Why the Congressional Dems' Attack on ACORN Is an Attack On Us All

Here's a quick run-down on what I see as six of the principle evils involved in this heinous act.

When the congressional Democrats joined the Republicans in attacking ACORN and cutting off its funding--without even the pretense of an investigation to establish a rational basis for their actions--they clearly demonstrated the almost utter meaninglessness of electing a Democratic majority over the past two wave elections.  The elections were clearly important in terms of removing the GOP from direct power, so that it's worst abuses were either ended or toned down.

But clearly nothing remotely resembling actual Democratic governance has emerged to take it's place.  And this vote was a stark, harrowing reminder of how politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum: if you don't have a positive agenda, you will end up voting for any sort of stupid, evil shit that comes down the line, if the stampede factor is high enough. Or, to put it more bluntly: If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.  So here's a quick run-down on what I see as six of the principle evils involved in this heinous act.  I invite everyone to add to my list in comments.

(1) Screw The Poor, Part 1: The defunding directly takes money away from the leading organization involved in helping low and moderate income keep their homes.  ACORN's been getting around $3 million a year to do this kind of work--counseling low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

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As Zach Roth reported for TPMMuckraker:


Whatever you think about ACORN, poor people and minorities may end up being hurt the most by Congress's sudden vendetta against the group....

According to Brian Kettenring, ACORN's deputy director of national operations, the group's voter-registration work is funded entirely through private sources -- primarily membership dues and foundation grants. So that work would be unaffected.

The same goes for ACORN's core operations -- the rent on its offices, for instance.

In recent years, ACORN has been getting around $2-3 million in federal funds annually, said Kettenring, stressing that this was a rough estimate. That's about 10 percent of its total budget for the year.

That money goes mostly to housing work: primarily fair housing programs, which fight housing discrimination; and foreclosure-prevention programs, which help low-income people obtain loan modifications so they don't lose their homes, and which educate people about preventing foreclosure.

Important work these days, you might say. Losing federal funds, said Kettenring, "would impact our ability to help people save their home."

In other words, ACORN itself, said Kettenring, won't be hurt much by Congress's action. It's the people who ACORN works with -- who tend to be among the neediest -- who will lose out.

To be sure, it's fair to question how effective those programs ultimately are....

But it's not as if the federal money will now go to a different group that does this work more effectively. So the ultimate result, of course, is less help for struggling Americans, in very difficult economic times. As members of both parties compete to express their outrage, that's worth keeping in mind.

In contrast, the top-tier financial firms have received more than $10 trillion in various forms of financial assistance from the government--a sum that's over 3 million times the annual $3 million that ACORN has received.  Any quetions?

(2) Screw The Poor, Part 2: Cutting back on voter registration for minority and low-income voters.  The federal funds have nothing to do with this, but as Roth also notes:


Late Update: A different ACORN spokesman tells the Wall Street Journal that the group is considering cutting its voter-registration work. That's not because of any funding issue. Rather, it's a desire to avoid "political attacks."

Of course, the GOP has been fighting to suppress minority voters for more than half a century.  So, way to go, congressional Democrats!  Of course, since they don't really care very much about passing legislation, it's really not a very big deal to them.  That's why they are the enemy every bit as much as the Republicans are.



Paul Rosenberg is a regular blogger for Open Left