Daily Archives: Sept. 26, 2009

Pro-con: Is ACORN controversy overblown?

acornACORN has received a grand total of $53 million in federal funds over the past 15 years — an average of $3.5 million per year. Meanwhile, not millions, not billions, but trillions of dollars of public funds have been, in the past year alone, transferred to or otherwise used for the benefit of Wall Street. Billions of dollars in American taxpayer money vanished into thin air, eaten by private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. So with this massive pillaging of America’s economic security and its control of American government by its richest and most powerful factions growing by the day, to whom is America’s intense economic anxiety being directed? To a nonprofit group that devotes itself to providing minute benefits to people who live under America’s poverty line. Apparently, the problem is not that taxpayer dollars are going to prop up billionaires, oligarchs and their corrupt industries. It’s that America’s impoverished — a group that is growing rapidly — is getting too much, has too much power and too little accountability. — Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com

The Census Bureau recently severed ties with the advocacy group ACORN, and the Senate voted to deny it access to federal housing funds. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that it took this long and hidden-camera video footage of ACORN workers apparently advising others to commit crimes before officials would act. Allegations of fraud have dogged ACORN for years, sometimes resulting in convictions. Florida authorities recently arrested 11 ACORN workers and charged them with submitting fake voter-registration papers. The videos, which were made by self-described conservative activists, show ACORN employees exhibiting disdain for the law. In one, a couple posing as a prostitute and her pimp are given advice on how to open a brothel and launder the ill-gotten earnings. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., called on Congress and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate ACORN. That’s a good start, but the videos suggest that a Justice Department criminal investigation is also needed. — Wall Street Journal editorial

Open thread 9/26

thread

Big policy changes tough to get through Congress

obamahandsbyfaceAn article by the conservative Hudson Institute concludes that President Obama has a “policy approach” to governing. Rather than focusing on incremental changes and fixes, Obama prefers comprehensive policies aimed at making systems more rational and coherent. While that may be admirable, columnist David Broder warns that such an approach usually isn’t very successful because of the messy legislative process. Congress has 535 members, all with their own agendas or parochial interests. Add in the influence of special interests, and it makes large changes difficult. For example, Broder said, the energy bill started out in the House as a “reasonably coherent set of trade-offs that would reduce carbon emissions and help the atmosphere” and ended up as “a grab bag of subsidies and payoffs to various industries and groups.” Broder wrote: “Democracy and representative government are a lot messier than the progressives and their heirs, including Obama, want to admit. No wonder they are so often frustrated.”