Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 1122, Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act.  Question: On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass (2/3 vote required).

Result:  Passed, 387 to 22, 22 not voting. GOP and Democrats scored.

Freedom First Society: The Housing and Urban Development Department was a product of the President Johnson’s Great Society program and part of that great expansion of socialist spending. That egregious unconstitutional federal intervention desperately needs to be reversed.  Instead, this voucher mobility program supports that intervention.

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

Bill Summary:  The Congressional Research Service (CRS) prepared this summary of H.R. 1122, as introduced in the House:

“This bill authorizes the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement a mobility demonstration program to enable public housing agencies (PHAs) to administer housing-choice rental-assistance vouchers in a manner designed to (1) encourage low-income families receiving such assistance to move to lower-poverty areas, and (2) expand access to opportunity areas.

“HUD shall require PHAs applying to participate in the program to submit a specified Regional Housing Mobility Plan.”

Analysis:  H.R. 1122 attempts to help those living in public housing in poverty areas move to better environments.  But what we really have here is another case of socialists creating the poison and the antidote in the same laboratory. Let’s look at some background.

“Great Society” Background
In 1964, President Johnson started his administration by launching a massive program of federal spending to build what he termed the “Great Society.”   The Great Society would greatly encourage state and individual dependence on Washington.

The rubber-stamp Democratic Congress gave the President practically everything he asked for, setting new records in deficit spending.   And government became the biggest growth area in the nation.  By 1966 “one worker in six [was] employed by federal, state, or local government, compared with one in seven in 1955, and one in nine back in 1948.”

And those figures did not include workers in private industry who owed their jobs to government spending or to those who depended on the government for welfare and benefit income.  Of course, huge federal borrowing was required to finance this federal “generosity.”

President Johnson also launched his “War on Poverty.” Rather than a war on poverty, the president’s proposal amounted to a war of poverty.  Despite a half-century of federal war on poverty programs and public housing, poverty is now worse than ever.   That should be no surprise as socialism doesn’t fix poverty, it just spreads it around.

But the Great Society would do even more damage through its assault on the Constitution.  When the Department of Housing and Urban Development was created in 1966, the Arizona Republic protested:

“Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution give the federal government any control over urban affairs….

“Scarcely a week passes but some city or county department head goes from Phoenix to Washington to get the answer to a problem which, a few years ago, would have been solved in city hall or the court house.”

Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party leader, declared that he did not need to run for president in 1964, because Lyndon Johnson was carrying out his program.  Regarding the Johnson “War on Poverty” program, Thomas declared:  “I ought to rejoice and I do. I rub my eyes in amazement and surprise. His war on poverty is a Socialistic approach and may be the major issue of the 1964 campaign.”

Today, there are approximately 1.2 million low-income households living in public housing units, managed by some 3,300 housing agencies. The agencies are funded by the Housing and Urban Development Department.

Promotion of H.R. 1122
H.R. 1122 is championed by Rep. Maxine Waters (see below), one of the most left-wing Democrats in Congress.  As Rep. Waters explains: “This is a bipartisan proposal that was included in HUD budget requests under the Obama administration.”

What should alarm many conservatives is how many Republicans embrace this entrenched business-as-usual socialism.

From the Congressional Record (3-11-19) [Emphasis added]:

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Chair, Financial Services Committee:  “Mr. Speaker, rigorous studies have demonstrated that giving a low-income family an opportunity to move to a lower-poverty neighborhood  can have a profound impact, particularly for children….

“Unfortunately, families with housing choice vouchers who want to move to a better neighborhood can face significant challenges, particularly if it involves moving from one public housing agency jurisdiction to another….

“Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1122 would help reduce barriers to mobility by establishing a demonstration program that would enable and incentivize public housing agencies to come together to come up with a regional plan to increase mobility across their jurisdictions.

This is a bipartisan proposal that was included in HUD budget requests under the Obama administration. Further, $25 million in  funding for this demonstration was included in fiscal year 2019 funding bill for HUD programs [see our analysis of H.J.Res. 31, House Roll Call 87], and a version of this bill passed the House last Congress 368 to 19.   This demonstration will not only provide thousands of families with  opportunities to move to better neighborhoods, but it will also lay the foundation for how successful outcomes can be replicated at a larger scale across the country.”

Freedom First Society: The problem Rep. Waters wants the federal government to solve (the difficulty in “moving from one public housing jurisdiction to another”) is the result of fed-gov’s support for public housing.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri), member, Financial Services Committee: “And let us not forget that location also affects adults in many ways, such as access to jobs, the cost of getting to work, the feasibility of  balancing child care responsibilities with work schedules, and other  basic goods and services.  Voucher mobility is key to enabling families with children to move to safer neighborhoods with less poverty, thereby enhancing their chances of long-term health and success.”

Freedom First Society:  Here Rep. Luetkemeyer illustrates the lack of respect for constitutional limits among Republicans.  America’s Founding Fathers would have been appalled at the notion that the federal government should concern itself with such matters as “balancing child care responsibilities with work schedules.”

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, (D-Missouri), member, Financial Services Committee: “Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation is particularly  significant to me. I lived in public housing for 5 years. I saw what  the possibilities were there. I saw people who did not make it, and I  saw people who did make it.  The one thing that I found difficult to accept was the fact that if you lived in public housing, almost every rule made was designed, unintentionally, to keep you in public housing….

“The essence of this bill was passed as a part of the appropriations  package that was signed into law earlier this year [see our analysis of H.J.Res. 31, House Roll Call 87]. It promotes housing mobility for individuals who rely on housing vouchers….

“There is something contagious about working around only poor people.  If you live in a neighborhood and all you see are people who are struggling, it is easy to come to the conclusion that that is the way  life is: that you are just supposed to struggle and that you are just supposed to barely make it. If you don’t see the signs of people who  are making progress — people who are achieving — you might come to the conclusion that achievement is beyond one’s reach….

“This bill removes barriers by providing families with the tools to  navigate a move from one neighborhood to another. H.R. 1122 will allow more families to thrive by increasing their access to higher performing  schools, employment opportunities, fresh and affordably priced foods, and safe playgrounds.”

Freedom First Society:  Rep. Cleaver’s story would seem to be an admission against interest — an indictment of the failure of both the federal government’s “war on poverty” and its public housing programs.

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