President Donald Trump warned again Thursday that Democrats want to destroy American suburbs – a blatant attempt to sway White suburban voters while stoking racial divisions.
In remarks on the South Lawn, Trump claimed Washington Democrats want to assume control of local zoning decisions and attacked a rule meant to combat segregation, a move he said would “obliterate” suburbs.
In his remarks, Trump harkened back to old arguments against integrating neighborhoods, saying the rules put a damper on property values and cause crime rates to increase.
“Your home will go down in value and crime rates will rapidly rise,” he said. “Joe Biden and his bosses from the radical left want to significantly multiply what they’re doing now and what will be the end result is you will totally destroy the beautiful suburbs. Suburbia will be no longer as we know it.”
The event at which Trump was speaking was meant as a showcase of his first term deregulatory efforts, but like several recent official events, it took on the air of a campaign production. Trump stood between two pickup trucks, a blue one weighed down with mock weights representing regulations and a red one unburdened from its weights with a large crane adorned with a “Trump Administration” banner.
Past presidents have sought to draw a distinction between official and political business, and traditionally the White House’s lawyers ensure the lines aren’t crossed. But Trump has paid those distinctions little mind and injects politics into practically every set of public remarks he delivers.
The President’s political advisers have watched with concern as polls show support for him softening among suburban women, including those without college degrees – in part because of his divisive views on race – according to people familiar with the matter.
Seeking to shore up his standing in the suburbs, Trump turned to issues of fair housing and zoning on Thursday.
Part of Trump’s argument is based on an Obama-era federal fair housing law meant to combat segregation, which he has claimed is having a “devastating impact” on suburbs. Trump said in his remarks he would be discussing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule in greater detail next week.
That mandate was enacted in 2015 as a way to bolster the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which outlawed restrictions on selling or renting homes to people based on race (and which Trump and his father were accused in a federal civil rights case of violating in 1973).
Despite the Fair Housing Act being in effect for decades, many neighborhoods still remained segregated, with communities of color less likely to have access to good schools, health care and public programs necessary to help citizens rise out of poverty. AFFH was considered essential to further level the playing field for underprivileged populations.
In its official definition of the rule, the Department of Housing and Urban Development says AFFH is designed “to take meaningful actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination.”
The rule required communities that receive federal funding to submit assessments and analyses on their fair housing practices, which advocates of the rule say are necessary to hold them accountable for upholding the Fair Housing Act.
The Trump administration had already said in 2018 it was delaying implementation of the AFFH rule, part of its larger efforts to dismantle the legacy left by President Barack Obama. At the time, HUD cast the decision as part of its broader efforts to reexamine rules left over from the previous administration.
In his remarks, Trump also went after a Biden proposal to reassess zoning laws, which he said would “destroy the value of houses in communities already built.”
“People have worked the whole lives to get into a community and now they’re going to watch it go to Hell. Not going to happen. Not while I’m here,” he said.
The blatant politicking extended beyond Trump’s comments on the suburbs; he also attacked Biden for his environmental proposals and over police reform.
At one point, he assailed water preservation rules, claiming they made life harder.
“Dishwashers, you didn’t have any water so the people that do the dishes, you press it and it goes again and you do it again and again,” he said. “So, we made it so dishwashers now have a lot more water.”
Later he complained about Democratic proposals that would require new homes to reduce emissions, “destroying the look of the home, the beauty of the home.”
“I’m somebody that’s built many homes, many buildings. When you take a look at this, it doesn’t look good,” he mused.
The event, while less incoherent than Trump’s appearance earlier this week in the Rose Garden, was nonetheless a political affair as he attacked Biden by name and warned that Democrats would turn the country into a “socialist nightmare.”
Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany dismissed a question about whether the President’s use of the White House for political events was appropriate.
“Your real problem was the fact that the President gave a very good powerful speech from the Rose Garden,” she said.