So ACORN Doesn't Have Tax Issues?
If you watched any of this embarrassing performance by ACORN mob boss Bertha Lewis Sunday you couldn't help by conclude the woman is a pathological liar. The most egregious lie she told was that ACORN pays all its taxes. Whoops. Would you like to have that one back, Bertha?
ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis told Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday that her group "absolutely pays its taxes." Not true: The IRS and Louisiana's taxmen have imposed nearly $2 million in liens against ACORN for failing to fork over taxes at its New Orleans national headquarters. The IRS recently filed a $548,000 lien against the group, and Louisiana state tax officials have slapped $334,000 in liens on ACORN since last October.
Evidence that ACORN ignored its tax obligations may be less exciting than its branch offices' eagerness to help a self-professed pimp break multiple laws, or the voter-registration fraud for which various of its workers have been convicted.
But the tax mess shows that the lawlessness starts at its headquarters. (ACORN actually has three national HQs -- in the Big Easy, Washington, DC, and New York City.)
Another New Orleans group, the free-market Pelican Institute for Public Policy, uncovered official records that confirm ACORN's deadbeat tax status. (Full disclosure: Pelican hosted my visit to New Orleans last May.) At the Orleans Parish Clerk of Courts Office, Pelican researcher Steve Beatty found a Sept. 3 IRS filing showing that "Elysian Fields Corp., Inc., Alter Ego of ACORN" skipped five quarterly withholding-tax payments -- covering income, Social Security and Medicare levies -- in 2005-08, and made no federal unemployment-tax payments for the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008.
"We have made a demand for payment of this liability, but it remains unpaid," reads IRS form 668(Y). So the federal taxmen have placed liens on ACORN's New Orleans offices at 2609 Canal St. and 2610 Iberville St. This follows a $1 million invoice that the IRS already had handed ACORN, as Pelican reported last August. The group's in trouble with the state, too.
"We have a full-scale investigation into ACORN and all of its subsidiaries," Tammi Arender, spokeswoman for Louisiana Attorney General Bobby Caldwell, said recently. "No stone will be left unturned. We're still looking into their recent activities." Caldwell subpoenaed ACORN, former ACORN head Wade Rathke and the group's financial institution, Whitney Bank. Caldwell seeks information stretching back to 1998 on ACORN and some 361 tax-exempt and non-tax-exempt outfits in its universe.
Citizens Consulting, Inc. -- ACORN's bookkeeping arm, no less -- scored a Louisiana "Notice of State Tax Assessment and Lien" on Oct. 29, 2008. It details 66 withholding-tax payments that Citizens Consulting skipped in 2002-08, totaling more than $300,000.
These documents are online at pelicaninstitute.org. American taxpayers have to struggle to pay their taxes in full and on time. Meanwhile, ACORN routinely has ignored its duty -- even as it has continued to collect millions of taxpayer dollars from the government.
Be sure to visit the Pelican Institute link and view the PDFs of the tax liens.
Bertha Lewis is lying through her teeth, that much is obvious. Why most of the media is ignoring her criminal activities remains a mystery. Watch how she can't even look at Darrell Issa. It's no wonder she's desperately avoiding appearing before Congress.
ACORN rotten from the head down
The liberal political organizing group ACORN faced internal chaos and allegations of financial mismanagement and fraud long before two young conservatives embarrassed the group with undercover videos made at field offices in Washington and across the country.
Internal ACORN documents show an organization in turmoil as last year's presidential election approached, with a board torn over how to handle embezzlement by the founder's brother and growing concern that donor money and pension funds had been plundered in the insider scheme.
Minutes from a meeting ACORN held in Los Angeles last summer reveal a group then on the brink of financial collapse. "Currently owe over $800k to IRS," the minutes note. "Haven't paid medical bills of over $300k. We are essentially 'broke' nationally and lots of offices are struggling."
Some top ACORN officials tried to shield the scheme, which involved Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke. "Leadership has no faith in staff. Wade betrayed them," the minutes said.
