Democrats & Liberals Archives

Obama's Urban Policy

I hear so much that Obama is an unknown and we do not know his policies. I think he has told us in great detail how he would operate as president. As the latest example, Barack Obama has put together a complete urban policy plan, which is probably in greater detail than any presidential candidate to date.

The complete plan is presented at Barack Obama's website. Briefly, Obama will create an urban policy group that reports directly to the president:

Obama will create a White House Office of Urban Policy to develop a strategy for metropolitan America and to ensure that all federal dollars targeted to urban areas are effectively spent on the highest-impact programs. The Director of Urban Policy will report directly to the president and coordinate all federal urban programs.

The announcement then defines the major areas of concern for the urban policy group:

  • Strengthen Federal Commitment to our Cities
  • Stimulate Economic Prosperity in our Metropolitan Regions
  • Housing
  • Poverty
  • Urban Education
  • Crime and Law Enforcement
  • Strengthen Homeland Security
  • Support Families
For each area it presents the tasks in fairly decent detail. Read the whole thing.

As far as I know, John McCain has no urban plan. Ask him why not?

Obama has similar position papers on all the major issues of the day. It's easy to find out what he stands for and what he will do as president. Just visit his website.

Posted by Paul Siegel at June 11, 2008 5:13 PM
Comment #255232

Paul, I read the whole thing as suggested. I found 43 ideas presented with at least three-fourths or more calling for more spending. Some programs show a price tag and others don’t. I found a rather sparse two listings of Obama’s achievements in government.

All these new spending ideas from a man with two achievements portrayed. What’s the deal? I am awed by his ability to spend other people’s money, but where is the expertise and experience for doing so?

Obama will fulfill the porker’s dream of nearly unlimited ways to pander for votes with taxpayer money. I now understand more fully what he means by “change”. He wants federal government control in every city and hamlet in the U.S.

Obama seems determined that no life will be free from government regulations and direction.

Death destruction and despair, people crying everywhere. I can fix it let’s be “Fair”. Elect Obama, get your share.

Posted by: Jim M at June 11, 2008 6:11 PM
Comment #255240

Uh.. umm isn’t that a matter that should be handeled by each individual state at their own level? I mean why do we have states or state level goverments if we are going to do their job for them?

Sure have a big conference and sing songs and roast marshmellows but a fix in New York city would not be a fix in Pittsburgh or Tampa.

Posted by: Rhancheck at June 11, 2008 7:32 PM
Comment #255247

The ” Obama ” Policy as follow’s…..

1. Will raise ” Taxe’s ” on everything !
2. Amnesty for all ” I’llegal’s !
3. Socialised ” Health-Care ” !
4. Supreme Court ” Justices ” who legislate from
the bench !
5. Open ” Border’s ” !
6. Oppease ” Tyrrant’s, ” and have dialogue
without pre-Condition’s !
7. No ” Experience ” period !

This “Country” deserve’s way “Better” than
Anything this “MAN” could ever offer.

Posted by: j.i.m. at June 11, 2008 8:26 PM
Comment #255250

Yes Paul, Just what we need more government interference our lives. How does he plan to pay for all his big ideas? By taxing corporations so they all move overseas? I guess that’s what he means by CHANGE!

Posted by: KAP at June 11, 2008 8:44 PM
Comment #255252

Paul, sounds like this agency will create a lot of tension between the pork barrel spenders in Congress looking to bring home the bacon through this Office of Urban Policy, and Obama who intends to observe PAYGO and veto pork spending.

I am all for his plan to create an oversight arm that prioritizes the billions already being spent on local and state government needs. But, there will be tensions in ranks of Congress against responsible oversight, from both Republicans and Democrats.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 11, 2008 9:23 PM
Comment #255254

Uh, yeh urban policy. Our cities are bastions of liberalism and home to a huge portion of the Democratic base. This is just another example of the same ol same ol from a candidate who says he’s all about change.

Sorry, but when I go to urban areas I already contribute via extremely high parking fees, hotel taxes, toll roads, etc. I just don’t feel the need to send anymore money their way.

Posted by: George in SC at June 11, 2008 10:09 PM
Comment #255258

George in SC, your comment sounds like that of a person in the majority Party who just got booted to the minority Party. Perhaps if you had demanded more from your Party, your party would still be in the majority.

My advice to Democrats is to follow Obama’s clean up government campaign, and hold him accountable to pursuing it. Or, face the same fate as Republicans in 2006 and 2008.

What R’s and D’s have to bear in mind is that they are both minority Party’s now. Independent voters who will kick either of their asses out of office now outnumber registered D’s or R’s. Both parties would do well to act the role, and try harder as number 2.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 11, 2008 10:36 PM
Comment #255259

The federal government has been doing urban policy since, at least, the Watts riots in the 1960’s. Conditions for those who live in the inner cities are as bad now, if not worse, than they were then in many way’s, drugs, prostitution, drive by shootings, lack of meaniful opportunity and loss of hope.

Some of the things that we can be certain of in any new legislation is that there will be plenty of opportunities for the people who really count to line their pockets at taxpayer expense, the bureaucracy will get a bigger slice of the pie and those for whom the legislation is supposedly intended to help will be at the bottom of the list when the handouts are made.

Posted by: jlw at June 11, 2008 10:38 PM
Comment #255261

When I think of urban policy, it remindes me of my aunt and uncle who, like nearly every white American, fled the inner city for the subburbs in the 1950’s and 60’s. They left every thing behind except their jobs, then bitched constantly about having to pay taxes to the city to keep it alive.

Posted by: jlw at June 11, 2008 10:49 PM
Comment #255263

Sorry, Let me try that again. They took everything with them except their jobs then bitched about paying taxes to the city on their daily commute to their job.

Posted by: jlw at June 11, 2008 10:56 PM
Comment #255292


Are you sure they left no child behind? Sorry, it was there. Someone had to say it. Just a silly joke.

But wasn’t white flight why there is “Urban Policy”?

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 12, 2008 8:21 AM
Comment #255299

It is worse than I thought. Obama is doing the great society. Remember that Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty and poverty won and took our cities are reparations.

Since 1980, many urban centers have come back. You might actually choose to live in NYC or Washington now. IF we go back to the war on poverty, we will recreate the condtions that near killed our cities in the 1960s and 1970s.

Obama can throw all the money he wants (or can get us to pay in taxes) and all he will do is fatten the wallets of urban activists and create more dependency. Maybe that is exactly what his liberal supporters want. The poor vote for the hand that SEEMS to feed them and/or created them.


White flight was the logical response to a policy that created crime and wrecked schools. I graduated from an urban school in 1973. It was the same school my mother graduated from in 1943 and the one my relatives went to since 1918. Liberal policies destroyed the place in the 1970s. I would never let my kids go there now.

It wasn’t “white flight” BTW. Anybody who could afford it moved away from the scene of the crimes.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2008 9:51 AM
Comment #255309

Jack: For someone who claims to be a historian, you sure can distort history. White flight had far more to do with suburban development that than urban development. Cities, since their creation, have never been picnic areas. They have always had their wealthy communities, their middle income and their poor communities.

The development of the suburbs, better road systems and more and better transportation led to most of the white flight.

In addition, the cities were surrounded by small communities or towns both ethnic and minority that were by passed and cut off by the the new highway systems, many of which were eventually destroyed by the development of shopping malls. By 1970, most of the damage had been done and yes, just about anyone who could was trying to get out then.

Posted by: jlw at June 12, 2008 12:51 PM
Comment #255338

Urban centers have different needs, but the older ones mostly need immigrants from overseas or migrants from Suburbia or other places within the United States.

Posted by: ohrealy at June 12, 2008 5:34 PM
Comment #255366


Well, at least you get your facts right. Jack gets his history wrong, again. White flight did have a lot to do with road systems, and suburban development, but mostly it was named such because it was whites escaping urban blight and poverty that they perceived as a black problem. This began in the fifties with Levitt towns. Developers built because they knew a market existed. Idyllic white neighborhoods with grassy yards beckoned. Far from integrated schools. Once the economic base left, Urban planning began attempts at revitalizing urban centers. Some successfully, some not.

Did you ever wonder why the 70’s TV show supposedly based in 50’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin had no black characters?

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 12, 2008 8:56 PM
Comment #255367

Oops, I was referring to “Happy Days”

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 12, 2008 8:57 PM
Comment #255368

Jack, what part of racism and violence in the inner cities of America in the 1950’s and 1960’s do you not get?

White Flight was precisely what its name implies. As minorities continued their near century long flight from the Confederate Flag waving South, the Northern and many Western inner cities grew with less educated and less skilled people of color, and with job descrimination being what it was, White Folks could better afford to flee the rising the racial tensions and increasing poverty of the inner cities of the late 1960’s that saw riots from the East Coast to the West in urban centers.

The incessant drain on discretionary spending caused by the Viet Nam War occupied LBJ and prevented his ever implementing the Great Society in the way he had hoped. The Great Society was never funded, and then came Nixon whose interest in the inner cities was nil, and care for minorities even less, and his passion for young people was nearly all on the hate side.

The best city to tackle urban problems was the one that integrated fully its income groups in single neighborhoods rather than segregating neighborhoods by income class, and their revitalization efforts by buying up and closing off land that would have become other city’s suburbs, forced industry to reinvest in the urban environment with enormous success.

Portland’s plan was not perfect nor perfectly achieved. Sprawl continued but at a very much reduced rate. But Portland remains an example that stands heads above others in its successes, and better by far in its failings, to achieve a true empirically researched approach to urban problems plaguing the nation’s cities in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

What has always been lacking in our urban environments is sound urban planning based on sound sociological research and demonstrations of success. In other words, the design of our urban environments have been left to capitalist developers who never picked up a sociology book in their life, let alone read it. Big mistake, HUGE! And our county and city councils were no more educated nor urban planning saavy than the developers themselves, save a few.

