Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Right-Wing Myths About ACORN & CRA

As the economy tanks and our country hemorrhages jobs, the Republicans have retreated to their tried and true tactics once known as the Southern Strategy.

The strategy? Blame the minorities and the poor for the country's problems.

The conservative crowd has decided to baselessly blame the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for the country's mortgage crisis, despite all evidence to the contrary.

There are a lot of people a ton smarter than me to explain this (here, here, here, here, here) so I will just put out there a few basic facts that people should know and you'll need to have when you are trying to debate your crazy relative who keeps screaming that this whole mess is due to the CRA and liberals forcing banks to make risky loans.

First of all, the CRA does not force banks to make loans to people who can't pay them back. It made banks stop "redlining" minority neighborhoods and making it harder for people in those communities to get loans. The CRA has been chiefly responsible for creating whole new communities of home owners and responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households.

Second, it is estimated that only 20% or less of the sub-prime mortgages out there are ones covered under the CRA. Not only that, but most banks say that CRA loans have had a low default rate.

Third, related to the above, the vast majority of sub-prime mortgages have been made by brokers not covered by the CRA or any real regulation. Many of these predatory lenders knowingly made loans to people they knew wouldn't be able to keep up with the payments and the high rates. But it didn't matter to them because they were going to sell the loans to Wall Street as mortgage-backed securities. Brokers make their money and take on none of the risk.

I even read somewhere (I don't remember the source) that an ongoing review of the sub-prime mortgages has found that maybe up to half the people that were given these high rate loans were really eligible for normal rate loans that they nay have been able to pay. There was some major fraud going on by the greedy brokers who sold these loans.

Anyway, there is more and it makes the brain hurt to learn all of this stuff. Check out those links I put in there for more complete info about this mess and the conservative lies about it.

And then there is the recent turning of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) into the new bogeyman of the election. Conservatives are accusing them of the serious crime of voter fraud.

ACORN is a pretty damn good organization overall and they have registered millions of minority and poor people to vote. The issue that has the right-wing all fired up is that there were a bunch of voter registration cards filled out by paid workers who filled in the names of fake people, people from the phone book and celebrities.

Is this a not-so-good-a-thing to see? Sure. Is it voter fraud? Not even close.

At best it would be voter registration fraud, which won't do one thing to effect the outcome of the election.

They are trying to make it sound as if ACORN is knowingly turning in fraudulent voter registration cards. This ignores two things:

One, ACORN pulled aside the fakes they caught and pointed them out to the various election commissions themselves.

And two, in most of the states ACORN was working in they can't discard the fake registration forms. They are required by law to turn them in.

This happens to all organizations that try to register voters by using paid workers. Not a big deal.

But the GOP will do their best to use this as an excuse to purge voter rolls in places where poor people and minorities will vote. Voter suppression is the name of this game.

There is also an attempt to pain Obama as some sort of ACORN stooge. Maybe that's what McCain was setting up when he referred to Obama's "cronies" in the last debate.

Just another blatant attempt to paint as evil anything Obama has ever touched and then exaggerate his connection to said person/organization.

Obama worked on their behalf when they were party to a lawsuit to force the state of Illinois to implement the Motor Voter registration, which was required by federal law. The League of Women Voters and the Justice Department were also plaintiffs in that suit.

Just another red herring for the Republicans.

And somehow in the minds of the kind of people that attend McCain-Palin rallies ACORN and CRA are the same exact thing and are to blame for our housing and financial crises.

I don't even want to get started on the preposterous claim that ACORN is so powerful they were able to force all those corporate banks into making bad loans.

As my Jewish friends like to say: Oy.


Anonymous said...

Erin O'Brien just linked to an interesting story from a woman in Ohio who witnessed the ridiculous way in which ACORN is being tied to voter fraud:

PreElection Witch Hunt

And like the nerd that I am, on my blog I just put together a list of state election websites with links to voter info searches or contact info so that people can verify that they are indeed registered.

I worry that due to inefficiencies in the system there's more of a chance that legitimate votes won't be counted than I am about Mickey Mouse showing up on election day.

Deni said...

Thanks for that article link MOC. Great stuff.

I don't explain it nearly as well as the real writers who have, but I wanted something in here about the ACORN and CRA smears.

Paisano1 said...

Here some more on McCain and his false claims against ACORN:

Fight on!