Obama’s Plans for the Suburbs
Last Friday’s headlines focused on President Obama’s address at Argonne National Laboratory, where he proposed to spend $2 billion on an energy-security trust fund for renewable fuel research. Obama boldly pledged “to shift our cars entirely…off oil.”
How exactly is he planning to do that? Research will have an effect over time, but “entirely off oil” is either a greatly exaggerated or a very incomplete account of the administration’s energy plans. The New York Times story on Obama’s speech dryly notes that although the president “has vowed to make addressing climate change a priority in his second term…he has provided only scant details on how he intends to act.”
Look closely, however, and it’s possible to spot some troubling plans. The Times, and just about every other major news outlet, neglected to note that on the day of Obama’s Argonne speech, the Department of Energy released a series of coordinated reports called “Transportation Energy Futures” (developed in cooperation with Argonne). This DOE project explores a variety of strategies designed to curb America‘s greenhouse gas emissions up to 80 percent by about 2050.
Arguably the most controversial of those reports covers the “effects of the built environment on transportation.” To put it plainly, the “ built environment” report lays out strategies the federal government can use to force development away from suburbs and into cities, supposedly for the sake of reducing carbon dioxide emissions given off by all those suburban commuters. The Obama administration wants to force so-called smart growth policies on the country: get out of your car, stay out of the suburbs, move into small, tightly-packed urban apartment complexes, and walk or take public transportation instead of driving.
The Department of Energy’s built environment report lays out a scenario much like the one I described in Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities. The report highlights two policy options most likely to increase dense, Manhattan-style urban development, without exceeding the traditional limits of federal authority. Those options are eliminating the home-mortgage interest deduction and conditioning future federal aid of all kinds on local adherence to “smart growth” principles. Of these, I think the second is the most likely to be implemented. The built environment report also says that the most convenient bureaucratic channel through which to manage such federal pressure is the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
The built environment report acknowledges that conditioning federal aid on population density would be political dynamite. And this, of course, is why Obama loudly touted his plans for an energy security trust fund, while downplaying the DOE’s report release. Essentially, the built environment report suggests that federal funding on new schools or roads might be held to population density criteria that would starve projects in suburbs in favor of those in cities. I’ve argued elsewhere that these so-called smart growth policies are about a lot more than greenhouse gases. The global warming issue serves here as a justification for wealth redistribution on a grand scale.
The other major, yet still largely unnoticed, energy story from last Friday was the Bloomberg report on the Obama administration’s plans to order all federal agencies to consider global warming (i.e. carbon dioxide emissions) before approving large projects. I’ve already discussed the potential of this new administrative order to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Yet the impact of these new Obama administration guidelines will likely be far wider.
The Bloomberg report notes that once carbon dioxide emissions can be invoked in court, not just oil pipelines but even highway construction can be delayed or blocked (all those suburban commuter fumes). So Obama’s new regulatory guidelines may shortly give environmental groups the power to call a halt to a whole series of suburban development projects.
How can these changes be fought? Publicity helps. Controversial policies like “smart growth” often operate under the public’s radar. Obama wants the energy debate to focus on benign-sounding research plans, while his administration’s interest in placing the massive power of federal funding behind urban densification strategies goes unnoticed.
The other way to block Obama’s plans is to have Congress cut funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative. In particular, future funding for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program ought to be eliminated. Although the cost of these planning grants is small, their potential impact is large, especially if the administration follows through with the built environment report’s option of conditioning a wide range of federal aid on local adherence to so-called smart-growth planning. (I described these troubling “sustainability” grants in “ Obama’s Plan for Ohio.”)
Budget-cutting House Republicans were able to halt funding of Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants in fiscal year 2012. Blocking that funding again with a targeted public campaign wouldn’t entirely end the program. There are still plenty of fully-funded planning grants out there. Even so, a successful public battle over future funding for these “Sustainable Communities” planning grants might discourage the administration from carrying through on the sort of anti-suburban proposals contained in the built environment report.
It may already be too late to prevent the administration’s new directive on carbon-dioxide pollution standards from sparking a series of court challenges to suburban highway construction, and perhaps other forms of suburban development as well. But it’s not too late to prevent the most powerful blow of all — the aggressive use of conditional federal funding to Manhattanize America.
TEA Party take note. You might want to encourage your representatives in Congress to block future funding for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants. A public battle on that issue just might discourage the administration from pulling the trigger on its most draconian anti-suburban plans.
This article was originally published NationalReview.com.
The Labor Nominee’s Other Lies
TThomas Perez is a multiple prevaricator.
When the Inspector General of the Department of Justice (henceforth DoJ) last week issued a report blistering DoJ’s Civil Rights Division, much attention focused on the IG’s recognition that division chief Perez, under oath, had “not reflect[ed] the entire story regarding the involvement of political appointees” in the now-infamous 2009 decision to dismiss voter-intimidation cases against several New Black Panthers in Philadelphia.
While this aspect of Perez’s dishonesty deserves all the attention it can garner (also deserving attention is the extreme dubiousness of the IG’s assertion that Perez’s lies about political-appointee interference were not “intentional”), it is far from the only example, from that very same testimony, of Perez pushing stories that were flagrantly false.
Perez came awfully close to perjury, and some might argue that he committed it, when discussing the far more important, broader issue that was the main focus of the IG report. (It boggles belief, by the way, that the IG never even discussed this untruth, considering that it so directly involved the larger substance of his report.) That broader issue was the question, fairly definitively answered in the affirmative by the IG, of whether the Civil Rights Division is a hotbed of hostility against the very idea of race-neutral enforcement of civil rights and voting rights laws.
