ACORN: McCain mixing lies, 'creepy music' to 'smear' us
In the last few weeks, Republicans have been attempting to link Barack Obama to a low-income advocacy group, ACORN, for which he provided legal training in the 1990's and which they accuse of being responsible for both voter fraud and the subprime mortgage crisis.
In an ad released on Friday, the McCain campaign asked, "Who is Barack Obama? ... He was asked to train the ACORN staff. What did ACORN in Chicago engage in? Bullying banks. ... ACORN forced banks to issue risky home loans, the same types of loans that caused the financial crisis we're in today."
ACORN addressed these charges in a statement issued Sunday, saying, "Nothing could be further from the truth In fact, ACORN has worked successfully to help working class families get good home loans on fair terms from legitimate banks and has fought vigorously against predatory lenders who have ripped off families in our communities. These predatory loans caused the crisis."
The ACORN statement concludes, "John McCain and the Republicans are desperately trying to shift the blame for the economic crisis they caused with a philosophy of deregulation and indifference to homeowners. All the grainy footage and creepy music in the world can't cancel out some simple, basic facts, and the facts about the economy are not on John McCain's side."
ACORN was also charged in the McCain ad with orchestrating voter fraud, and its Nevada office was raided last Tuesday, following allegations that the group had submitted 300 fraudulent voter registration cards in that state. ACORN has explained in response that current law forces them to hand in all registration forms they receive, even those that are obvious jokes, and that they do their best to mark the potentially fraudulent ones before turning them over to local election boards.
Despite ACORN's rebuttal, Fox News continued on Monday to press the claims against them for all they are worth. Conservative commentator Stanley Kurtz told the hosts of Fox and Friends, "We've already known that ACORN used to pour into these bank lobbies and demand that they start making these high-risk loans, that they would break into the offices of bankers. What I've been finding out lately is that ACORN brought these same intimidation tactics to Congress."
Kurtz has been at the forefront of those trying to paint Obama as a radical on the grounds of his membership in the congregation of Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his service on an educational reform group along with 1960's Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. He has now added Obama's support for ACORN's organizing efforts in the 1990's to the story, describing Obama as having "supervised a report ... to figure out how to keep giving money to radical community organizers like ACORN."
"In 1995 ... when the Republican Congress came in," Kurtz told the Fox hosts, "they were actually going to put a stop to some of these high-risk loans that the law was almost forcing onto banks. ... They sent about 500 demonstrators, pouring into a ballroom where Newt Gingrich was going to give a talk. ... A couple of days later, they temporarily shut down a hearing in the House that was where Republicans were considering some revisions of the laws that might have stopped us getting into the trouble that we've gotten into."
Host Gretchen Carlson explained that Kurtz was referring to the 1995 revisions of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which she called "the beginning of the end for this whole mortage mess."
However, according to Robert Gordon, writing last spring in The American Prospect, this "blame-CRA" theme, which he says has been bouncing around on the right since last year, is fundamentally inaccurate. "Rhetoric aside, the argument turns on a simple question: In the current mortgage meltdown, did lenders approve bad loans to comply with CRA, or to make money? The evidence strongly suggests the latter. ... It is hard to blame CRA for the mortgage meltdown when CRA doesn't even apply to most of the loans that are behind it."
Other commentators have laid the blame for the subprime crisis squarely at the doorstep of the Bush administration and its attempts to increase home ownership among minorities.
This video is from Fox Fox & Friends, broadcast October 13, 2008.
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