Wash. Times echoes recovery bill falsehoods on undocumented immigrants, ACORN

››› ››› LILY YAN

The Washington Times falsely claimed that the House-passed economic recovery bill "allows payment of checks to undocumented immigrants," and repeated the falsehood that "much" of the $4.19 billion allocated for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program in the bill "might go to ACORN." In fact, under the bill, undocumented immigrants without Social Security numbers are not eligible for tax credits, and the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding.

In a February 2 editorial titled, "The stimulus bill that isn't," The Washington Times falsely claimed that the House-passed economic recovery bill "allows payment of checks to undocumented immigrants filing tax returns using an alternative number to the normal Social Security number." In fact, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act specifically precludes from eligibility for the Making Work Pay tax credit of $500 per individual and $1,000 per family "any individual unless the requirements of section 32(c)(1)(E) are met with respect to such individual." Those requirements include "a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration." Additionally, echoing a press release from the office of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), the Times falsely claimed that the bill allocated "$4.19 billion for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program (much of which might go to ACORN [the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now], the discredited activist organization that the FBI is investigating for vote fraud)." In fact, the recovery bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding, and ACORN has denied that they are either eligible for these funds or plan to apply for them.

As Media Matters for America has documented, Section 32(c)(1)(E) of the Internal Revenue Code, which specifies requirements for individuals to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, states:

(E) Identification number requirement

No credit shall be allowed under this section to an eligible individual who does not include on the return of tax for the taxable year --

(i) such individual's taxpayer identification number, and

(ii) if the individual is married (within the meaning of section 7703), the taxpayer identification number of such individual's spouse.

The law defines "taxpayer identification number" as used in 32(c)(1)(E) as "a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration":

(m) Identification numbers

Solely for purposes of subsections (c)(1)(E) and (c)(3)(D), a taxpayer identification number means a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration (other than a social security number issued pursuant to clause (II) (or that portion of clause (III) that relates to clause (II)) of section 205(c)(2)(B)(i) of the Social Security Act).

Therefore, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act bars anyone without "a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration" from eligibility for Making Work Pay tax credits. This claim appears to have originated from a false January 30 Associated Press report that was revised later that day to make clear that "[i]llegal immigrants without Social Security numbers could not get tax credits" under the stimulus bill.

As Media Matters has documented, contrary to the Times' suggestion, the recovery bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding and requires that the $4.19 billion it allocates for "neighborhood stabilization activities" be distributed through competitive processes. The relevant provision would require that "not less than $3,440,000,000 shall be allocated by a competition" to "States, units of general local government, and nonprofit entities or consortia of nonprofit entities," and that "up to $750,000,000 shall be awarded by competition to nonprofit entities or consortia of nonprofit entities to provide community stabilization assistance."

Moreover, ACORN has denied that it is eligible for the "neighborhood stabilization funds," and has stated that it does not intend to apply for them. After Boehner's office issued press releases claiming that the recovery bill "makes groups like ACORN eligible for a $4.19 billion pot of money for 'neighborhood stabilization activities,' " in a January 28 press release, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis called the claim an "obfuscation" that "was picked up across the right-wing echo chamber and has been used as a fig leaf by conservatives in their attempts to justify their opposition to progressive economic policies." She further stated: "We have not received neighborhood stabilization funds, have no plans to apply for such funds, and didn't weigh in on the pending rule changes." On January 29, Lewis wrote on The Huffington Post, "[L]et's be clear. ACORN isn't getting any of this money. Since it is set aside for non-profit housing developers to help purchase, rehab, and resell foreclosed properties, we aren't eligible for it in the first place." She also said of the "ridiculous" claim: "[T]his $4 billion is pretty much like the last billion we read about in GOP press releases: a complete fabrication of overheated partisan fever dreams."

Media Matters previously documented that Fox Business Network's Elizabeth MacDonald, Fox News' Steve Doocy, and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh all made the false claim that ACORN would receive billions of dollars from the recovery bill. The Hill and the San Francisco Chronicle also repeated the falsehood.

From the February 2 Washington Times editorial:

As it stands the bill fulfills, at least to a degree, the wish lists of virtually every liberal in Washington and the 50 states. Less than 5 percent of the funds go to repairing the nation's deteriorating infrastructure - which was one of the original goals of the stimulus bill that President Obama sought to "put people to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges."

Instead, as a sampling: There's $75 million to help people stop smoking, $2.25 billion for national parks (whose chief lobbyist, as we have reported, is the son of House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis.), $20 billion for quicker depreciation and write-offs for equipment, $15 billion for college scholarships, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $335 million to treat and prevent sexually transmitted diseases, $600 million to buy a new fleet of cars for federal employees and government agencies, $650 million for coupons to help consumers convert TV sets from analog to digital, $400 million to research global warming, $2 billion to help subsidize child care, $1 billion for Amtrak, $4.19 billion for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program (much of which might go to ACORN, the discredited activist organization that the FBI is investigating for vote fraud), and on and on.

While tax credits specifically are denied to nonresident aliens, the legislation allows payment of checks to undocumented immigrants filing tax returns using an alternative number to the normal Social Security number. Some of the aforementioned projects may be commendable, but the package is hardly much of a stimulus change we can believe in. It's less stimulating than a kiss from your sister, or brother, as the case may be.

Posted In
Economy, Immigration, Effect on Social Services
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
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