Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cutting the ACORN Tree

The Republicans think they’ve really got a winner in taking down ACORN to the point that several governors including Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota (and, coincidentally, both with White House ambitions) have vowed to cut state funding of ACORN from their budgets — only to find that they weren’t funding it to begin with. Now that the House and Senate have voted to stop funding ACORN, the GOP is going even further to ensure that not one dime gets to the group. And to make sure, they are writing a bill so sweeping that makes sure of it.

The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to “any organization” that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.

In other words, the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) picked up on the legislative overreach and asked the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to sift through its database to find which contractors might be caught in the ACORN net.

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman both popped up quickly, with 20 fraud cases between them, and the longer list is a Who’s Who of weapons manufacturers and defense contractors.

Cutting down the entire tree to get one acorn doesn’t make a whole lot of sense…unless you’re a right-wing nutjob.

As Steve Benen points out, why is it that the problems at ACORN require the full force of the House and Senate while the sins of the military-industrial complex don’t seem to bother anyone?