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Massive government overreach: Obama’s AFFH rule is out

The following excerpt was written by Stanley Kurtz and published on National Review.

Today, HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced the finalization of the Obama administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. A front-page article preemptively defending the move appears in today’s Washington Post. The final rule is 377 pages, vastly longer than the preliminary version of the rule promulgated in 2013.

AFFH is easily one of President Obama’s most radical initiatives, on a par with Obamacare in its transformative potential. In effect, AFFH gives the federal government a lever to re-engineer nearly every American neighborhood — imposing a preferred racial and ethnic composition, densifying housing, transportation, and business development in suburb and city alike, and weakening or casting aside the authority of local governments over core responsibilities, from zoning to transportation to education. Not only the policy but the political implications are immense — at the presidential, congressional, state, and local levels.

It is a scandal that the mainstream press has largely refused to report on AFFH until the day of its final release. The rule has been out in preliminary form for two years, and well before that the Obama administration’s transformative aims in urban/suburban policy were evident. Three years ago, when I wrote about Obama’s policy blueprint in Spreading the Wealth: How Obama Is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, the administration’s efforts to keep this issue under the radar were evident. Only last month, an admission of the stealth relied on by advocates to advance this initiative was caught on video.

Obama has downplayed his policy goals in this area and delayed the finalization of AFFH for years, because he understands how politically explosive this rule is. Once the true implications of AFFH are understood, Americans will rebel. The only prospect for successful imposition is a frog-boiling strategy of gradual intensification. The last day the frog will be able to jump is Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

Fundamentally, AFFH is an attempt to achieve economic integration. Race and ethnicity are being used as proxies for class, since these are the only hooks for social engineering provided by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Like AFFH itself, today’s Washington Post piece blurs the distinction between race and class, conflating the persistence of “concentrated poverty” with housing discrimination by race. Not being able to afford a freestanding house in a bedroom suburb is no proof of racial discrimination. Erstwhile urbanites have been moving to rustic and spacious suburbs since Cicero built his villa outside Rome. Even in a monoracial and mono-ethnic world, suburbanites would zone to set limits on dense development.

Emily Badger’s piece in today’s Washington Post focuses on race, but the real story of AFFH is the attempt to force integration by class, to densify development in American suburbs and cities, and to undo America’s system of local government and replace it with a “regional” alternative that turns suburbs into helpless satellites of large cities. Once HUD gets its hooks into a municipality, no policy area is safe. Zoning, transportation, education, all of it risks slipping into the control of the federal government and the new, unelected regional bodies the feds will empower. Over time, AFFH could spell the end of the local democracy that Alexis de Tocqueville rightly saw as the foundation of America’s liberty and distinctiveness.

Click here to read more from the National Review.

How can we stop this and other examples of massive federal overreach? A Convention of States -- called under Article V of the Constitution -- can propose constitutional amendments that limit Washington's ability to impose its will on state and local governments.

Click here to learn more.