The Corner

Obama’s Next Transformation: And How to Stop It

Safely past the hurdles of re-election and the mid-terms, President Obama has plenty of time and scope left to continue his transformative ways. Obama’s sweeping new rule, “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH), is up next. AFFH would override local zoning authority and expand federal control over where and how Americans live.  Because of its sweeping impact and the fact that potential Clinton Vice-Presidential running mate, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, will be in charge of implementation, this issue has the potential to shift the terrain of the presidential race as well.

There is a way to stop AFFH, however, and you can help.  Late this evening the House is expected to vote on an amendment by Congressman Paul Gosar that would block any funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to enforce AFFH.  Now is the time to contact your congressman and urge a yes vote on the Gosar amendment.

The AFFH rule represents a stunning repudiation of America’s system of local self-government. This is as radical—and as politically explosive—a change as anything President Obama has attempted.  That’s exactly why he never talks about it, and why he’s delayed it past every election, setting deadline after failed deadline for the final rule’s release. A preliminary version of AFFH has been public for years, yet Obama never mentions it in speeches, press conferences, or the State of the Union address. The mainstream press essentially ignores AFFH.           

Republican representatives in particular need to understand that once the final AFFH rule is promulgated, this issue is going to be widely discussed and debated. Constituents will hold them responsible for failing to stop AFFH when they had a chance. No Republican presidential candidate will back AFFH, but Hillary Clinton will surely endorse it. I think she’d have done this in any case, but now that her re-election strategy has moved so openly to the left, her support of AFFH is assured. Her most widely talked about potential running mate, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, will be in charge of implementing this rule, should the Gosar amendment fail.  That, too, makes AFFH certain to loom large in the presidential campaign.

Contrary to its title, AFFH isn’t about blocking housing discrimination. That is already illegal, and former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan acknowledged that AFFH is not about stopping housing discrimination, but instead about changing the way Americans live. AFFH will force every municipality that takes federal housing money to take a detailed survey of where its citizens live, by income, race, ethnicity, etc.  If the mixture is not to the federal government’s liking, changes would have to be made at local expense. In effect, this would strip local governments of their zoning power.

Furthermore, by redefining “fair housing” to mean housing near transportation hubs and dense downtown districts where many jobs are available, AFFH can be used to change the way Americans live, urbanizing suburbs and Manhattanizing cities. The rule can also be used to press suburbs into regional housing consortia designed to strip local governments of their independence.

To read more about the transformative ambition behind the AFFH rule and the Obama administration’s policies on urban and suburban development, see my book on the subject, as well as my treatment of how the Obama administration’s policies are already playing out in the San Francisco Bay and Minneapolis-St. Paul areas. The real goal of AFFH is to push the whole country in the direction of what’s already happening in San Francisco and the Twin Cities.

Remember, the Gosar amendment is scheduled for a vote this evening.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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