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Stanley Kurtz's Spreading the Wealth

Ronald Radosh

What Stanley Kurtz has accomplished in his new book Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, to be published on August 2, is nothing less than the complete exposure of President Barack Obama’s secret plans for his second term in office — plans that in reality amount to an assault on the values, well-being ,and quality of life of the very middle-class voters he claims to represent.

The unfortunate title—not an attention-grabber in bookstores—does not covey the breadth of his research, the scholarly yet readable and comprehensive analysis of where the president is coming from, and the nature of the social policy Obama will put into practice if he wins a second term. They amount to an entire gamut of initiatives, some well underway, to redistribute wealth not from the fabled 1%—who really do not have enough to save us from fiscal Armageddon even if the government took 80% of their profits—but from the average, middle-class, hardworking citizens who sought better lives and realized the American dream by moving to the suburbs, where the air is cleaner, the schools are decent, and life is peaceful and integrated.

These citizens are the very swing voters Obama is now courting; his many TV commercials about helping the middle class target them. What Kurtz reveals in chilling detail is that the group of radicals surrounding the president—names most of us (including me) are not familiar with—are nevertheless as dangerous and extreme in their goals as Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and Reverend Jeremiah Wright. While those three are persona non grata in the White House, these unknown radicals are just as important, and they are planning social policy with Obama’s approval.

Here are their names, and when Kurtz’s book is published, they will hopefully become household names and what they advocate will be there for anyone to see. They are: Mike Kruglik, Obama’s boss and his trainer when Obama was a community organizer in the 1980s; Myron Orfield, a University of Minnesota law professor; John Powell, a law professor at Ohio State University who believes America suffers from structural racism; David Rusk, a former mayor of Albuquerque, NM, who favors annexation of the suburbs by the cities; and Linda Darling-Hammond, a proponent of a politicized curriculum for schools, a close associate of Ayers, and a leader in the administration’s effort to create new national standards and tests for our schools.

If someone was to say that these people want nothing less than to destroy suburbs in America, you might think that this sounds too crazy to be any kind of real possibility. Yet this is their goal and their hope, motivated by the belief that the growth of the suburbs was not a result of the desire to spread out and lead a good life by people who wanted to realize the American dream, but instead was fueled by racism, greed, and a desire to benefit from exploiting poor minorities. Those making such arguments occupy what is called a “regionalist” movement, and they hope to attain their goal through programs like regional tax base sharing in which money previously held by suburban communities for the benefit of those who live in them will be taken and redistributed to nearby cities and poorer suburbs.

If Obama were honest, Kurtz says, he would say the following to the American people:

My fellow Americans, to be honest, I have some serious reservations about the way this country is structured. In America we have this strong bias toward individual action. … But individual actions, individual dreams are not sufficient. We must unite in collective action, build collective institutions and organizations. Locally those collective actions… have got to be pushed at the regional level in such a way as to unite small towns and suburbs with nearby cities. The whole federalist system, as the founders created it, is too geared toward John Wayne-style individualism. You pick up and move to a suburb in search of your American dream. But this leaves less well-off folks behind, so classic federalism extracts a price this country can no longer afford to pay. The only way to make certain this nation's wealth gets more equally divided among all Americans is to run our country more centrally. That way no one can pick up and take his tax money to another town, suburb, or state without sharing it with someone less fortunate. That's why I plan to do everything in my power to advance federal and regional control of America's tax money and especially of America's system of education, so as to eliminate the local differences upon which our long but troubled tradition of John Wayne-style individualism rests.

Of course, the president would never publicly say anything close to that because its radicalism is apparent and the outrage among the public would be overwhelming. Yet such a speech, Kurtz argues, is precisely what Obama actually promotes through a whole series of stealth programs largely fallen behind the radar but that will come in a second term. Of course, this is what sectarian Leninists do—and Obama is surrounded by such folks who came from the Chicago Old Left where they learned their tactics decades ago. Using Alinskyite measures and tactics meant to deceive, they implement policies that go over the heads of an unaware public who does not realize what is going on. You create the new social policy by bypassing Congress and hiding the measures in other programs—such as the stimulus, in which educational policy was included without any debate.

All of these measures were discussed in a major White House conference held on July 18, 2011, at an event not covered by the press and never given any publicity. Featuring Obama’s old mentor Kruglik, the movement to destroy the suburbs as the way to transform America by redistributing tax monies to the cities was the very topic of discussion. It is part of programs such as the Sustainable Communities Initiative, and to be run through the group set up by Kruglik, Building One America.

By showing what this group proposes and how Kruglik hopes to implement its plans, Kurtz ties together Obama’s past radicalism with his present-day actions. He has brought into the White House a group of radicals who are as extreme as Ayers and Dohrn, but who don’t have their negative name recognition. The essence of all the programs, described in detail by Kurtz, is to distribute money from the wealthy suburbs to the urban poor, a fulfillment of his long dream to destroy the suburbs, areas he thought of as a bastion of racism and individualism.

Obama, Kurtz shows, is running an active Alinskyite program in the present, not simply in the 1980s. It is a radicalism of a hidden, regionalist agenda, carefully kept below the radar, something that its exponents actually brag about. The programs waiting to be implemented actually are “nothing less,” Kurtz writes, “than a direct attack on large sections of his own middle-class supporters.” Building One America (an Orwellian name if there ever was one) is actually a movement to create forced equality of income, with the end result that everyone’s standard of living will fall. But it will promote “social justice,” of course, and real equality. It is, in essence, the dream of a left-wing social democracy in America, a new variant of the cradle-to-grave welfare state so adoringly favored by the inner group of Obama’s activist advisors.

In a masterful chapter on Saul Alinsky and his heritage, Kurtz has written what is perhaps the best account of what Alinsky’s tactics actually mean for Obama. As Kurtz writes: “Alinsky’s ideological reticence, his pragmatic gradualism in the service of hard-left goals, and his intentionally polarizing confrontation tactics have profoundly shaped both President Obama and the regionalist crusade he supports.” All of his original Alinsky mentors from the ’80s include people still with Obama today, such as Jerry Kellman, Mike Kruglik, and Greg Galluzzo — who worked first through the Gamaliel Foundation and today through One America — make up “the grassroots muscle behind the regionalist crusade.” So Kurtz concludes:

One America and the Obama administration is the ultimate example of this post-Alinsky turn by organizers to close alliances with politicians.

Obama, in true Alinskyite fashion, moves slowly from the ground up, to build redistributionist programs in a slow fashion, in order to prevent public opposition. Finally, in a brilliant chapter Kurtz titles “A Suburb of the Mind,” he shows how even in Obama’s own memoir, Dreams from My Father, the future president gave us much indication of his hostility to a middle-class lifestyle and suburbia, and his preference to make policy exclusively on behalf of the urban poor. When Obama funded projects through the Woods Fund in Chicago, he gave economic support to his old community-organizer buddies and their new regionalist projects whose purpose, Kurtz writes, “was to run a class warfare campaign of agitation designed to expose the suburban American dream as a product of racism and greed.” Then through tax redistribution, new urban growth boundaries, and low-income housing quotas, the suburbs would in reality cease to exist.

By exposing Obama’s hidden radical programs, carried out under the radar and developed by hard-left ideologues, Kurtz has in fact given serious analysts of his programs the evidence needed to reveal that the goal is forced income equality. America, in other words, could become the First World’s very first model of a backwards looking Third World nation, such as Communist Cuba. By uncovering the reality of the White House’s secret program to destroy the suburbs—as crazy as that sounds—Kurtz has written a book that will throw a virtual monkey-wrench into Obama’s plans. The nation stands in his gratitude.

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