Skip to comments.Obama’s Plan for Ohio : Making suburban taxpayers prop up failing Democratic cities
Posted on 10/08/2012 6:54:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Suburbanites of Ohio, listen up. As swing voters in the ultimate swing state, you will have an outsized impact on this election. President Obama has pledged to govern in the interests of middle-class voters like you. With so much resting on your shoulders, that is a promise you should scrutinize with care. What exactly are Obamas plans for Ohios suburban communities? The answer may shock you.
President Obama aims to help Ohios Democrats bail out your states struggling cities by forcibly transferring suburban tax money to urban treasuries. Its a bold plan to redistribute the wealth of Ohios suburbs. It also calls for halting the sort of highway and commercial development that brings jobs and taxes to the suburbs. The shorthand for this is regionalism. Should Obama be reelected, a redistributive city-based regionalist agenda will likely be imposed on Ohios suburbs. The best way to envision the future of suburban Ohio in a second Obama term is to see how close this regionalist agenda came to enactment in Obamas first four years.
Around 2006, Cleveland-area planners began floating proposals to grant the city access to taxes collected by surrounding suburbs. Their model was the MinneapolisSt. Paul region, where the Minnesota state legislature forces reluctant suburbanites to share their tax revenue with the cities. Clevelands regionalists also touted Portland, Ore., for its metropolitan planning agency. Portlands planning commission has laid down an urban growth boundary that forbids highway or commercial development around the edges of the metropolitan area. Regionalists blame the plight of the cities on the loss of tax base to the suburbs. Blocking new highways that could ease commutes or serve as gateways to newly constructed suburbs is designed both to prevent further exodus and to press current suburbanites back toward the cities. This is what Obama was getting at in that recently released 2007 video where he said, We dont need to build more highways out in the suburbs.
Redistributive tax sharing and urban-growth boundaries are rare and deeply controversial, in part because they are by design anti-suburban policies. They effectively permit big cities to gut the political and economic independence of their surrounding municipalities. The regionalist Left, President Obama included, wants to see these policies exported to every metropolitan area in America. And Cleveland was on board with the plan.
By 2007, the Cleveland Plain Dealer was touting Minnesota-style tax sharing, while suggesting that the humble metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) that have long divvied out federal transportation funding might be converted into Portland-style regional planning commissions with the power to block suburban development. With these changes, Clevelands regionalists aimed either to prevent would-be suburbanites from moving out of the city or to capture a chunk of tax money from suburbanites who had already left.
In October 2007, Clevelands new regionalists sprang into action. The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), the five-county MPO that channels federal transportation funding to the region, took an unprecedented step. Using powers conferred by NOACAs weighted voting system, members from Cleveland and its poorer, inner-ring suburbs threatened to veto the construction of a highway interchange in Avon, a fast-growing, affluent suburb in neighboring Lorain County, unless Avon agreed to share taxes from businesses that moved near the new road.
Outraged board members from outlying counties felt strong-armed by Cleveland and the inner-ring suburbs of Cuyahoga County. Avon mayor Jim Smith said his supposedly voluntary agreement to share the towns taxes with Cleveland felt more like the action of a hostage with a gun at his head. Clevelands regionalists, on the other hand, were delighted. They saw the Avon deal as a first big step for their ambitious new agenda to seize effective political and economic control of area suburbs.
The Democratic electoral sweep of 2008 quickly gave Clevelands regionalists the opening they were looking for. As Obama and the national Democrats embarked on their own transformative agenda, Democrats captured the Ohio House of Representatives for the first time in 14 years. The new House speaker, Armond Budish, a Democrat the first speaker from Northeast Ohio in more than 70 years pledged to enact a bold regionalist agenda across the state. With Democrat Ted Strickland in the governors mansion, prospects looked good for Portland-style planning agencies and a state-imposed tax-sharing program. Echoing Obamas thenchief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, Clevelands regionalists promised not to waste the financial crisis. They would seize on it instead to grant Cleveland access to the tax base of surrounding suburbs.
