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A Cut-off of the Mortgage Interest Deduction for Big Houses?

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An influential committee leader in the House of Representatives is planning a post-summer surprise for millions of Americans whose houses contain 3,000 square feet or more of interior space: A proposal to take away their mortgage interest deductions.

Calling homes of that size ‘McMansions,’ Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), the 15-term veteran at the helm of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is now drafting ‘carbon tax’ legislation that would deny owners their mortgage writeoffs.

Though details of the proposal won’t be available until the draft is completed next month, say aides, the bill is expected to also call for higher federal gasoline taxes and a variety of other provisions designed to discourage carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The goal, said Dingell in talking points prepared for town hall meetings in Michigan, is to reduce total carbon emissions into the atmosphere in the U.S. by 60 to 80 percent by the year 2050.

Big houses, say environmental critics, consume outsized amounts of energy for electricity, heating, air conditioning, and construction materials. Subdivisions of new houses also contribute to so-called greenhouse emissions by stimulating far-flung subdivions, urban sprawl, long commute times, and traffic congestion. In his talking points, Dingell said his forthcoming legislative proposals will ‘impose a stiff tax on carbon, increase the tax on gasoline, and remove the mortgage interest deduction on ‘McMansions,’ — homes over 3,000 square feet.’

‘In order to address the issues of climate change,’ according to Dingell, ‘we must address the issue of consumption — we do that by making consumption more expensive.’

Dingell’s plans aren’t going over well among real estate and housing groups. Bill Killmer, an advocacy official for the National Association of Home Builders, said his group takes ‘any proposal by Chairman Dingell seriously because of his impressive record of legislative accomplishments’ over the past three decades. However, penalizing square footage’