Obama won’t win by calling opponents cowards
During his current media bombardment, President Obama is wisely downplaying the charges of racism his allies have been making. He told CNN’s John King that race wasn’t “the overriding issue” for the opponents of his health care plan. Not exactly an exoneration of his critics’ racial attitudes, but at least an acknowledgment that there is more than bigotry at work. What Obama says is really driving the negative response to his policies is fear. Fear of “big changes.” Fear of “uncertainty.”
The president likes to equate the resistance he’s facing with that met by Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. It’s nice that Obama wants to put himself in such elite presidential company, but Roosevelt’s first year saw the passage of at least 10 major pieces of domestic legislation and two constitutional amendments. Obama has so far managed to produce two very large spending bills, keep his predecessor’s bailouts going and little else.
Roosevelt actually changed the country in his first eight months. And did it with a quarter of the work force idled and the banks out of money. People were afraid that the republic might fail and mostly welcomed FDR’s boldness. Today, Americans aren’t so much afraid as they are tired of treading water economically and pessimistic that anything the government can do will make it better.
Even so, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel last week compared the president’s detractors to Father Coughlin, the racist, populist radio priest whose anti-Roosevelt rants were the targets of some of the first free-speech restrictions on the airwaves. Coughlin actually wanted more changes and more socialism than Roosevelt, not less. But you get where Team Obama is coming from. It sees demagogues leading flocks of fearful followers away from the bright light of progress.
Emanuel pictures a nation of modern-day Joads. He sees victims of the foreclosure dust bowl huddled around their laptops, hanging on Glenn Beck’s every blog post and too panic-stricken to see the wisdom of Obamacare.
First, we were told it was fear of the unknown. Once we understood the plan, we would cease to be afraid. When the president was selling a nonexistent plan this summer, it did sound pretty sketchy. At his July 22 news conference, when asked about what people would have to sacrifice for the sake of universal coverage, Obama said: “They’re going to have to give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier.”
So yes, Dr. Obama’s Traveling Medicine Show did not inspire confidence. But it is rational to be skeptical of a politician who proposes huge changes and promises only good results. The president, though, blamed the peddlers of “myths” and “distortions” of his imaginary plans for droopy polls and the outrage being expressed at town hall meetings.
The White House said the anxieties would begin to fade when Obama came forward with his own robust plan and sold it aggressively. And the president did just that Sept. 9, including all of the elements his liberal supporters wanted in a rousing speech. And again he saw fear, not disagreement, as the problem. “It has never been easy, moving this nation forward. There are always those who oppose it and those who use fear to block change,” Obama told a joint session of Congress.
There was a brief bounce in support for the plan based on the delivery of the speech. And then people found out that the president was really proposing federally mandated coverage, cuts to popular existing programs and new financial burdens on middle-class families.
Now, Obama is trying to recapture the momentum by assaulting the airwaves like a buttoned-down Billy Mays, pitching national health care instead of synthetic chamois cloths. He says he is on TV to battle fear at a time “of transition,” as if all roads lead in the direction of government health care but foolish fears can delay the inevitable.
The best liberal thinkers, including Obama, have been working for years to bring working-class whites back into the Democratic Party and re-create the unbeatable coalition of the New Deal. FDR built that coalition by addressing the shared, urgent fears of blacks and whites, farmers and mill workers, and Yankees and Southerners. And Obama believes he can do it again. But telling people that fear is the reason they have misgivings about an outlandish-sounding solution to a long-term problem is insulting, not reassuring.
Democrats on path to repeat housing disaster
With all the attention paid to the health care battle, ACORN, and the president's "Full Ginsburg" appearances on five Sunday talk shows, few people noticed a hearing with an exceedingly boring title -- "Proposals to Enhance the Community Reinvestment Act" -- held last week in the House Financial Services Committee. But the session marked a key moment in the ongoing battle between Republicans and Democrats over what caused our current financial woes -- and how we might best avoid getting into the same trouble again.
At the hearing, and in others across Capitol Hill, Democratic majorities are pressing hard to expand some of the very policies that led to the reckless home lending that in turn helped lead to the great financial meltdown. If Chairman Barney Frank and his fellow Democrats have their way, we'll do it all again -- and more.