Mid-2009 saw the high tide of regionalism in Ohio. A group of mayors and city planners had established the Regional Prosperity Initiative (RPI) for 16 counties in Northeast Ohio. The RPI was floating proposals for regional tax-base sharing and consolidation of the four Northeast Ohio MPOs into a single regional planning agency. Consolidation would grant Cleveland and a few other urban areas the power to clamp down on development in suburbs across the region.
At this point, the anti-suburban agenda of Clevelands regionalists began to stir opposition. Alex Kelemen, a businessman and a soon-to-be member of Hudsons city council, led the charge, often locked in debate with Hudsons mayor, William Currin, a leader of the regionalist forces. Kelemen pointed out that under the RPIs tax-sharing plan, a small municipality could be forced to divert local voter-approved education funding to a large city in a different county. Not only would that be undemocratic, it would make school levies nearly impossible to pass. Kelemen decried the RPIs regionalist plans as the product of a Cleveland-centered bureaucracy with contempt for growing suburbs and ignorance of business.
In Democrat-dominated Columbus, objections by Kelemen and a growing number of suburban mayors across Northeast Ohio carried little weight. Yet by late 2010, the tide had turned. Overreach by Obama and congressional Democrats on health care and the stimulus package had stirred up the tea-party rebellion. Although Ohios Democrats held majorities capable of imposing regional tax-base sharing and urban-dominated planning councils, they held back, sensing the conservative tide in the upcoming midterm election.
A massive corruption scandal just then breaking in Cleveland-centric Cuyahoga County also stymied the regionalists plans. The idea of forcing suburban taxpayers to bail out a corrupt and mismanaged Cuyahoga County government in an election year was a nonstarter.
With President Obamas help, however, that was far from the end of the line for Ohios regionalist agenda. Deeply committed to redistributive regionalism, in 2009 the Obama administration hailed Ohios RPI proposals as a national model. A year later, Northeast Ohio received a coveted regional planning grant under Obamas little-known but potentially revolutionary Sustainable Communities Initiative. Despite a Republican resurgence in Ohio and victory for the Republican gubernatorial candidate, John Kasich, in 2010, the regionalists in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County would get a new shot at transforming the state.
The same crowd that ran NOACA and the RPI now took on leadership roles in the group created by Obamas federal grant, the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC). That gave Clevelands regionalists federal recognition, and potentially the ability to place federal-aid leverage behind their policy preferences.
NEOSCC has seen factional struggles between its bolder leftists and its more cautious political hands. The more progressive faction floats proposals like Portland-style urban-growth boundaries. Savvier regionalists understand that a piecemeal approach may quietly achieve the same end. If NEOSCC manages to merge the four metropolitan planning organizations in the 16-county region, it can then create a de facto growth boundary without formally declaring one. With weighted voting for cities, the new planning commission could block suburban development projects on a case-by-case basis.
Either tactic would deprive Ohio of jobs. For example, the state was thrilled in 2009 when a large new Barbasol shaving-cream plant located in the Cleveland exurb of Ashland, Ohio, rather than Syracuse, N.Y. Ashland extended rail, sewer, and road infrastructure out to semi-rural land to service the plant site. Urban-based smart growth planners would have forbidden all that as sprawl, and Barbasols new plant would now be in New York instead of Ohio.
NEOSCC is due to issue its final report in 2013, and that could spell trouble for suburban Ohio. Leaders of NEOSCC, as well as spokesmen for the RPI (often the same individuals), can be expected to press their agenda on the Ohio state legislature in 2013, particularly if Obama and the Democrats do well in 2012. A safely reelected Obama could put considerable regulatory muscle behind the groups findings. Back in 2009, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan floated the idea of doling out federal aid in such a way as to advance the goals of Northeast Ohios regionalists. All Obama would have to do is condition Ohios receipt of various federal-aid programs on the states adherence to NEOSCCs recommendations. Its a tactic hes used on other issues.
That only begins to describe Obamas efforts on behalf of the regionalist agenda in Ohio. A group called Building One America (BOA) has attempted to draw politicians from inner-ring suburbs across Ohio into an alliance with city-based legislators on regionalist issues. BOAs goal is to create in Columbus a political coalition capable of forcing tax-base sharing and large-scale regional planning on Ohios suburbs. BOA is run by some of the same community organizers who trained and worked with Barack Obama in his early Chicago days. Those left-leaning activists see regional tax-base sharing as the antidote to what they characterize as the greed of Americas suburbanites.
