Stanley Kurtz writes:
President Trump had a great riff at his rally the other day in Phoenix. It was all about “abolish,” about how the Left wants to abolish the police, ICE, bail, even borders. Trump’s riff is effective because it is true. The Left has gone off the deep end, and they’re taking the Democrats with them.
Well, there’s another “abolish” the president can add to his list, and it just might be enough to tip the scales this November. Joe Biden and the Democrats want to abolish America’s suburbs. Biden and his party have embraced yet another dream of the radical Left: a federal takeover, transformation, and de facto urbanization of America’s suburbs. What’s more, Biden just might be able to pull off this “fundamental transformation.”
Naturally, Biden vigorously backs the Obama administration’s affirmatively furthering fair housing initiative (AFFH). As we have discussed many times on Power Line, implementing this radical program would be more than enough to end America’s suburbs as we’ve known them.
But, as Kurtz shows, Biden wants to do even more “furthering.” He 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.
Here’s what would happen under the combined operation of AFFH and the Booker/Biden plan:
Suburbs won’t be able to get the millions of dollars they’re used to in HUD grants unless they eliminate single-family zoning and densify their business districts. AFFH also forces HUD-grant recipients to sign pledges to “affirmatively further fair housing.” Those pledges could get suburbs sued by civil-rights groups, or by the feds, if they don’t get rid of single-family zoning. The only defense suburbs have against this two-pronged attack is to refuse HUD grants. True, that will effectively redistribute huge amounts of suburban money to cities, but if they give up their HUD grants at least the suburbs will be free of federal control.
The Booker approach — now endorsed by Biden — may block even this way out. Booker wants to hold suburban zoning hostage not only to HUD grants, but to the federal transportation grants used by states to build and repair highways. It may be next to impossible for suburbs to opt out of those state-run highway repairs. Otherwise, suburban roads will deteriorate and suburban access to major arteries will be blocked. AFFH plus the Booker plan will leave America’s suburbs with no alternative but to eliminate their single-family zoning and turn over their planning to the feds. Slowly but surely, suburbs will become helpless satellites of the cities they surround, exactly as progressive urbanists intend.
Shouldn’t voters know that this is what’s at stake in the election? Of course they should. Indeed, with the suburban vote (especially the female portion of it) considered the swing constituency in the upcoming election, it’s imperative that voters understand what Biden has in mind for the suburbs — all the more so now that urban dwellers are coming to question the wisdom of living in cities that won’t adequately be policed.
Unfortunately, as Kurtz says, Republicans have been too clueless or timid to make an issue of the Democrats’ anti-suburban plans. Even worse, the timidity of Ben Carson, the Trump administration’s HUD Secretary, makes it difficult for Trump to make an issue of this:
Incredibly, although AFFH is arguably Obama’s most radical initiative, Ben Carson’s HUD has still not gotten rid of it. Instead, Carson suspended enforcement of the rule early on and then tinkered around for three years trying to come up with a replacement. What Carson has developed so far is something you might call “AFFH lite.” While this possible replacement removes many of the regulation’s excesses, Carson has so far retained the most egregious feature of AFFH. He still wants to use HUD money to gut suburban single-family zoning. How Carson can even think about taking this stance in the face of President Trump’s explicit directive to reduce and remove excessive federal regulation is a mystery.
It will be very tough for President Trump to make a political issue out of Biden’s housing plans so long as his own cabinet secretary is talking about killing suburban single-family zoning with AFFH. I think Carson’s wobbling on AFFH explains a lot about why Democrats have become so bold with their plans to undo suburban zoning. If even the Trump administration goes along with federal attacks on suburban zoning, the Dems figure they’ve got political cover. Time was when Obama administration officials would turn somersaults to deny that they were going to control suburban-zoning decisions, even when it was obvious that this was their plan. Now, Biden and Booker are remarkably open about their desire to densify the suburbs and get rid of single-family zoning.
The Democrat war on the suburbs is a golden gift to President Trump, but he won’t be able to make use of it until he throws over Carson’s AFFH lite and completely guts Obama’s wildly radical regulation. Then Trump can go to town on Biden and the Dems for making war on the suburbs.
Fortunately, President Trump seems to understand the problem. Today, he tweeted:
At the request of many great Americans who live in the Suburbs, and others, I am studying the AFFH housing regulation that is having a devastating impact on these once thriving Suburban areas. Corrupt Joe Biden wants to make them MUCH WORSE. Not fair to homeowners, I may END!
Please do, Mr. President.