A significant number of commentators have posited that the 2020 election will be won or lost in the suburbs. For some reason, these suburban voters seem to be signaling that they want Joe Biden to take their guns away, raise their taxes, and cause massive job losses in industries related to oil and gas. Or perhaps they are super excited about having a cognitively impaired leader of the free world. Hard to tell.
However, my bet is if they figured out Joe Biden was planning on destroying their communities, they might be a little more attuned to their self-interest. Joe Biden has signed on to a plan that will take local control away from community planning using federal funding as leverage.
Stanley Kurtz at National Review is ringing the alarm bell. An Obama-era regulation that has not been rolled back by the Trump administration is about to weaponized in a significant way if Democrats gain power. The regulation could lead to such considerable wealth redistribution, Kurtz wrote an entire book about it.
Recall, if Democrats take control of the Senate, they intend to end the filibuster. If they maintain control of the House and Biden wins the presidency, there will be no way for Republicans to stop this power grab. It will necessarily put all community planning in the hands of the federal government. They, not the local city councils and county officials, will determine the zoning laws that govern suburban communities to achieve their progressive vision of equity and environmental policies.
I’ve been studying Joe Biden’s housing plans, and what I’ve seen is both surprising and frightening. I expected that a President Biden would enforce the Obama administration’s radical AFFH (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) regulation to the hilt. That is exactly what Biden promises to do. By itself, that would be more than enough to end America’s suburbs as we’ve known them, as I’ve explained repeatedly here at NRO.
What surprises me is that Biden has actually promised to go much further than AFFH. Biden has embraced Cory Booker’s strategy for ending single-family zoning in the suburbs and creating what you might call “little downtowns” in the suburbs. Combine the Obama-Biden administration’s radical AFFH regulation with Booker’s new strategy, and I don’t see how the suburbs can retain their ability to govern themselves. It will mean the end of local control, the end of a style of living that many people prefer to the city, and therefore the end of meaningful choice in how Americans can live. Shouldn’t voters know that this is what’s at stake in the election?
The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation, AFFH for short, is like Affirmative Action for community planning. According to Kurtz, there are three elements to the strategy that effectively integrate the suburbs with their urban neighbors:
- Use a kind of quota system to force “economic integration” on the suburbs, pushing urban residents outside of the city
- Close down suburban growth by regulating development, restricting automobile use, and limiting highway growth and repair, thus forcing would-be suburbanites back to the city
- Use state and federal laws to force suburbs to redistribute tax revenue to poorer cities in their greater metropolitan region
Initially, the AFFH used HUD grants to bring suburban communities into compliance. Local communities could make a decision not to pursue these grants and retain local control of zoning. However, Biden has signed on to a plan that goes even further to enforce this vision. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has proposed withholding federal transportation grants communities use to repair highways. This funding would be nearly impossible for communities to forego.
This policy position is stunning in the wake of a pandemic that has Americans questioning urban living. The real estate site Suburban Jungle saw a four-fold increase in traffic during the pandemic when cities were hardest hit. The impact of rioting and escalating violence is yet to be seen.
Cities that stayed shut down longer than outlying areas are also running into financial problems due to lost revenue. Now businesses large and small may not recover from the looting and destruction of the recent riots. Some of them are relocating out of destroyed downtown areas or will not reopen.
On its face, this policy, with the enhancement proposed by Booker, shreds several levels of the federalist system. Residents will lose all control over the design of their communities. Some of the most heated debates in city councils across the country are related to zoning. What is built where is a big deal for may communities. AFFH will end that debate.
Of course, suburban voters should know the intentions and outcomes of these policies. There is no way the corporate media is going to tell them. Kurtz told us why in an article from 2015:
It’s difficult to say what’s more striking about President Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation: its breathtaking radicalism, the refusal of the press to cover it, or its potential political ramifications. The danger AFFH poses to Democrats explains why the press barely mentions it. This lack of curiosity, in turn, explains why the revolutionary nature of the rule has not been properly understood. Ultimately, the regulation amounts to back-door annexation, a way of turning America’s suburbs into tributaries of nearby cities.
As noted, the impact of this radically progressive policy would put the suburban vote at risk for Democrats. This reaction is why the Trump campaign must make the housing policy a big issue in the next few months. President Trump needs to direct HUD Secretary Ben Carson to gut the AFFH immediately and remove any federal leverage over zoning that still exists.
Discrimination in housing is already illegal as it should be. Americans should have a wide range of choices about the type of communities they live in. The utopian idea that the federal government can create “fair” or “equitable” communities is utter garbage. President Trump and Republicans need to say this clearly and often.
Educate your neighbors in outlying areas. It is imperative those in affected communities understand the control they will be giving up over the small towns and suburbs where they live.