President Obama has lent BOAs anti-suburban efforts the full prestige and resources of his administration. The White House hosted a BOA-organized conference attended by numerous Ohio politicians, for example, in July 2011. The assembled Ohio politicos heard speakers tout the advantages of Portlands planning system as well as those of regional tax-base sharing in Minnesota. Obamas ties to the regionalist movement run deep (as I show in my book on the topic, Spreading the Wealth). Reelect Obama and hes sure to push for regionalism in Ohio and beyond.
In short, if President Obama is still around to help them, Ohios regionalists will get another bite at the apple in 2013. Tax sharing and large-scale regional planning were close to passage in 2009. With Obama backing up NEOSCC by putting strings on federal aid, and the White House supporting BOAs coalition-building efforts in Columbus, prospects for a regionalist triumph in Ohio would be good. If Obama was in the White House and a Democrat took Ohios governorship in 2014, a regionalist revolution in the state would have to be reckoned more likely than not.
Be assured that if Ohios legislature sets up a regional tax-base-sharing scheme, it would transform the state. Legislation enabling and incentivizing the practice would surely be seized on by interests well beyond Northeast Ohio. The regionalist agenda may have come out of Cleveland, but every suburbanite in Ohio would feel the effects of its ratification by the state government.
Ohios regionalists will tell you that their tax-base-sharing plan is strictly voluntary. Dont believe it. Their goal is to have Washington and Columbus create incentives and disincentives that leave suburbanites little choice but to sign on. Tax-base sharing in Ohio would be no more voluntary than was the agreement by Avons Mayor Smith to tax sharing in 2009.
So listen up, suburban Ohioans. When it comes to protecting your middle-class communities, President Obama talks a good game. Unfortunately, his well-laid anti-suburban plans tell a different story. The president and his fellow Democrats are coming for your tax money. Redistribution is the goal, and suburban Ohio is target No. 1. More broadly, Obamas regionalist agenda is an attack on the values and way of life of suburban America. How odd it would be were Ohios suburban taxpayers to hand Obama the key to their own undoing. Forewarned is forearmed. Suburban Ohioans, its up to you.
Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. This piece is adapted from his new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama Is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities.
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Where I live, the city has been charging an occupation tax to people who live in the suburbs, but work in the city. There have been efforts to permit the city schools to absorb some suburban school districts, but so far, that hasn’t gone over well.
None of this is new, and yes, it’s a scam for the suburbanites.
Yep Obama really hates those rich white folks in the suburbs..the man makes me sick!
Kurtz is correct, but he is intellectually dishonest. The word
“white” does not appear in his article, except as in “White House”. Kurtz knows darn well that a primary aim of “redistributing” from suburbs to cities is to redistribute from whites to blacks and Hispanics. By phrasing it as “suburbs vs. cities” he is trying to avoid charges of racism and race-baiting, but everyone knows what he is talking about, so he might as well own up. I guess Kurtz doesn’t want to end up like Derbyshire.
SSDD - Democrats are ALWAYS looking for someone else’s money to carry them. People have been fleeing big cities for years to avoid being robbed by the freeloading left. Now, the left wants to come out to their homes and rob them anyway.
Screw Cleveland - they made their overpriced political bed, now let them sleep in it.
Aren’t they already doing that?
I mean, Columbus has gone out and annexed all of Franklin County and then some.
Sooner or later, all those nice, BIG, surburban foreclosures, which are now fannie/freddie/GOVERNMENT owned will become the new housing projects of the 21st century.
I have NO DOUBT this will happen. I truly believe it has been the end-game plan all along, way back when those bad housing loans originated.
Every single neighborhood will be flooded with low-lifes.
EXCEPT neighborhoods of members of congress and potus.
This is another part of the redistribution plan.
Everybody else PAYS!
Where I live we have something called the Saunders Decree. Some black plaintiffs about 15 yrs. ago sued claiming that the Section 8 housing that was available to them was in majority black areas, and hence, RAAAACIST.
