Hey, Congress, lay off ACORN already

by Wade Rathke

December 29, 2020

Pearl River   Good news! The still President, or as some call him the President-Unelect Donald Trump, went to sign his golf card in Florida and toady South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham slipped the latest $900 billion coronavirus relief bill to him instead, and, wham-bam, relief finally came. Well, maybe not exactly like that, but Graham is trying his best to take credit for whispering in his ear in between holes, and Trump’s last-minute histrionics in threatening to hold up the bill until the individual payments were upped to $2000 were crashing and burning in Republican “let them eat cake” Senate after the House jumped to “Amen” the higher payments. If this is political theater, it’s farce, especially since the pouting presidential delay meant an interruption in unemployment payments since the earlier extension had already expired.

The bill does extend eviction relief, unemployment emergency benefits, food stamp increases, individual payments of up to $600, money for COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution, and more. Sure, there’s plenty for business and the rich, too. It wouldn’t be a bill out of Congress without that caveat.

But, part of the “more,” still continues to be offensive, because it included another annual slap at ACORN. Buried on page 1,092 of the new bill is this reference to ACORN:

SEC. 521. None of the funds made available under this or any other Act, or any prior Appropriations Act, may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, allied organizations, or successors.

On its face, this language is ridiculous, overboard, and likely unconstitutional. It’s unclear that it is now legal to pass something ex post facto, going back in time, not that this copy-and-paste baloney hasn’t been in every appropriation bill out of Congress over the last decade or more. There were hundreds of “allied organizations” with ACORN, including scores of labor unions, progressive think tanks, religious organizations, political, social service and university programs, and more. Congress would have to have several full-time staffers on the job to make sure nothing trickled down from this bill (or prior bills?) to ACORN allies. Affiliates, subsidiaries, or successors? Well, there are plenty of them as well, and many that survived have done quite well, thank you, so back in the boiler room there better be some elves working to make sure they are punished for no crimes as well.

Here’s what I don’t get. Sure, back in the Obama days when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, something like ACORN, attacked but never charged or proven guilty of anything, was a political punching bag for partisan players, but why is this still happening now? The House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi contains a majority of Democrat members. The chair of the House Appropriations Committee that writes much of this bill is Democratic, which means that they also control the key staffing positions. Why then is ACORN still so unjustly singled out for this kind of gratuitous attack in any and all appropriations bills, including this current stimulus act?

Trump never even knew how to spell ACORN, so it’s hard to believe that this has anything to do with making him happy. Biden is now going to be president. The Democrats still control the House, no matter what happens in Georgia. In the next appropriations bills can’t we get rid of these Section 521 kind of insults buried past 1000 pages on these bills that mean nothing, that hardly anyone reads, and that at best are nothing but an ancient history footnote that many now would be clueless to explain?

Wade Rathke is founder and chief organizer of ACORN and ACORN International. You can find Wade’s recent past posts here Chief Organizer Reports. And you can link to his website here Chief Organizer ACORN/ACORN International.

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