Just like any organized crime group, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (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.

ACORN is also adept at co-opting government power to fund and legitimize a criminal enterprise. It has been winning federal money since the Carter administration and routinely receives millions of dollars in federal grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In the 1990s, it began shaking down local business communities and has established local “Housing Trust Funds” in more than 300 states, counties, cities and towns. The funds funnel money through groups like ACORN to produce new homes and refurbish existing ones. The key to these trust funds is securing a dedicated source of public funds.

The Holy Grail for ACORN has been the establishment of a National Housing Trust Fund. During the brief economic downturn in 2001, ACORN pushed the fund as an economic stimulus. From 2003 through 2006 it pushed the fund as a solution to housing prices that were too high. Now liberals in Congress have included the National Housing Trust Fund in the latest housing bailout bill, arguing it’s needed because housing prices are too low.

In 2006, liberals in Congress held much-needed reform of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae hostage in exchange for the creation of ACORN’s permanent housing slush fund. They are doing the same exact thing with the housing bailout bill. In fact, it is inaccurate to even describe the current bill as a housing bailout. From the beginning, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) admitted it was irrelevant how many people the bill actually helped. Now Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) even pegs that number at a measly 500,000 over three years. Considering how long it would take to actually implement the program, and that home sales are up as home prices are returning to reality, this bill will do nothing to help currently distressed home buyers.

This bill has become a trade of legislative priorities between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives would get much needed reform of the government-sponsored entities that are at the core of the current housing crisis; and liberals would get a new permanent slush fund for one of their key political allies. Conservatives need to ask themselves if this is really a deal they can make on principle.

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