Obama: Better Late

The president introduced a new plan on how to help middle class homeowners on their mortgages during his State of the Union address. But no one knows what the proposal is.

Administration officials declined on Tuesday to outline the mechanics or costs of the program, and they said those details would be spelled out in the legislation in the coming days. "Responsible homeowners shouldn't have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief," Mr. Obama said. "

It's unclear whether such a measure would win bipartisan support, but the bill could prove a shrewd bet during an election year to put pressure on Republicans who remain wary of further government intervention in housing markets.

"The administration is somewhat liberated from the details or the consequences of what it proposes, knowing that a Republican House can be relied upon to kill a bad or overly complex idea," said Jeb Mason, a policy adviser in the Treasury Department during the George W. Bush administration.

As usual, the president's approach is focused on good politics, not good policy.