July 27, 2020

Saving Our Suburbs From Demo Regulation

Donald Trump does away with yet another meddlesome Barack Obama-era rule.

The Trump administration officially deep-sixed a secretive Obama-era scheme on Friday. That’s more good news for all Americans who appreciate the fundamental right of freedom to associate.

As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson declared, “President Donald Trump and I agree that the best run communities are the ones run locally. Today, we are tearing down the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which was an overreach of unelected Washington bureaucrats into local communities.”

Carson then hit the nail on the head: “The AFFH rule was a ruse for social engineering under the guise of desegregation, essentially turning HUD into a national zoning board.”

It’s no secret that the Left is fond of social engineering, and the AFFH was just that. “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing would radically undercut the political and economic independence of the suburbs,” says Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “It would allow bureaucrats in Washington in the Department of Housing and Urban Development to control zoning laws, to control the placement of transportation and business districts, even to some degree the drawing of school districts. In other words, almost every important local governmental responsibility could, under AFFH, fall into the de facto control of the feds.”

Kurtz has been following AFFH for a few years now, and he notes that it grew out of a perversion of an important piece of civil rights legislation from the ‘60s. “The Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968,” he wrote in 2016, “was a great achievement, rightly prohibiting discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. President Obama claims that his wildly overreaching Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation … is simply fulfilling the purposes of the original Fair Housing Act. That is nonsense. It’s also a classic case of left-leaning politicians achieving their ends by reading radically new meanings into well-established laws.”

As Paul Mirengoff at Power Line writes, the AFFH “enables the federal government to order more than 1,200 cities and counties that accept any part of annual community development block grants to rezone neighborhoods along income and racial criteria. It thus allows unaccountable federal bureaucrats to dictate who lives where, in order to create racially and economically balanced neighborhoods. It effectively abolishes self-government in the suburbs.”

In addition to weaponizing those vital block grants, Kurtz notes that the Democrats have an even more potent means of coercion, thanks to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker: withholding federal transportation grants for repairing highways — funding that communities simply can’t pass up.

The AFFH sounds like a very consequential policy, no? So why is this the first we’re hearing about it? And why are stories like this one from NPR denouncing President Trump for trafficking in fear while barely even mentioning the AFFH? The answer is that it’s political poison for the Democrats, who hope to ride into office like they did in 2018 — on a swell of support from the suburbs. To those suburbanites, part of the American Dream is being able to own a single-family home in the community of their choice, and to send their kids to the school of their choice. But those goals are at odds with the AFFH, which considers such aspirations greedy, even bigoted.

Kurtz predicts that if the Trump campaign continues to focus on the ills of AFFH, the Biden campaign will lie about it, attack those who raise the issue as promoting white supremacy and white privilege, or ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Or Team Biden will do a bit of all three. But Democrats won’t acknowledge what their plans really are.

And this points to the fundamental dishonesty of the Democrats: They sneak into power using cover and concealment from the Leftmedia, then they seek to implement policies that are often wildly unpopular with a majority of the American people.

If this dismantling of the American Dream is what the Democrats believe in, they should have the guts to say so.

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