Three weeks ago, Stanley Kurtz warned that Democrats would strip suburban voters of control of their communities if Joe Biden wins in November. Kurtz urged Donald Trump to make the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule a key issue in the upcoming campaign, which if implemented according to Biden’s new plan would effectively “abolish the suburbs.” Highlighting this as an issue would force Democrats to either retreat from this attempt to put suburbs under urban control or lose the suburban voters that gave them their House majority.

After a few hints this month, Trump finally acted last night, Kurtz reports:

I am pleased to report that President Trump and Secretary Carson have together put an end to the Obama-Biden administration’s wildly radical Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. President Trump has delivered on this issue in a way that will preserve American liberty in general, and the freedom and self-government of America’s suburbs in particular.

There was simply no basis in the Fair Housing Act of 1968 for Obama-Biden’s vast AFFH project in social engineering. Since the passage of FHA, the idea of “affirmatively furthering fair housing” has been written into law, but even those later laws authorize nothing like the Obama-Biden overreach. It is a sign of the malady that besets our government that a statement originally intended to call forth vigilance against housing discrimination (“affirmatively furthering fair housing”) has been larded over with meanings it never contained: economic integration, hyper-dense “transit oriented development,” hostility to automobiles in the name of global warming, regional (rather than local) governance, and more.

Duly authorized by President Trump, Secretary Carson has swiftly taken steps to root out Obama’s radical rule, along with the bogus accretions that have developed over decades around the idea of “affirmatively furthering fair housing.” Many bemoan a so-called ratchet effect, in which government grows ever larger—or perhaps plateaus—but never gets smaller. Let this be an example to the public and to future presidents that the ratchet effect can be fought. …

Don’t doubt that all of that will change should Biden win this November. That would spell the return of the old AFFH, with turbo-charging. In fact, if the Dems take congress as well as the presidency the most radically anti-suburban aspects of AFFH will likely all be written into law. That means the new anti-suburban regime will only be undone if the Republicans retake both congress and the presidency down the road.

The issue with AFFH had already come to Carson’s attention; by January, HUD had outlined a detailed proposal for rolling it back. For some reason, though, the idea languished for months while Joe Biden embraced Cory Booker’s more radical policy proposals to expand it. It would have greatly increased the authority of cities and allowed them to seize tax revenue from the suburbs and impose all sorts of mandates on them, especially restrictions on single-family housing and requirements for public transportation over the use of cars.

Needless to say, this is hardly the year to argue for greater density. Not only do we have a viral pandemic ravaging higher-density population centers, we also have a collapse in leadership in several large cities, with riots an ongoing 2020 feature. This gives Trump and the GOP a big opening to make the 2020 election a referendum on self-determination for suburban communities along with the law-and-order pitch Trump is currently making.

As Kurtz predicted, mainstream outlets are taking notice — and sending up alarms over the move:

The White House plans to eliminate a sweeping Obama-era fair housing regulation on Thursday and replace it with a much weaker rule amid an effort by President Donald Trump to paint rival Joe Biden as a danger to the suburbs. …

Trump has hinted at the plan in recent weeks, casting the Obama rule as “devastating” for the suburbs. “The suburb destruction will end with us,” he said in a speech last week. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has pledged to restore the original version of the 2015 rule, which HUD suspended in 2018 when it drafted the revision.

Administration officials briefed select congressional staff on Wednesday on the new proposal, which will replace a rule requiring local governments to proactively track patterns of poverty and segregation with a checklist of 92 questions in order to gain access to federal housing funds. Critics decried the plan as costly and overly complicated.

This will almost certainly end up in court, probably next week at the latest. The administration used a waiver process in the Administrative Procedure Act to bypass a comment period, which will be the first point of attack for critics. A lawsuit will serve Trump’s purposes, though. The point of this change is to escalate it to the level of a top issue in the 2020 campaign, and a big court fight will make headlines and help Trump frame it as an existential issue for the suburbs. Which it will be, if Biden gets elected.

Will that sway voters in the suburbs away from Democrats, whom they embraced in the midterms? That will depend on how effectively Team Trump can message this. It’s a better argument than constantly highlighting Biden’s gaffes, which are amusing enough but don’t appear to be moving the needle on polling. This relates directly to policy too, which makes it a solid electoral issue and a potentially devastating one to House Democrats if it can be sold properly. We’ll know if those attacks start stinging if Democrats start accusing Trump of racism for going after the AFFH.