09.17.09

Comment On The ACORN Amendment

These videotapes that are the excuse for this amendment understandably have offended most who have heard about them, including me.  I detest the stupidity and crassness that they depict.  If people have acted improperly, they should be fired, and if they have acted illegally, they should be prosecuted, period.  The Obama Administration has been equally critical.
 
ACORN is not the reason for my vote.  There is not even an ACORN office in my entire state.  Nor, for that matter, is there any reason to believe that this group ever has or ever would have any interest or expertise in applying for competitive grants under the programs funded in this Interior Appropriations Bill.
 
Everyone -- except perhaps many of the casual observers who are the target audience of the orchestrated anti-ACORN frenzy – knows that score-at-any-price partisanship is being mixed in an unseemly way with public policy.
 
For more than a year – since long before these videotapes were made -- it has been well known that a partisan project has been launched to demonize ACORN.  ACORN in several ways has made easy work of that.
 
To me, this knee-jerk injection of politics into the competitive grant process is the real issue here.  Congress should not compound the wrongful and stupid actions depicted on these videos by deciding to set political standards for competitive federal grants.  Federal agencies use a nonpartisan review process to award grants to the most competitive applicants.  Just as I would be against banning other specific organizations on the right or on the left from applying for competitive grants, I believe it is harmful, even though popular, to approve an amendment like this.
 
It is unseemly to allow use of a partisan playbook to run roughshod over long-established competitive grant procedure.  The admittedly few votes that were cast against this amendment, against the tide of popular opinion, have at least made it more likely that in calmer moments months or years from now, there may at least be some thought invested before Congress again acts to inject raw political partisanship – from the left or from the right -- into the competitive grant mechanisms of federal agencies.

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