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Sanders on ACORN vote: Focusing our anger- Read this. it's spot on

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cali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 04:43 AM
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Sanders on ACORN vote: Focusing our anger- Read this. it's spot on
The American people are angry -- and they should be angry. But it's important to understand why we're angry, why we're frustrated and the direction in which we have to channel our anger if we are going to constructively address the real causes of the problems facing our country and improve our lives. It's important that we not let our anger be deflected.

We should all be angry that, because of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of some extremely well-paid CEOs on Wall Street, our country was plunged into a financial meltdown and the worst economic decline since the 1930s.

We should all be angry that today, 46 million Americans have no health insurance, 45,000 needlessly die each year as a result, and that, despite paying almost twice as much per capita as any other country, we remain the only industrialized nation that doesn't provide health care to all of its people.

We should all be angry that six years ago a war in Iraq was launched that never should have been waged in the first place resulting in the deaths of thousands of brave Americans and trillions of dollars of deficit spending.

We should all be angry that as a result of disastrous trade policies we have seen corporate America invest


have recently been attacked by the right-wing media (Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, etc.) for being one of seven senators who last week voted against an amendment which would prohibit the federal government from providing grants to an organization called ACORN. Angry people from across the country and Vermont have contacted my office in opposition to that vote.

This amendment came to the floor because several employees of ACORN -- an organization designed to help low-income people find affordable housing, decent jobs and access to banking services -- were caught on a videotape making outrageous statements about providing assistance to people to set up a house of prostitution. What these ACORN employees did was wrong, and I am glad they have been fired. But why single out ACORN? A number of other organizations have been involved in far worse activities.

Pfizer recently was fined $2.3 billion for fraud against the federal government. Nine American Airlines employees were led off in handcuffs because of alleged drug smuggling. Employees of Blackwater, a company which provides military services to the U.S. government, have been charged with manslaughter. And the list goes on and on. All of these companies and many more have relationships with the federal government.

So why did I vote against the ACORN amendment? The answer is pretty simple. There are thousands of organizations across our country, including many in Vermont, that apply for federal grants or contracts. There is no doubt that many of them have employees who have made serious mistakes. We currently have a long-established, nonpartisan process which works well in examining organizations that apply for federal grants and determining if they are capable or should be asked to carry out the required mission.

If we begin, as this amendment does, to have votes on each and every grant recipient on the floor of the Senate or House, two things will likely happen. First, it will open the floodgates of political partisanship with regard to the awarding of federal grants. Conservatives will go after those organizations deemed to be liberal or progressive, and progressives will go after conservative organizations. Secondly, at a time when our country faces enormous problems and when we have a $3 trillion budget, Congress could end up spending huge amounts of time debating federal grants rather than focusing on far more substantive issues.

President Obama, the Congress and the American people are now facing some of the most serious problems in the modern history of our country. In my view, the American people have a right to be angry, but it is vital that we focus that anger on those issues that will shape our country for generations to come.
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