When Congress Fails
Conn Carroll /
The ‘dean’ of Washington punditry, The Washington Post’s David Broder, has an absolute beaut today on the creation of the National Housing Trust Fund. In an op-ed titled “When Congress Works” Broder writes:
If you were to ask Democrats Barney Frank and Chris Dodd — the principal architects of the massive housing bill signed yesterday by President Bush — which of its many features pleases them most, the answer would surprise you. … it is the section creating the National Housing Trust Fund, a creative way of meeting the chronic shortage of affordable low-income rental units — a huge problem in cities and rural areas across the country.
The lobbying campaign that supported this effort began in 2001 and involved hundreds of local governments and social service agencies.
The National Housing Trust Fund does not depend on annual appropriations by Congress, which might never arrive, given the size of the federal budget deficit, the costs of two wars and runaway health-care programs. Instead, it taps a portion of the profits that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac make on their mortgage loans, estimated to yield at least $300 million a year and perhaps as much as $700 million.
Each year, as the money comes in, the trust fund will distribute it to the states using a formula that measures the seriousness of their low-income-housing needs. At least 90 percent of the funds must be used to construct or rehab rental units. All of the benefits are ticketed for very low- or extremely low-income households.
There are so many things Broder leaves out of this story, but we’ll start with just one nugget from today’s Wall Street Journal:
The housing bill signed Wednesday by President George W. Bush will provide a stream of billions of dollars for distressed homeowners and communities and the nonprofit groups that serve them. One of the biggest likely beneficiaries, despite Republican objections: Acorn, a housing advocacy group that also helps lead ambitious voter-registration efforts benefiting Democrats.
Acorn — made up of several legally distinct groups under that name — has become an important player in the Democrats’ effort to win the White House. Its voter mobilization arm is co-managing a $15.9 million campaign with the group Project Vote to register 1.2 million low-income Hispanics and African-Americans, who are among those most likely to vote Democratic. Technically nonpartisan, the effort is one of the largest such voter-registration drives on record.
What Broder and the WSJ do not report is that ACORN has a long and established history of using fraud, deceit and intimidation to achieve its goals. ACORN uses intimidation to shake down corporations for operating funds, deceives its own employees into supporting causes they don’t believe in, and cheats the entire country by submitting fraudulent voter registrations.
So to recap, corrupt and fraudulent groups like ACORN have been lobbying Congress for over a decade for an established source of federal funds to better support their near criminal enterprises. Proving unsuccessful at getting their funds in an honest way, their liberal allies in Congress wait until the nation is in a financial crisis and then they jam the trust fund into bi-partisan emergency legislation that the White House has promised not to veto. If this is Congress ‘work’ing, the nation will be much better off when they go on vacation.