Forbes has an interesting article posted today by Stanley Kurtz who writes about how Obama’s policies rob the suburbs to pay for the cities:
Political experts left and right agree: the coming election will be decided by America’s suburbanites. From Florida to Virginia on across the country, in every battleground state, they are the key demographic. All of which raises a question that has not been considered as yet, and ought to be: is President Obama’s re-election in the suburbanites’ interest? The answer emphatically is no.
As many Americans do not know, in the eyes of the leftist community organizers who trained Obama, suburbs are instruments of bigotry and greed — a way of selfishly refusing to share tax money with the urban poor. Obama adopted this view early on, and he has never wavered from this ideological commitment, as a review of his actions in office goes to show.
President Obama’s plans for a second-term include an initiative to systematically redistribute the wealth of America’s suburbs to the cities. It’s a transformative idea, and deserves to be fully aired before the election. But like a lot of his major progressive policy innovations, Obama has advanced this one stealthily–mostly through rule-making, appointment, and vague directives. Obama has worked on this project in collaboration with Mike Kruglik, one of his original community organizing mentors. Kruglik’s new group, Building One America, advocates “regional tax-base sharing,” a practice by which suburban tax money is directly redistributed to nearby cities and less-well-off “inner-ring” suburbs. Kruglik’s group also favors a raft of policies designed to coerce people out of their cars and force suburbanites (with their tax money) back into densely packed cities.
Obama has lent the full weight of his White House to Kruglik’s efforts. A federal program called the Sustainable Communities Initiative, for example, has salted planning commissions across the country with “regional equity” and “smart growth” as goals. These are, of course, code words. “Regional equity” means that, by their mere existence, suburbs cheat the people who live in cities. It means, “Let’s spread the suburbs’ wealth around” – i.e., take from the suburbanites to give to the urban poor. “Smart growth” means, “Quit building sub-divisions and malls, and move back to where mass transit can shuttle you between your 800 square foot apartment in an urban tower and your downtown job.” In all likelihood, these planning commissions will issue “recommendations” which Obama would quickly turn into requirements for further federal aid. In fact, his administration has already used these tactics to impose federal education requirements on reluctant states. Indeed, part of Obama’s assault on the suburbs is his effort to undercut the autonomy of suburban school districts.
(Continue reading at Forbes.com)
I thought this article was especially interesting given my own personal experiences in the state of Michigan. Talk to local government officials here and they all say the same thing — local transportation and housing are where the money is these days.
While some may hope this effort is nothing more than the President’s attempt to use the White House as a bully pulpit to encourage Americans to mimic the urbane lifestyle he experienced in an upscale Chicago neighborhood, the record of past such efforts by the federal government is more troubling.
In January 1998, President Bill Clinton’s Environmental Protection Agency threatened to withhold federal transportation funds from the Atlanta region because it did not meet federal air-quality standards and said that it would agree to restore the funding only if the state of Georgia dramatically altered its land-use and transportation policies in ways similar to those characteristic of the Smart Growth polices that discourage single-family detached housing and encourage public transit use and investment. Georgia agreed to do this, at least through the waning days of the Clinton Administration, but soon abandoned the policies when leadership in Washington changed.
Carol Browner headed the EPA when the threat was imposed on Atlanta under Clinton. Today, she is Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. With the prospect of even worse to come from this new DOT-HUD partnership on sustainable communities, those who are skeptical of the President’s grandiose efforts at social engineering should be on the alert.
The sheer amount of money being handed down from the federal government is staggering, according to local officials. So staggering, in fact, they had to get creative in finding ways to use all of it. What did they come up with? In one city close to my home, for example, they’ve developed a new, state-of-the-art office complex for city transportation workers, complete with multiple flat-screen televisions in every office, a fitness center for employees that never gets used and millions of dollars in phone and video conferencing equipment that no one knows how to operate. In addition, they’ve spent millions on equipping city buses with GPS monitoring systems so that riders with smartphones can track when their bus will arrive down to the minute — priority stuff, obviously.
But who cares about the cost? When it’s not their money, they have no worries in spending it.
Grants that fund these projects come from federal agencies and programs, including the “New Freedom” program.
(I’m sure it’s pure coincidence, but “New Freedom” is also the historical designation given to progressive hero Woodrow Wilson’s first presidential campaign in 1912. In the campaign, Wilson distanced himself from Theodore Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism” and insisted on the importance of free enterprise. Once elected, he abandoned the concept, however, and turned to chief economic advisor Louise Brandeis who focused on dismantling and limiting growing businesses. Wilson’s “New Freedom” thus greatly extended the power of the federal government in social and economic affairs and paved the way for programs like FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great Society and Obama’s health care overhaul.)
Today, massive federal spending “trickles down” into programs with names like United We Ride — programs all aimed at artificially expanding cities at the expense of those who don’t live there.