The nation’s capital is quickly shutting down, now that forecasters are calling for one to two feet of snow overnight. Local authorities warn residents to prepare to “shelter in place” for three days.

Expect housing-minded Washingtonians to be hunkered down in their homes this weekend huddled around the fire reading the Obama Administration’s proposal for the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Oh wait, that long-awaited plan didn’t materialize this week. (READ MORE)

Already some folks are taking shots at the Administration for not coming through with new ideas as promised for how to deal with the two housing GSEs.  But is that fair?

Frankly, a reengineering of the secondary market is going to take some serious time. And brains. It’ll require some of the brightest minds in finance and public policy to figure out how to keep the liquidity Fannie and Freddie provide while losing the inherently harmful incentives of the old regime.  The trouble is that most of the officials responsible for crafting a solution are the very same ones working overtime helping to keep the current housing market afloat amidst a very fragile economy.

So our one message to Washington’s housing policymakers: take your time and get it right. Too much is at stake, for the millions of Americans whose futures rely on a strong housing finance system.

OK, allow us to give officials one more message, as we sip our hot cocoa and ponder things:  tell the American housing story better.

Housing’s image certainly is as battered as it’s ever been. Responsibility for this last recession is rightfully borne by a mortgage market on steroids that was too often lacking in common sense. Thankfully most of us have done our penance and confessed our sins over the past two years. It’s time to begin having the pride and courage to begin again reminding others of the fundamental value of housing to the economy and the democracy. 

Putting good housing policy at the top of the nation’s agenda will do as much as any grand securitization scheme to rebuild global investors’ interest in the U.S. housing market.  Private capital will return when investors are confident that the U.S. government means what is says in promoting affordable housing and building the foundation for sustainable homeownership.

It’s time to move on. The President and Congress alike should ease away from the blame game.  When global investors ran for the hills, it wasn’t because of sophisticated analysis. They just didn’t like the headlines they were catching in the Financial Times and on CNBC.  Washington should keep that in mind when it chooses between the pseudo-populism of bank bashing versus a positive message for a new American Dream.

The latter isn’t just flag-waving, as some often cynically assume. Everyone in America strives to live in safe, decent and affordable housing. Our leaders need to tap into that basic desire of Americans by speaking optimistically about the future of a housing system that will be fair and accessible for everyone. Or at least those who have done their own due diligence and are financially prepared for the largest investment of their life.

Tell that story, while of course developing new, tangible plans that deliver on the promise.  Keeping the dream alive is as important to building confidence, as are technical proposals for structural change.