With a new president ensconced in the White House, it's time to roll out the goodies for loyal supporters in left-of-center political advocacy groups such as ACORN.
The latest economic stimulus bill promises to do just that by providing a huge bailout --up to $5.2 billion in taxpayer funds -- for some of the same liberal groups that helped get Barack Obama elected.
The three relevant fiscal provisions are buried deep in the $825 billion monstrosity known as the proposed "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."
Title XII of the spending legislation backed by the Democratic congressional leadership and the Obama administration would dole out $1 billion in old-fashioned slush funds for the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program. Local politicians love CDBG because it is flexible. The program gives them wide latitude when spending grant money and allows local leaders to use federal dollars on local projects that they wouldn't dream of spending their own local tax dollars on. ACORN loves CDBG because it is adept at lobbying for CDBG funds.
A separate $10 million is provided in the stimulus package to develop or rehabilitate low-income housing under the Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP).
But the biggest chunk of the $5.2 billion comes in the form of $4.19 billion for foreclosure relief through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Although ACORN operatives usually get their hands on such funds only after they have first passed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or state and local governments, the new spending bill largely eliminates these dawdling middle men, 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. And the legislative package provides these funds without the usual prohibition on using government money for lobbying or political activities.
The current version of the stimulus package would allow nonprofit groups to compete with states and localities for $3.44 billion from the $4.19 billion Neighborhood Stabilization Program allocation. The remaining $750 million from the program plus the $10 million in SHOP funds would be set aside exclusively for nonprofit groups.
Probably chief among the groups to benefit from stimulus spending will be ACORN, the infamous network of 100-plus left-wing activist groups.
As everyone who hasn't been in a coma for the last year knows, ACORN and President Obama go way back.
You may remember in October when ACORN's CEO, "chief organizer" Bertha Lewis, appeared in a YouTube video in front of a banner reading "Working Families Party: Fighting for Jobs and Justice," and endorsed Obama for president. (The Working Families Party, a minor New York party, is an ACORN affiliate.) This plea to voters eliminated any doubts that the most diehard benefit-of-the-doubt-giving ACORN supporters may have been harboring that ACORN's voter-registration and get-out-the-vote drives were aimed at getting conservatives and Republicans to the polls.
ACORN's national political action committee, ACORN Votes, also endorsed Obama. ACORN national president Maude Hurd said Obama was "the candidate who best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about like stopping foreclosures."
You may also remember that during last year's primaries, the Obama campaign paid $832,598 to Citizens Services Inc., another ACORN affiliate, for get-out-the-vote activities. It's also well known that Obama led a voter drive for ACORN affiliate Project Vote, represented ACORN in court, and lectured at ACORN on organizing techniques.
Then-candidate Obama promised a gathering of community organizers in December 2007 that he would involve them in the policy process. "Before I even get inaugurated, during the transition, we're going to be calling all of you in to help us shape the agenda. We're going to be having meetings all across the country with community organizations so that you have input into the agenda for the next presidency of the United States of America."
Apparently President Obama is a man of his word.
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