When testifying under oath on May 14, 2010, before the US Commission on Civil Rights, Perez in effect denied that any such hostility existed. “We don’t have people of that ilk” in the Division, he said. The question, he said, is “moot.” Again and again, under questioning by Commissioner Todd Gaziano, Perez said that if such an attitude existed, he would put a stop to it, and he indicated that such a practice was completely alien to his experience with and knowledge of his division’s practices.
This was no small matter. It encompassed almost the entirety of Gaziano’s initial questioning of Perez, taking up a significant portion of the hearing.
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The Obamacare ‘Sting’
In the Academy Award winning movie “The Sting,” the characters played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford set-up a fake betting parlor and racetrack broadcast to “reel in the whale.” The “sting,” or the con game, was set-up from the very start to play out exactly as planned; the winner was predetermined. The Affordable Care Act, laughable as that law’s title may be — is not unlike “The Sting,” in that the outcome emanating from the passage of this law was predetermined, but it may not be what you think. Most people who understand Obamacare to be an affront to the Constitution and a gear stopper, economically, hold the position that the real catalyst behind this horrible piece of legislation was the creation of a single-payer healthcare system. To avoid this the popular hypothesis held that those opposed to the outrageous provisions set forth in Obamacare would either: a) win the General Election in a landslide and repeal the whole of the law or, b) in the aftermath of a lame electoral attempt, dismantle the law piece-by-piece in an effort to defund and render impotent the law piecemeal. As it stands we have opted for “B.”
Business Leaders Can Save the Nation
Paul R. Hollrah
It’s no secret that Washington is awash with lobbyists. But what few Americans fail to realize is that the Washington law firms and lobbyists are not there to help their clients solve problems.
In Search of Winning II
Establishment Republicans focus on winning voting blocs because that is how liberals have defined the electoral contest. Liberals have divided voters into blocs, convincing each that by winning elections government will give them some special consideration they otherwise could not gain.
Intellectuals & Race
Walter E. Williams
After reading Dr. Thomas Sowell’s latest book, “Intellectuals and Race,” one cannot emerge with much respect for the reasoning powers of intellectuals, particularly academics, on matters of race.
The ‘PC’ Dumbing Down of US Schools
Jane S. Shaw
US colleges and universities are drowning in a sea of “political correctness,” and many of higher education’s “best and brightest” don’t recognize the danger.
A Funny Catholic Girl
Complains About Obama
Chris T. Smith
Regardless of what you think about Sarah Palin, she is definitely spot-on about those Obamacare “death panels” (also known as “The Independent Payment Advisory Board”). Before you know it, the federal government will probably help set up “Planned Childhood” or something like that.
Before the Progressives
Staged ‘Occupy Wall Street’
In the year before the 2012 general election, the American Progressive Movement choreographed a series of street theater productions which fueled a media-driven counterpunch to the TEA Party. The production was entitled “Occupy Wall Street.”
It’s the Students, Stupid
The billionaires’ club, with their long retinue of pundits, researchers, and other hangers-on, are giving their attention, some of the time, to education. But they are not paying attention to the academic work of students, or to their responsibility for their own education.
A Real Term Limit
The main thing wrong with the term limits movement is the “s” at the end of the word “limit.” What are advocates of term limits trying to accomplish?
Another Bad Democrat Idea
Col. Bob Pappas, USMC (ret)
One wonders how it is possible to have people in elected positions whose apparent sole objective is to play political games.
A Springtime Gift of Truth
Like far too many ostensibly tough-minded journalists of the past hundred years, I.F. Stone could not or would not admit the truth about Stalinist communism, despite its being the horrifying elephant in every room, including salons where to this day leftists spout their arrogant nonsense.
All Roads Lead to Cyprus
Cyprus is Europe’s original failure. It was the first part of modern Europe to be invaded and colonized by Muslims, while its native Christian population was ethnically cleansed. Cyprus is to Islam what Czechoslovakia was to Nazism; the canary in the coal mine
The Battle Over Foreign Policy
In the current issue of Foreign Policy Magazine a very vivid description was painted of the first four years of the Obama administration’s quest for a solution in Afghanistan.
Dumb & Dangerous:
America’s Fast Pass for Saudi Arabia
It’s business as usual in the post-9/11 world. Your federal government is back to pandering to wealthy travelers from Saudi Arabia.
Kerry Commits US to UN Arms
Trade Treaty Gun Grab
Investor’s Business Daily
As the world body meets this week to hammer out an agreement to restrict international arms trade, our Secretary of State commits us to pushing a treaty that may also restrict our Second Amendment rights.
The Cyprus Great Bank Robbery
When does banksters’ extortion become outright theft? The latest example and escalation by the placing a levy fee on bank deposits in the tax haven of Cyprus illustrates the bold step of seizing private liquid saving accounts, under the guise of a government tax.
The Media Imperialists
When the New York Times finally decided in January to report the anti-Semitic comments made by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohammed Morsi, almost two weeks after MEMRI broke the story, the report prompted further coverage in newspapers across the world, and even forced a statement from the White House in condemnation of the remarks. But why did it take so long?
Warning: Obama’s Green
Money Scheme Exposed II
America is waging war on two main fronts. The ongoing terrorist threat is obvious. Less apparent, but equally as dangerous, is the loss of freedoms through a well-organized, United Nations’ sponsored coup on America’s sovereignty.
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