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The so-called fiscal cliff of Jan. 2 is the deadline for tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 to expire and for automatic cuts in defense and nondefense spending to take effect -- unless Congress and the White House reach a deal.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich took to the floor of the House last month to warn against proposed austerity measures. The Cleveland Democrat said such spending cuts would repeat the mistakes of the Great Depression.
"Poor and middle-class Americans know all about the fiscal cliff," he said, because "they've been getting pushed off it for years."
Among examples he cited: "Fourteen million Americans' mortgages are greater than the value of their homes."
The recession officially ended more than three years ago. Are so many homeowners still "underwater" in their mortgages, even in an economic recovery from the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008? PolitiFact Ohio asked Kucinich's staff for more information.
They referred us to the Zillow online real estate database. Its Negative Equity Report, produced on a quarterly basis, shows the percent of homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.
According to the third quarter Zillow Negative Equity Report, issued last month, 28.2 percent of U.S. homeowners with a mortgage are under water, which is down from 30.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012.
The actual number of homeowners in negative equity, owing more than their homes are worth, declined about 1.3 million in the third quarter, to slightly more than 14 million.
The situation may be improving, but more than a quarter of homeowners with mortgages remain underwater.
On the Truth-O-Meter, Kucinich’s statement rates as True.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, "On the Fiscal Cliff," Nov. 27, 2012
Email with Kucinich spokesman, Dec. 12, 2012
Zillow, "The U.S. Housing Crisis: Where are home loans underwater," November 2012
AOL Real Estate, "More Underwater Homeowners Bail Themselves Out in 3rd Quarter," Nov. 19, 2012
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