The presidential election is still a year away, but the Obama administration is already sending a steady stream of officials to North Carolina, a key battleground state.
This week Neal Wolin, deputy secretary of the Department of the Treasury, was in Raleigh to attend the annual North Carolina Affordable Housing Conference. Wolin stopped by the News & Observer this afternoon to talk about the administration's economic proposals, including its efforts to assist struggling homeowners.
Wolin defended the administration's record in regards to foreclosure prevention and other attempts to quicken the housing market's recovery.
He said the administration's programs for loan modifications and refinancing, the first-time homebuyer tax credits, and efforts to make loan servicers operate more responsibly have made a difference.
"I think there's been an awful lot of good that have come from each of those programs and in the aggregate they've all made a real difference," Wolin said. "That said, obviously, we need to do more because there's still a lot of pain in our housing markets and a lot of people who are in need of help."
The administration recently updated its refinancing program in effort to make it eligible to more homeowners. Most economist believe the program, called Home Affordable Refinance Program, has underperformed, helping about 800,000 homeowners refinance instead of the more than $4 million expected.
"It's going to take some time to work through those issues," Wolin said of the country's housing problems.
Wolin also advocated for Congress to pass the measures included in Obama's jobs bill. He said things like payroll tax cuts, infrastructure spending and the modernizing of the country's schools didn't use to be so divisive.
"There's a whole range of these things that a year ago would not have been thought of as at all political," Wolin said.
"They would have been thought of as common sense things that members of Congress -- whatever your party, whatever your persuasion -- would have said this is the right thing. It's gotten a whole lot more complicated. It seems to us that at the end of the day Congress has a choice about whether it wants to address job creation or say its okay to grow at a slower rate than we could."
Just last week, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan was in Charlotte to promote Obama's $447 billion jobs bill and the changes to HAMP.