The GOP and Fox News have been ganging up on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) like a couple of bullies picking on the scrawniest kid in the schoolyard -- and they can only push that kid so far until he gives them a well-deserved bloody nose. Last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) unjustly accused ACORN of receiving a $4.19 billion bailout from President Obama's economic stimulus package. His false claims were echoed by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) on Fox, who claimed this money was a "payoff" for ACORN's activism in the last election. That was all it took for bloviators Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin to resuscitate allegations of ACORN's voter fraud. They even blamed the low- and moderate-income advocacy group for the subprime meltdown, rather than discuss the banks actually caused this mess and have subsequently received tens of billions in bailout funds they continue to squander.
These cries amount to nothing more than fearmongering in the name of obstructionism, what ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis called "a complete fabrication of overheated partisan fever dreams." As Congress Matters noted, the $4.19 billion was actually set aside for "neighborhood stabilization activities related to emergency assistance for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes." In other words, any non-profit housing developer could bid on this money.
Here comes the bloody nose. Yesterday, the organization sent a letter to Boehner's office and media in Ohio shooting down each and every accusation and attacking Boehner on his home turf, a district where more than 4,800 families faced foreclosure in 2008 alone. They also went after Boehner's record of voting against the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 and the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act. Simultaneously, they're asking everyone to contact their Senators and tell them to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a version of which passed in the House last week despite the GOP's partisan rancor.
Indeed, the GOP and Fox seem determined to distract us from the true causes of the mortgage meltdown as they cling to a dying ideology at all costs. Why else would they pick on one of the only groups actively working to end the foreclosure crisis? ACORN has been protesting and disrupting sales of foreclosed homes in 25 cities around the country; going door-to-door in communities particularly affected by the crisis; counseling families facing foreclosure; and collecting petition signatures to request a 90-day foreclosure moratorium (which Obama has said he would support), enabling homeowners to renegotiate the terms of their loans. And that was just in the month of January!
In the coming weeks, ACORN will launch its "homesteading" campaign, calling for volunteers that they will train to help people keep (and in some instances reoccupy) their homes using civil disobedience. They are also partnering with Brave New Foundation to unveil an interactive website that enables homeowners to tell their foreclosure stories in their own words, thereby putting a face on a broad critical situation to underscore its urgency.
ACORN is taking action at the local and national level, doing everything they can to help people hang onto their homes and renegotiate the terms of predatory loans. By contrast, all the GOP and their media mouthpiece seem to be doing is standing in their way.