From tiny acorns, mighty government debacles grow. House GOP Leader John Boehner on Monday rightly sounded the alarm over billions in stimulus tax dollars that could potentially go to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). But the Republican leadership has only scratched the surface over what amounts to a bottomless slush fund for a bigger coalition of housing entitlement thugs.
ACORN, you may recall, is the left-wing activist group with longtime ties to community organizer-turned-President Barack Obama. The nonprofit, which now takes in 40 percent of its revenues from American taxpayers after four decades on the public teat, has a history of engaging in voter fraud, corporate shakedowns, partisan bullying and pro-illegal immigration lobbying. The Democrats' stimulus proposals could make the group -- and its lesser known but even more radical ideological allies -- eligible for upward of $5 billion in new public cash.
Talk about subsidizing failure. These are the same activists that helped sow the seeds of the subprime meltdown. They aggressively played the race card and pressured banks to loosen standards, throw out down payments and lend to some of the nation's riskiest borrowers. Now, these mobs protest across the country, disrupt foreclosure auctions, threaten bank executives and accuse lenders of, yep, racism for lending to those riskiest of borrowers.
The stimulus slush fund for these housing entitlement thugs is innocuously dubbed the "Community Development Fund" in the House version of the stimulus bill. Some $4.19 billion would be "used for neighborhood stabilization activities related to emergency assistance for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes." The legislation changes the way the fund would be disbursed and loosens lobbying restrictions.
Previously, affordable housing groups applying for the grants would be vetted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or state and local government agencies. Under the stimulus bill, as nonprofit watchdog Matthew Vadum points out, the middlemen would be eliminated -- "making it easier to get Uncle Sam's largess directly into the hands of the same people who run ACORN's various vote fraud and extortion rackets." Moreover, Vadum reports, "the legislative package provides these funds without the usual prohibition on using government money for lobbying or political activities."
ACORN denied this week that it had lobbied for this booty. But it is the largest and most obvious beneficiary. ACORN is the granddaddy of foreclosure prevention/housing redevelopment lobbyists listed on the U.S. Department of Treasury website. Over the last month, its members have held neighborhood protests in New York, Wilmington, Albany, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Durham, Flint, Miami, Minnesota, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Tucson and St. Louis. Keeping people who shouldn't have received loans in houses they can't afford across the country is their bread and butter.
If not ACORN, then who? Next in line for the stimulus windfall is the Massachusetts-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA). Founder Bruce Marks proudly calls himself a "bank terrorist." As I reported last spring, Marks threatened to march into the neighborhoods of bank executives and bully their children. He's done it for years, all under the guise of "social justice" and "neighborhood stabilization."
Marks' agenda is blatantly political and personally lucrative. NACA -- with dozens of offices across the country -- has a no down payment, no closing costs, low interest rate policy for low-income minority borrowers and takes a hefty fee for each transaction. NACA loan applicants are then required to attend workshops that indoctrinate them in the group's protest thuggery.
The NACA recruits serve on, you guessed it, "Neighborhood Stabilization Committees." Those whose loans are approved must then pledge to assist the stabilization committees in five "actions" (like the spring 2008 mob protest at Bear Stearns' New York headquarters) per year. It's an endless cycle of demonstrations on the front end (to get the loans) and the back end (to prevent foreclosures on bad loan risks) and back again in an endless loop. These shakedowns have yielded nearly $10 billion in payoffs from capitulating corporate giants Citigroup and Bank of America.
Do lawmakers really want to sign on to this self-perpetuating government racket and self-proclaimed bank terrorism? Insanity, the old saw goes, is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Any self-respecting Senate Republican who would vote for this multibillion-dollar slush fund in the name of saving the economy needs his or her head examined.