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ACORN: The Bogeyman in the GOP Closet

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Sometimes, in my copious spare time, I like to peruse what various folks in the media, both new and traditional, are saying about ACORN. Sometimes this makes me happy, for example when I see Ben Ehrenreich's well done article on what people are doing to combat the foreclosure crisis at the heart of the economic meltdown. And sometimes it leaves me perplexed. Like now, watching the right-wing blogs and then right-wing traditional media outlets pick up the ridiculous talking points from the GOP leadership attacking Obama's stimulus package by claiming that it gives ACORN a $4.19 billion bailout.

Puh-lease, people! When we heard that we fell over ourselves to see the language in the bill that would make us the richest organization of poor people in world history. We scrambled to set-up a direct deposit account. We wondered if check cashing outlets would take government checks. Turns out, though, that this $4 billion is pretty much like the last billion we read about in GOP press releases: a complete fabrication of overheated partisan fever dreams.

At this point I'm not sure what is more amusing: watching respectable elected officials parrot zombie talking points from the party that brought us the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression or watching so-called journalists mimic the charges without asking for proof. Or calling us for our comment.

So let's be clear. ACORN isn't getting any of this money. Since it is set aside for non-profit housing developers to help purchase, rehab, and resell foreclosed properties, we aren't eligible for it in the first place.

But wait. National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spokesman Ken Spain goes one better, "It's hard to decipher which is the most fraudulent notion -- the fact that ACORN is a law-abiding entity worthy of a $4.2 billion bailout or that $1.1 trillion in out-of-control government spending is going to defy the experts and have some sort of immediate effect on the economy."

Oh my. All this invective for a group of 450,000 low- and moderate-income families living in 110 cities in the United States. This year we are definitely going to go as ourselves for Halloween. Clearly nothing is scarier - not the 2.3 million families facing foreclosure in 2008, not the nearly 70,000 layoffs so far this month, not the loss of over 2 million jobs in 2008, not the fact that over 50 million people lack health insurance.

But those are the reasons why ACORN supports President Obama's call for a stimulus package that creates 3-4 million new jobs. And those are the reasons why we are bemused by the tired partisan talking points being trotted by conservatives in their desperate attempts to continue with the catastrophic economic policies of the Bush years.

ACORN members won't be stopped by this petty partisan back-biting. We are ready to do what it takes to help America get back on its feet and get Americans back to work. We've been doing this for years. For the past decade ACORN worked hard to warn about the impending foreclosure crisis caused by unchecked predatory lending. Since 1996 ACORN worked hard to pass living wage and minimum wage laws at the local and state levels to close the wage and wealth gap. And in 2008 we ran one of the largest non-partisan voter registration drives in United States history. We helped over 1.3 million low-income people, young people, and people of color complete voter registration applications, one of the most patriotic activities in which any organization can engage.

Come to think of it, maybe those are the reasons conservatives have their panties in a bunch when they think of ACORN. But we think the time has come for the GOP leadership to pull their pants up, roll their sleeves up, and work together with the new Administration to put America back to work.

Because the consequences of the failure of our political leadership at this crisis point in our nation's history are much much scarier than anything contained in a GOP press release.

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