Last year, when the issue of defunding ACORN was a hot-button issue, I told countless radio talk show audiences that the focus should be on eliminating the underlying fuel that created the organization—the flow of federal subsidies.
Chris Edwards pointed this out in September. If Congress simply stops subsidizing ACORN, its activists will reincorporate under new names and again become eligible for funds. Alas, that’s precisely what ACORN is currently doing.
One of the latest groups to adopt a new name is ACORN Housing, long one of the best-funded affiliates. Now, the group is calling itself the Affordable Housing Centers of America.
Others changing their names include what were among the largest affiliates: California ACORN is now Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and New York ACORN has become New York Communities for Change. More are expected to follow suit.
A comment from Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Republicans on the U.S. House oversight and government reform committee, doesn’t indicate that the GOP has quite received the message:
To credibly claim a clean break, argued Hill, the new groups should at least have hired directors from outside ACORN.
It appears that for many Republicans, attacking ACORN represented political opportunism, not a statement about the proper role of the federal government.
Further rendering the GOP’s ACORN agenda moot was last week’s ruling by a U.S. District judge that singling out ACORN for defunding is unconstitutional. It truly boggles the mind what passes for constitutional and unconstitutional in this country.
Last Tuesday was the birthday of James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution.” Reflecting upon Madison’s wise words, it’s hard to understand how the federal “community development” programs that have funded ACORN could pass constitutional muster:
“The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
“[T]he powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.”
“With respect to the two words “general welfare,” I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions.”
See this essay for reasons why these HUD community development programs should be abolished.
cross-posted from Cato-at-Liberty.org