Obama’s former community-organizing mentors and colleagues want the administration to condition future federal aid on state adherence to the recommendations served up by these anti-suburban planning commissions. That would quickly turn an apparently modest set of regional-planning grants into a lever for sweeping social change.
In light of Obama’s unbroken history of collaboration with his organizing mentors on this anti-suburban project, and his proven willingness to impose ambitious policy agendas on the country through heavy-handed regulation, this project seems likely to advance.
A second and equally ambitious facet of Obama’s anti-suburban blueprint involves the work of Kruglik’s Building One America. Traditionally, Alinskyite community organizers mobilize leftist church groups. Kruglik’s group goes a step further by organizing not only the religious left but politicians from relatively less-well-off inner-ring suburbs. The goal is to build coalitions between urban and inner-ring suburban state legislators, in a bid to force regional tax-base sharing on middle-class suburbanites. That is how the practice came to Minnesota.
The July 2011 White House conference, gathering inner-ring suburban politicians for presentations by Rusk and Orfield, was an effort to place the prestige of the Obama administration behind Kruglik’s organizing efforts. A multi-state battle over regional tax-base “sharing,” abetted by the president, would usher in divisive class warfare on a scale likely to dwarf the puny efforts of Occupy Wall Street.
Obama’s little-known plans to undermine the political and economic autonomy of America’s suburbs constitute a policy initiative similar in ambition to health-care reform, the stimulus, or “cap-and-trade.” Obama’s anti-suburban plans also supply the missing link that explains his administration’s overall policy architecture.
Since the failure of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and the collapse of federal urban policy, leftist theorists of community organizing have advocated a series of moves designed to quietly redistribute tax money to the cities. Health-care reform and federal infrastructure spending (as in the stimulus) are backed by organizers as the best ways to reconstitute an urban policy without directly calling it that. A campaign against suburban “sprawl” under the guise of environmentalism is the next move. Open calls for suburban tax-base “sharing” are the final and most controversial link in the chain of a reconstituted and redistributive urban policy. President Obama is following this plan.
Middle-class suburban supporters of the president take note. It isn’t just the pocketbooks of the “1 percent” he’s after; it’s yours.