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Obama’s ‘Promise Zones’ Picked For Their Strategic Value To Democratic Party

January 9, 2014 by  

President Barack Obama designated five areas Thursday as Economic Promise Zones: three in cities, one in rural Kentucky and one on the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma – and nearly all of them offer Democrats stronger political inroads with resistant local voters.

Obama described the ‘Zones as places where kids would, with the Federal government’s help, have the same opportunities to realize the American Dream as kids in more affluent parts of the country.

“They’re neighborhoods where we will help local efforts to meet one National goal: that a child’s course in life should be not by the ZIP code she’s born in, but by the strength of her work ethic and the scope of her dreams,” the President said.

The cities selected for the first zones are Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Antonio, while the Kentucky zone covers a multicounty region in the southeastern Highlands area. Obama said the program will be expanded to 20 locations Nationwide during the next three years.

“And each of these communities is designing from the bottom up – not the top down – what it is they think they need, and we’re working with them to make that happen,” he said. “And each of these communities is prepared to do what it takes to change the odds for their kids.”

The president said the idea was born from his own experience as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side and on the work of people like Geoffrey Canada, who formed the Harlem Children’s Zone.

As Breitbart observed Thursday, most of the five announced locations have “interesting connections” that suggest their selection wasn’t arbitrary, nor solely based on the President’s altruistic desire to end poverty:

One of the main priorities in the 2014 election for Democrats is unseating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), so Southeastern Kentucky, where the voters are heavily GOP, is a target which may allow Democrats to make some inroads.

San Antonio’s targeted district is the home of Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro, the twin brother of San Antonio mayor Julian Castro who is marked as a future star for the Party. That district, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, is only scoring a D+3, so Joaquin Castro could be in trouble.

Although Philadelphia is a Democratic stronghold, there are three suburbs nearby where GOP incumbents may be replaced by Democratic opponents: the Sixth and Eighth, which are both R+1, and the Seventh which is a tossup.

Oklahoma’s Second District is one of the five Promise Zones, and it includes the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Obama has been trying to reach out to the Choctaw nation for some time; Deborah Powell, Native American Development Specialist for the Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, was a guest in Michelle Obama’s box for Obama’s 2010 State of the Union Address.

The “Promise Zone” program will be administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and will dangle tax incentives and grants in front of the selected communities in order to create a dependence partnership between local government, businesses and agencies and the Federal government “to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities, and improve public safety.”

The UPI contributed to this report.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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