When local elections are about electability and tenure in politics and party affiliation instead of knowledge and experience in the academics of urban environments and sociological research on the economics therein, urban planning does not exist. Only profit planning by developers and politicians scratching each other’s backs.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 12, 2008 8:58 PM
Comment #255430

“Did you ever wonder why the 70’s TV show supposedly based in 50’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin had no black characters?”
Posted by: googlumpugus at June 12, 2008 08:56 PM

No goog, I didn’t. And I never wondered why “All in the family” had black characters”. Did you? Some of those 70’s sitcoms were the best ever produced. I didn’t see any regular black characters on the “Dick Van Dyke” show, “The Honeymooners” “I love Lucy” or the “Mary Tyler Moore” show either. Are you suggesting this was some kind of racial conspiracy? Another of my favorite shows was “Amos and Andy” and there were precious few regular white characters on that show.

I grew up in Wisconsin in the 40’s and 50’s and didn’t see my first black person until I was nearly 16 years old. My home town wasn’t Milwaukee, but even Milwaukee didn’t have a significant black population at that time. Why would a TV show feel obligated to portray blacks in a sitcom that reflected the reality of that period of time in that particular city?

Many folks feel so guilty about our racial past that they can’t enjoy a simple TV show without perceiving some kind of racism. Guilt seems to be a pervasive attribute of liberals today and they wish to salve their conscious by trying to make everyone genuflect at their alter of political correctness.

Happiness my friend is an inside job and not dependent upon the acts or omissions of others. I suggest you heal yourself before you attempt to heal others.

Posted by: Jim M at June 13, 2008 1:00 PM
Comment #255455

My point, Jim M., was exactly that.

Wisconsin was largely white and slow to respond to integration. It took a federal judge in 1976 to integrate Milwaulkee’s schools, unlike Jack’s faulty memory. Jack didn’t have to deal with an integrated society. It didn’t exist in Wisconsin. Blacks began to move to Wisconsin in post WWII, but were segregated in housing, jobs and education leading to riots in 1963. Wisconsin, outside of the metropolitan areas, is STILL as white as snow. That’s why Jack’s post is completely bogus. You never saw blacks because of segregation that exists there to this day, though not nearly to the same degree.

I have never lived there, but I have visited. The same could be said of suburban Ohio, where I grew up.

It is my understanding that Jack grew up in Wisconsin, as well.

The “decline” in Wisconsin wasn’t due to revitalization attempts at Urban planning, but rather white flight. Urban planning was a response to that, in Milwaulkee and other cities. Once the middle class and wealthy left so did their economic impact. I read recently where someone did a study of cell phones. It showed people largely travel within a 5 mile radius every day.

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 13, 2008 4:01 PM
Comment #255458

BTW, Milwaulkee is about 15% black today. Wisconsin is about 5%.

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 13, 2008 4:07 PM
Comment #255463

David R. Remer: You correctly identified two of the culprits which are the primary cause of past urban policy failures. IMO, government bureaucracy is the third member of the triad. Bureaucrats always find a way to get their cut. They will need more people to handle the new mandates and likely new buildings to hold the increase in people.

I am going to make several assumptions.

I have looked at Obama’s policy but, haven’t gotten into all the nuts and bolts of it.

I am assuming that his policy contains language pertaining to “sound urban planning based on sound sociological research and demonstrations of success.”

I am going to assume that if one were to look at past urban policies by previous administrations and Congress, one would find similar language as that in Obama’s policy.

My next assumpion is going to be very unpopular with many. I am going to assume that Obama’s sweetheart developer in Chicago has plans to benefit considerably from Obama’s urban policy.

I am going to assume that, as in the past, liberal intellectualism, like a ripe tomato, is going to once again, be bashed against the wall of capitalist/politico/bureaucratic reality.

I am assuming that Obama will be the next president, based on the fact that the Republicans have nominated an old whatever who’s idea of an election strategy is to travel the country wearing a George Bush mask while waving an American flag in one hand and an Israeli flag in the other.

Posted by: jlw at June 13, 2008 4:50 PM
Comment #255482

DRRemer, I’m just curious about your use of this phrase “profit planning by developers and politicians scratching each other’s backs”. Did you intend for this to refer to Rezko and BHO, and hope someone would bring that up, or was it a slip of the fingers? Many people in Chicago have been concerned about gentrification, bringing with it increased property taxes, from developers who have built thousands of townhouses in former industrial, commercial, and low income housing districts. BHO has been the Urban Redevelopers dream candidate.

Posted by: ohrealy at June 13, 2008 7:07 PM
Comment #255499


You mean the developer going to jail? Will this be before or after his jail term?

Urban development isn’t meant to be a cure for poverty. It does revitalize Urban property. The extent to which low income housing can be interspersed through the city rather than concentrated, has positive effects on poverty, but doesn’t cure it alone.

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 13, 2008 11:11 PM
Comment #270183

I´ve been following Obama´s ideas and proposals for urban policy these months. I do not really know the institucional role this Office will have but I can see it as a good platform to stablish a multi-level dialogue from Federal administration and local-metropolitan levels. Let´s keep track on the final responsible for the office.

Posted by: Manu Fernandez at November 12, 2008 6:31 AM
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