Fox News revives ACORN-funding bogeyman to attack Obama budget

Fox News host Bill Hemmer raised the tired specter of ACORN receiving federal funding to attack Department of Housing and Urban Development funding included in President Obama's 2011 budget proposal. Conservatives in the media have exhaustively cited the possibility of federal money going to ACORN to attack health care reform legislation, the financial bailout bill, and the economic recovery act.

Hemmer, American Spectator use funding for long-established HUD grant program to fearmonger about budget

Hemmer: “We're learning the community organizing group ACORN may stand to benefit from this $3.8 trillion proposal.” From the February 3 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

HEMMER: Quick update now on the budget. We're learning the community organization group ACORN may stand to benefit from this $3.8 trillion proposal. ACORN and its affiliates could be eligible to tap into nearly $4 billion set aside from money that's part of the House and Urban Development program -- that's HUD. HUD has a proposed budget of $48 billion in fiscal year 2011. Now, there is no chance ACORN will get anywhere near the $4 billion in funding. There's plenty of competition out there from other community-based groups. It'll compete for those funds against others. You might remember Congress took steps in the past year to prevent taxpayer funding of ACORN, just about a year ago.

Spectator's Vadum: Money “from a congressional slush fund known as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program ... pass[es] indirectly to ACORN. In a February 2 article on the American Spectator website, Matthew Vadum wrote:

ACORN and other left-wing advocacy groups could be eligible for up to $3.99 billion in federal funding included in the $3.83 trillion fiscal 2011 budget blueprint that President Obama unveiled yesterday.

The $3.99 billion comes from a congressional slush fund known as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) $48.5 billion fiscal 2011 budget. CDBG grants, which are awarded to states and localities, pass indirectly to ACORN.

Obama budget proposal does not direct funding to ACORN

Proposal does not mention ACORN. Media Matters for America searched Obama's 2011 budget proposal. The proposal contains no language specific to ACORN.

Conservatives previously cited ACORN to attack legislation that did not contain language mentioning the group

Media conservatives cited ACORN to demonize health care reform legislation. Media conservatives, including The Weekly Standard and Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, attacked the Senate health care reform bill by citing a general provision in the legislation to raise the possibility that ACORN would receive funding under the bill. Media Matters searched the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Sen. Harry Reid's manager's amendment. Neither the Senate health care reform bill nor the manager's amendment to the bill contained language mentioning ACORN.

Media claimed Democrats were attempting to direct millions of dollars in government money to ACORN in the financial bailout bill. During debate over the 2008 financial bailout bill, media figures advanced the claim that Democrats sought to direct millions in funding to ACORN. Neither the draft proposal nor the final version of the bill contained any language mentioning ACORN. Those making the false claim were misrepresenting a provision -- later removed -- that would have directed 20 percent of any profits realized on troubled assets purchased under the plan into two previously established funds: the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund, funds that would have been distributed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the form of block grants to states, which would then award grants to qualified applicants.

Media figures adopted GOP spin that economic recovery act awarded funds to ACORN. During the legislative debate over the 2009 Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, numerous media figures adopted the GOP spin that the stimulus bill awarded funds to ACORN, despite the fact that no language in the legislation mentioned the group. At one point, conservative radio host Bill Cunningham claimed the legislation gave “up to $4.2 trillion” to ACORN.