Now that the U.S. House and Senate have established an "ACORN Standard" for policing federal expenditures — if even a few employees of an organization that feeds at the public trough stand accused of engaging in activities that appear to be inappropriate, then federal funding must be yanked – it would be nice to think that Congress has given itself permission to go after the seriously sleazy players who make it their business to rob American taxpayers.
We’re still in "wait-and-see" mode on that one.
But what should by now be clear to anyone who is interested in dealing with government waste is that cracking down on community organizers who try to help poor people find housing and register voters in historically-disenfranchised communities was a cheap distraction. No one with wealth or power was confronted. No policies were changed. No societal challenges were addressed.
ACORN collected around $53 million in federal largess over a 15 year period when congressional Republicans were more often than not in charge of the budgeting process. In fairness to the Republicans, they spent the money rather responsibly. Despite some embarrassing video tapes of irresponsible ACORN employees who have since been fired, the evidence is overwhelming that most of the money that was allocated to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now to support affordable housing and community empowerment initiatives was well and wisely spent.
So, for all the blather from ridiculously partisan congressional Republicans and their ridiculously frightened Democratic colleagues, the ACORN purge accomplished little or nothing when it came to combating fraud or freeing up federal funds for useful purposes.
But that does not mean that the ACORN distraction was a complete waste of time and legislative energy.
Now that the Congress has established the ACORN precedent, it can be used to go after the multinational corporations that have mastered the game of Grand Theft Treasury.
Members of the House and Senate have given themselves permission to grab the cuff-linked wrists of the penthouse pimps and prostitutes and pull their manicured fingers out of our wallets of the taxpayers.
Where to begin?
Bernie Sanders has the right idea.
"The sad truth of the matter is that virtually every major defense contractor in this country has, for a period of many years, been engaged in systemic, illegal, and fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," the independent senator from Vermont explained in a floor statement last week. "We’re not talking here about the $53 million that ACORN received over 15 years. We’re in fact talking about defense contractors who have received many, many billions in defense contracts and year after year, time after time, violated the law, ripping off the taxpayers of this country big time. And in some instances, these contractors have done more than ripping off the taxpayers. In some instances, they have endangered the lives and well being of the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces."