The Corner

Stopping Obama’s Assault On the Suburbs

For two years I’ve been writing about President Obama’s steadily unfolding plans to transform the way Americans live.  Now there’s something you can do stop him.

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar is planning to offer an amendment to the THUD Bill (Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill), currently being considered by the House of Representatives.  Gosar’s amendment would bar the use of funding to implement, administer, or enforce the Obama administration’s proposed rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).

As even outgoing Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan acknowledges, AFFH isn’t about blocking actual cases of housing discrimination.  Instead, this rule uses the language of fighting discrimination to re-engineer Americans’ housing choices.  AFFH forces every municipality receiving federal aid to conduct a survey of its neighborhoods by race, ethnicity and income.  If the mixture is not to the federal government’s liking, changes would have to be made on pain of losing federal funding.  This would effectively strip local governments of their zoning powers.

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.

I wrote about the history, philosophy, and strategy of the Obama administration’s anti-suburban policies in Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities.  You can read more about AFFH here.

Congressman Gosar’s amendment has a chance of passing the House.  The Democrat controlled Senate poses a greater challenge.  Win or lose, however, the Gosar amendment puts AFFH into the public eye.  The Obama administration has made a point of downplaying its regionalist policies and delaying controversial and transformative rules like AFFH until after national elections.  Turning AFFH into a public issue is the best way to block both this ill-advised rule and the entire panoply of Obama’s regionalist policies.  The administration knows that AFFH is a political loser.  It would be a novel and useful development to see Obama and the Democrats shouldering the political consequences of their policies, something they are expert at avoiding.

When I asked Rep. Gosar’s office what led him to offer this amendment, I was given the following statement by the congressman: “American citizens should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to neighborhood engineering and gerrymandering at the behest of an overreaching federal government.  Local zoning decisions should be made by local communities, not bureaucrats in Washington, DC.”

A recorded vote on Rep. Gosar’s amendment to H.R. 475 will likely take place this Wednesday, June 11.

 Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at

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

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