Monday, August 31, 2020

Trump's Most Conspicuously Racist Policy Goes Not-Seen...,

theamericanconservative  |  Since at least the inauguration, a central question of this presidency has been whether Trump could cease campaigning and learn to govern. Now, with less than 70 days until the general election, a contrary question is equally pressing: will Trump stop governing like a Republican and start campaigning again as a populist?

Gone from Trump 2020 are the effective—if crass—messages to truckers, miners, and bikers that carried Trump 2016 to victory. The overt appeals now go to“beautiful boaters” and “suburban housewives.” The emphasis on protecting entitlements and building infrastructure has given way to a payroll tax deferral and a capital gains tax cut.

The recent foray into housing policy induces particular whiplash. Republicans have long criticized President Obama’s “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) policy, under which the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) could require local governments receiving federal funding to analyze the demographic makeup of their communities and pursue policies to redress racial segregation. However laudable the goal, the policy was overly ponderous and essentially toothless, conditioning HUD funding to state and local governments on drafting lengthy reports, not reforming actual policy. Trump and his HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, had attempted to improve upon AFFH policy by tying federal funds to local policies that would reduce regulatory barriers and increase housing supply. Deregulation on behalf of families seeking affordable housing would seem to lie at the intersection of conservative and populist priorities. But last week they executed a campaign-season reversal.

In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Trump and Carson essentially renounced their own AFFH policy and instead pledged to “protect America’s suburbs,” advancing a new policy that allows states and localities to fulfill fair housing requirements by doing anything that “rationally relates” to AFFH objectives. Whereas just months ago the federal government sought affirmatively to expand housing supply, now Trump and Carson claim such efforts offer a “path to tyranny” and a “dystopian vision of building low-income housing units next to your suburban house.” Federal incentives themselves represent a “radical social-engineering project” and an attempt “to put the federal government in charge of local decisions.”