So the County entered a Consent Decree under which they must actively move as many of these tenants as possible into more posh (white) suburban neighborhoods. They have actually been buying up houses with OUR TAX MONEY to do so.
Columbus had the advantage of being able to blackmail unincorporated areas of the county with denial of water service if they didn't allow themselves to be "annexed". I believe that has pretty much come to an end in Ohio with their more recent annexation laws.
Unfortunately, Tennessee (where I now reside) still hasn't learned the lessons of the overemphasis on annexing. Chattanooga, under RINO Mayor Littlefield, has been trying to go on an annexing rempage, gobbling up hunks of unincorporated Hamilton County for quite a while now. The state needs some new annexation laws badly to keep the greedy cities from gobbling up more land and forcing people to pay double and triple their present property tax rates for NO INCREASE IN SERVICES!
When energy sources are restricted and very expensive people are forced to live close to public transportation and in ‘planned’ communities.
That way the productive can once again be taxed to support the nonproductive takers.
a few years back, Rochester, NY mayor ran for Monroe County (which surrounds/contains Rochester) executive touting’Metro-Goevrnment, where the rich whitefolk in the burbs would have to subsidize the city. He was wupped. He lost 4-1 in some of the suburbs.
These homes were beautiful at one time. Now they look like crap. One
of them had a fire a few years ago. The fire actually improved the appearance of the house. Nearly all of them have broken windows and doors. I guess if someone else is paying for your home, you don't care.
The idea was to get low income people out of the slums and into better neighborhoods. But many of these people have turned these neighborhoods into the slums they once lived in.
I don’t see much to be concerned about other than the claim that Obama is going to do this. Federal Tax dollars are Federal Tax dollars. They always go to where Congress wants and the President gets what Congress gives him.
There has never been any expectation that just because your region produced x amount of Federal Tax Revenue that your region then gets x amount back in projects and programs.
City tax isn’t new either. New York’s been doing it for decades as far as I know.
Now I do get concerned about co-opting revenue from unincorporated suburbs, but don’t care about incorporated suburbs.
Usagi’s law of Lucrativity: The more lucrative your earnings, the more palm you see.
I’ve known Vegas Cocktail waitresses that earn over $500 a night but when all said and done, they only take home 1/3 of that.
Excellent. And the redistribution we see now is just a
bridge to what he really wants which is reparations. One
big check someday.
I would love to see Romney run an ad highlighting the “benefit” that cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland, and Chicago have gotten from 50+ years of liberal Democrat rule.
Imagine an ad called “Thank You.”
Open with shots of burned out buildings, homeless camps, soup kitchen lines, and union protests in the above mentioned cities.
Voiceover: “In this busy campaign season, we would like to take a moment to say a well-deserved ‘Thank You’ to the liberals who have been running these fine cities for the last 50 years.
Thank you for 20% unemployment... (photos of Detroit)
Thank you for a teacher’s union that cares more about its own perks than about giving our children a chance at a bright future. (photos of angry Chicago teachers)
Thank you for block after block of abandoned buildings that now serve as havens for drug dealers and derelicts.
Thank you for turning once proud American manufacturing cities into national laughingstocks (photos of cleveland)
Keep up the great work! Here’s to another 50 years of liberal rule!
Columbus is the exception. Cincinnati, Dayton and Cleveland are all surrounded by suburbs. I don't know about Akron, Canton, Youngstown or Toledo.
Dayton was notorious for annexing any businesses in nearby unincorporated areas because the entire township had no say - only the city and the people living in the area being annexed. The last couple townships finally incorporated to end that.
Where I live, the city has been charging an occupation tax to people who live in the suburbs, but work in the city.
Ohio is the opposite. Where you work gets the first cut and where you live usually gives you a credit for taxes paid where you work - but a few cities have started to limit that credit so you can pay for both. Currently I pay 1.5% where I work and an extra 0.75% (2.25% city rate - 1.5% credit) where I live. Fortunately my city credits the full amount paid elsewhere so I don't have to pay even more.
No, the real plan is to force people out of their suburbs back into the cities. This is the UN Agenda 21 in action.
Exactly. Everyone is going to live right on top of each other is some squalid, multicultural morass with Big Brother feeding and housing everyone. Scenes straight out of Blade Runner.