By John Anthony
President Obama promised to “spread the wealth” during his 2008 candidacy. Few are aware of the network he has established to accomplish that goal. Two of the president’s most effective tools to create this massive transfer are ‘tax base sharing’ and ‘regionalization’.
Mr. Obama’s reason for wanting to transfer wealth is to create “social equity” for the less privileged. It is his belief that the poor live in urban slums, primarily because the rich “white” people moved to the wealthy suburbs leaving the less fortunate behind. Therefore, to correct the injustice, he plans to stop urban sprawl and send the middle class, or at least their money, back to the cities. This may sound a bit far-fetched, but he is actually doing it.
One of the easiest ways to move money from one area to another is through a simple method called ‘tax base sharing’. Instead of using local taxes to pay for local schools and services, tax base sharing, is a process of combining all or a portion of the tax revenues from various localities into a common pool. Then elected or even non-elected bureaucrats divide the money according to a predetermined formula. By altering the formula, it is easy to take money from the rich suburbs and transfer it to less well-off urban areas.
Proponents of tax base sharing argue that the program creates more equity in paying for services and allows people of modest means to have better schools and public services. It is sold to communities on the assumption that it will imoporve living conditions and everyone gets something.
This is a weak argument as the shift moves your money out of your control and your community. Meanwhile, the cost of rural public services skyrockets with less tax money to offset them. In fact, it so unpopular that, to date, very few regions are using the scheme. Among them is the Minneapolis-St. Paul 7 County Region. In the Twin Cities, proponents tend to be academics and the recipients of the greatest tax benefits while the opponents are the community members who are funding others. What neither side can deny is that, in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the government is redistributing wealth and picking the winners and losers.
Still, that has not deterred the president. He has taken a backdoor approach, called ‘regionalization’ to accomplish the very same results of stopping suburban sprawl while transferring middle class wealth toward urban communities. He supports his program with a persuasive “golden hammer” called grant money.
In 2012, President Obama began his Sustainable Communities Initiative. This program sends grant money to develop plans covering housing, land use, transportation, economic integration and other community services. Developing ‘energy efficiency’ and ‘sustainability’, may sound like good goals to protect the planet. But, like so much emerging from the steps of the White House, there is a catch.
The SCI money is only granted to regional plans that are managed by regional authorities or governing boards. In other words, other than in name only, the local planning boards are squeezed out of the planning process. One could argue, the entire purpose of the regional planning groups is to override the authority of those local officials who tend to disrupt the smooth transfers of economic re-distribution.
The final goal of the new regional governments is then to vote in ‘tax base sharing’.
One example of the Sustainable Communities Initiative at work is the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission of Madison, Wisconsin and Dane County. They received a $2 million grant to create a regional master plan. According to Stanley Kurtz, in his book “Spreading the Wealth,” the region received the grant in part because they agreed to place progressive grassroots members on the planning commission to assure their interests were in ideological alignment with those of the president. Sure enough, Lisa Alexander, a leftist supporter of the regional social equity movement drew up the plan. Her summary clearly states, plans “cannot be resolved by individual municipalities or organizations acting alone or through single-focus methods.” She further laments that it will take coercive mandates to force local communities to make certain they spread the wealth.
The Wisconsin Capital Area Regional Plan is not completed and President Obama promises to finish the job and move on to other regions in his second term. Together North New Jersey is just one region in the cross-hairs of the administration’s Sustainable Communities Initiative. Under the funding terms, grant recipients are “required” to support the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development.
If you are a public official and hear the term, ‘tax base sharing’ or ‘regionalization’, think twice. The free-flowing Sustainable Communities’ grant money may glitter like gold, but once the accompanying regulations are imposed, that Golden Hammer will leave you with little authority and your community with even less representation.
This report analyzes the workings of regionalism from the point of view of a pro-regionalist. You will notice the author, Lisa Alexander, suggests that regionalization will be more effective if states “coerce” local communities into redistributing their citizens’ wealth.
Madison has been a trial ground for Pres. Obama’s Sustainable Communities Initiative. The goal of the SCI is to move suburban dwellers into the city while redistributing the taxes from the suburbs into urban and inner ring suburban areas. Notice the 6 livability principles that accompany almost all grants from HUD, DOT and the EPA. Though many public officials don’t realize it yet, these ultimately become binding agreements enforced through federal regulations that reduce local authority and force redistribution on the participants.
This grant is provided through HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative. (Page 2) It requires the creation of a region and is only for the purpose of implementing the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development. (Page 2) It complies with UN Agenda 21 as the three elements of the Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainability are found on page 4. (Managing of the Environment, the Economy and Society)
Notice in the “Required Activities” under activity 2:, (page 6) meetings are focused on attracting the so-called, “under represented” typically consisting of low information constituents and delivered in their own language. This means there may be two or three separate “Discovery” meetings taking place all in different languages. The only people who fully understand what is happening are the facilitators who can easily push through their own ideas with little awareness of outcomes and long term consequences by the public. Rather than helping minorities, this plan “uses” them to further the interests of HUD and the groups that developed this plan. This includes, Sustainable Jersey and the NJ Office of Planning Advocacy. (Sidebar Page 2)