Subtitled “How Obama Is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities,” this book sounds like it is right up the Antiplanner’s street (since my home fortunately doesn’t have an alley). Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, argues that Obama intends to forcefully implement the smart-growth agenda in his second term, taking away people’s property rights; redistributing income; and forcing people to live in mixed-income communities.
Despite having less than 200 pages of text, the book is documented with nearly 500 endnotes. I agree with many of the arguments Kurtz makes. Yet I find myself repelled by the odor of paranoia that pervades the book. While the author documents particular reports and proposals from various planners and liberal activists, he fails to show that the ideas of people like Myron Orfield or David Rusk are central to Obama’s thinking. Instead, he relies on ad hominem attacks and guilt-by-association.
Central to the book is a group called Building One America, whose web site declares itself to favor “inclusion, sustainability, and economic growth,” and brags that it was recently “at the White House.” According to Kurtz, this group’s goals are to put urban-growth boundaries around every metropolitan area; force economic integration, that is, force all neighborhoods to accept residents of all income levels; and redistribute income from high-income neighborhoods and cities to low-income ones in the same region (p. 7).