, and his name is Uncle Sam,” Mr. Kennedy said at a recent town hall in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Mr. Kennedy added that the first 500,000 of those 3 percent mortgages would be reserved for teachers.
Since entering the 2024 presidential race and announcing he would challenge President Joe Biden for the Democrat party nomination, Mr. Kennedy has promoted a platform centered on “healing the divide” and “restoring the middle class.”
He recently traveled around South Carolina talking to voters about his ideas.
“Both President Trump and President Biden are running on platforms that they’ve brought prosperity to this country. But when I travel around South Carolina and other states, I’m not seeing that,” Mr. Kennedy told an audience in Charleston. “I’m seeing people who are living at a level of desperation that I have not seen in this country ever.”
Soaring Costs and Debt
Mr. Kennedy chastised the Biden administration, noting that the country has seen higher food prices, credit card debt, and energy costs, as well as an affordable housing crisis.
“In the last two years, the price of housing has gone from $250,000 average to $400,000. Interest rates have gone up 20 percent, and we don’t need to have that happen,” Mr. Kennedy said. “There are ways that the federal government can help people without driving up the debt.”
Making it easier for Americans to buy single-family homes without competing against institutional investors is a priority, Mr. Kennedy said.
A Wall Street Journal report in 2021 showed that 200 corporations were aggressively buying tens of thousands of single-family houses, including entire neighborhoods, and significantly increasing rental prices.
Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonpartisan research organization based in Philadelphia, reported that investors purchased 24 percent of the single-family homes bought in 2021. In 2022, the number climbed to 28 percent of single-family home purchases, according to the organization.
A MetLife Financial Management study contends that institutional investors could own up to 40 percent of single-family homes by 2030.
“Americans are being shut out of the American dream,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Mr. Kennedy calls the issue a “crisis,” and directed blame on companies like BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard.
A 2017 academic paper published by Cambridge University Press reported that the three firms constitute the largest shareholder in 88 percent of S&P 500 firms.
“And now they have a new target, which is to gain ownership of all the single-family residences in this country. And they are on a trajectory to do that,” Mr. Kennedy told an audience in Greenville, South Carolina.
“Usually, when a company buys a home with a cash offer, there is an LLC with an ambiguous name. It often can be traced back to one of those big companies,” Mr. Kennedy explained.
Mr. Kennedy added that Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, is a World Economic Forum board member.
“The WEF is a billionaire boys club that meets in Davos every year and has a plan, which is New World Order and what they have called the Great Reset,” Mr. Kennedy noted. “Klaus Schwab, who wrote the book on that agenda, says that you will own nothing and you will be happy. They are well on their way to accomplishing that first part.”
Corporate Investments in Ohio
Earlier this year, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced legislation called the “Stop Predatory Investing Act” that would ban federal tax breaks on interest and depreciation for corporations that own 50 or more single-family rental homes. If passed, the bill would make it less profitable for large investment companies to buy so many homes.
In Cleveland, Mr. Brown said, institutional investors own 70 percent of homes in one zip code.
The same problem exists in neighborhoods like Cincinnati’s East Price Hill, Mr. Brown remarked.
“In 2021, the last year we have complete data at this point, investors bought 15 percent of homes, and nearly 50 percent of homes in some communities like Price Hill,” Mr. Brown told reporters. “It drives up prices and makes it harder for relatively low-income families. That’s where they prey on people.”
Another presidential candidate agrees with Mr. Kennedy’s assessment of BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard
Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who has emerged as one of the main challengers behind former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, wrote on social media that BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard represent “arguably the most powerful cartel in human history.”
“They’re the largest shareholders of nearly every major public company (even of each other),” Mr. Ramaswamy posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
“And they use your own money to foist ESG agendas onto corporate boards—voting for ‘racial equity audits’ & ‘Scope 3 emissions caps’ that don’t advance your best financial interests. This raises serious fiduciary, antitrust, and conflict-of-interest concerns.”
Mr. Kennedy, who is scheduled to speak at a town hall in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on Aug. 30, criticized Mr. Ramaswamy and the other seven Republicans who were on stage at the party’s first 2024 presidential debate in Milwaukee on Aug. 23.
“The Republican debate last night was out of sync with the mood of the country,” Mr. Kennedy said in a statement, pointing out that the candidates “said nothing about the desperation and hardship working people face in this country. They said nothing about wages, housing costs, food costs, child care costs, and medical costs, or what we can do about it. They said nothing about the systemic corruption that enriches corporations and the elites as swaths of the former middle class fall into poverty.”
“Our nation deserves better than posturing and bickering masquerading as debate. Instead of arguing, we can tap into the swelling popular will to turn this country around,” Mr. Kennedy added.
At every stop in South Carolina, Mr. Kennedy said that one of his first priorities as president would be to change the tax code so that “it will be less profitable for large corporations to own single-family homes.”
During his address in Brooklyn, just as he did in South Carolina, Mr. Kennedy is expected to talk about the economic challenges facing American families, and his plan to address those issues.
Curbing credit card debt is another way to help more Americans achieve home ownership and become more financially comfortable.
“Many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The average income in this country is $5,000 less than the average cost of living. What that means is people have to make up the difference by putting those expenses on credit cards,” Mr. Kennedy told a crowd in Richmond, Virginia.
“We recently reached a milestone in this country with more than $1 trillion in personal credit card debt,” Mr. Kennedy said, adding that many creditors are charging interest rates of 22 percent and higher. “If it was the mafia, it would be loan sharking and they would go to jail, but for banks and credit card companies, it is considered the cost of doing business.”
Before concluding his remarks about credit card debt, Mr. Kennedy asked the audience a question.
“Who do you think owns many of those companies? BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard,” he said. “They are strip mining the wealth of the American public, and their political clout allows them to do that, which is why I’m going to make it less profitable for large corporations to own single-family homes.”