At issue last week was H.R. 1479, the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. It would expand and strengthen the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which required banks to make loans in low-income areas that many lenders had traditionally shunned.
After the meltdown, some conservatives blamed the CRA for almost solely causing the crisis by requiring banks to make risky loans to unqualified borrowers. It was an unfair charge. "CRA had at best an incremental role in the U.S. housing debacle," says J.D. Foster, an economist at the Heritage Foundation. But CRA did help create the conditions in which disaster could occur. The problems began in the 1990s, when Congress made it harder for lenders to do business if they had not passed the CRA "exam" -- that is, if they had not met the government-imposed standards for loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers.
"From 1995 on, there was an incredible push by the Clinton and Bush administrations in every way they could -- CRA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other ways -- to increase the homeownership rate," says Russell Roberts, a professor of economics at George Mason University. "What that did was to push up the price of housing, and that made it imaginable to lend money to people you never would have lent money to, on terms you wouldn't have done before."
In particular, Fannie Mae began to aggressively promote homeownership using the Community Reinvestment Act to give loans to people who couldn't afford them. Fannie went to bankers and said, make as many CRA loans as you can; we'll buy them and take them off your hands. "Our approach to our lenders is 'CRA Your Way,' " top Fannie executive Jamie Gorelick told the Mortgage Bankers Association in 2001. "Fannie Mae will buy CRA loans from lenders' portfolios; we'll package them into securities; we'll purchase CRA mortgages at the point of origination. ..." Fannie promised to buy billions and billions of dollars worth of CRA loans because it was under pressure to do so from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which in turn was under pressure from Congress, which set ambitious quotas for low- and moderate-income loans.
The policy ended in a lot of people losing their homes. Now, Johnson's bill would ensure more of that by applying CRA's lending requirements not just to banks but to non-bank institutions like credit unions, insurance companies, and mortgage lenders. It would also make CRA explicitly race-based by, in Johnson's words, "requiring CRA exams to explicitly consider lending and services to minorities in addition to low- and moderate-income communities."
Republicans on the Financial Services Committee strongly oppose the plan. "Instead of looking to expand the number of institutions that must abide by CRA regulations, I think we should reassess the role this and other government mandates played in the financial collapse and consider scaling it back," California Rep. Ed Royce said at the hearing. In private conversation, other Republicans were more emphatic. "There is clearly arguable evidence that the CRA is at the root of this financial meltdown," said one GOP committee member. "So what do they do? They try to expand CRA."
That's an overstatement of CRA's role in the housing mess, but it's right about the Democratic plan. Denying that CRA, Fannie and other institutions played any role in setting the stage for disaster, they're proposing more of what helped get us into trouble in the first place. It's no way to fix the problem.
See here for an amazing tale of the bungling and waste in the administration of the "cash for clunkers" program.
Maryland governor OKs ACORN investigation: "Maryland’s Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley has authorized the state’s attorney general to investigate ACORN. “The Office of the Attorney General is authorized to use all necessary subpoena powers, to present to an appropriate grand jury any evidence and testimony considered necessary to carry out this authorization and directive, and to act with the full powers, rights and privileges possessed by a State’s Attorney,” O’Malley said in a news release."
NYC Hotel takes a stand against the Iranian madmen: "New York's Helmsley Hotel said on Friday it canceled a banquet set for next week when it learned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was on the guest list, saying the man who called the Holocaust a lie was not welcome. Ahmadinejad was due in New York next week to attend the U.N. General Assembly, and his public appearances outside the meeting have generated controversy in recent years. "As soon as Helmsley corporate management learned of the possibility of either the Iranian mission or President Ahmadinejad holding a function at the New York Helmsley Hotel, they immediately ordered the cancellation of that function," hotel spokesman Howard Rubenstein said in a statement."
Frustration over Obama’s Afghanistan strategy: "Military officials voiced frustration and congressional leaders urged caution Tuesday over what they described as President Barack Obama’s shifting strategy in Afghanistan, six months after he committed thousands more U.S. troops to the stalemated war there. Administration officials maintained they were looking at all options to protect the U.S. and its allies by shutting down al-Qaida leaders who are believed to be hiding in areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.”
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