Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has made a name for herself nationally with statements that inflame the left wing blogosphere and cable TV and seem to embolden her with right wing supporters and conservative talk radio. She has stirred things up again with a radio interview she gave last week on the eve of the vote on the federal stimulus package.
Among the thoughts she shared with KTLKâ€™s Chris Baker, as documented by the always vigilant http://dumpbachmann.blogspot.com/:
-Billions in the stimulus package are headed to the controversial community organizing group ACORN. â€œThis is the community organizer in chief paying off his best friends,â€ she says.
-A form of socialized medicine is written into the bill, with a national rationing board so that a doctor will no longer be able to make health care decisions.Â â€œItâ€™s breathtaking what they have done,â€ she says.
-The Obama administration will be using the census to crush Republican congressional districts and set up what amounts to an insurmountable Democratic majority, using the â€œmother lodeâ€ of data from the censusÂ â€œThe have-nots will be Republican districts that are left pouring money into Washington, D.C., to be redistributed out to the Democrat districts, which will suck up all of the money. I donâ€˜t know where theyâ€˜re going to go to get all of this money, because weâ€˜re running out of rich people in this country.
… Under Obama, â€˜Big Evilâ€ is anyone with a combinedÂ income of $100,00 or more.â€
Her comments set off a viral storm not seen since an ill-fated October interview with MSNBCâ€™s Chris Matthews in which she suggested the media should investigate members of Congress for un-Americanism, a tempest that nearly cost her re-election.
Her latest thoughts found their way nationally from Dump Bachmann to the Huffington Post, by way of the irascible blogger Twoputt Tommy in the Minnesota Progressive Project.
MSNBCâ€™s Keith Olbermann, pointing out that in Minnesota, Bachmann’s congressional district would reap the largest number of projected jobs under the stimulus package, picked up the challenge on Wednesdayâ€™s â€œCountdown,â€ opening a segment on her comments with this:
â€œLet me warn you:Â You are going to hear excerpts from what may be the craziest interview in American political history. And if I use the terms craziest … Republican… and Congress … Who else could I be talking about… Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.â€
Olbermann goes on to dismiss her arguments, saying the community organization ACORN is not under indictment, the contention about health care rationing comes from Betsy McCaughey, whom Olbermann has described as a paid shill for the drug companies; and that the states, not the White House, determine congressional districts.
Four minutes into a seven-minute segment, Olbermann asks a guest from The Nation magazine: â€œIs she a. dumb, b. crazy, or perhaps c: the perpetrator of the most brilliantly disguised brilliant political strategy in world history?â€
The website FactCheck.Org took a look at the ACORN argument about money in the stimulus bill and found a hint of accuracy in the claim in that ACORN might be eligible to apply for some funding. But it also chided congressional Republicans for stretching their argument so thin that it amounted to â€œfaulty logic.â€
Additionally, the credibility of Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, has raised more questions than answers, particularly since Olbermann took her on and accused her of being paid by the pharmaceutical industry. She has demanded an apology from him. He has told her to buy air time.
We asked Bachmannâ€™s office if it would like to respond to the accusations. Communications Director Dave Dziok provided this:
At the time of the [radio] interview, the amount of funding from the House version of the bill dedicated to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program was $4.19 billion. The final version that is now law and was made public after her interview, reduced the funding to $2 billion.
As for the money allocated to ACORN, there is no precise provision that said a certain amount of money would go directly to ACORN. However, the $2 billion that was passed in the final stimulus bill will go towards the Neighborhood Stabilization Program from which ACORN will likely receive money. ACORN has received at least $53 million from direct federal funding since 1994.
To dig a little deeper here, the 110th Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act last year which included standards that barred groups such as ACORN from receiving assistance under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. ACORN was rendered ineligible for funding with language that prevented any group indicted for federal election fraud or that hired an individual indicted for federal election fraud from accessing funds made available through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
The new stimulus bill that is now signed into law removed those safeguard provisions put in place by the 110th Congress, thus allowing ACORN to once again receive funds from the NSP. In fact, attached is a letter Rep. Bachmann signed along with other House members to Speaker Pelosi urging that she place those provisions passed last Congress into this latest economic stimulus bill. It never happened.
Here is just a sampling of ACORNâ€™s most recent media coverage:
â€œA suburban Philadelphia man is charged with forgery, allegedly altering 18 voter-registration applications during his employment with an organization [ACORN] whose voter-outreach efforts have become a flashpoint in the presidential campaign.â€ â€“ Associated Press, 10/23/08
â€œClifton Mitchell helped register nearly 2,000 voters for the community group ACORN. But not one of them actually existedâ€¦Â Mitchell was convicted last year and spent nearly three months in prison.â€ â€“ CNN, 10/22/08
â€œAn internal report by a lawyer for the community organizing group Acorn raises questions about whether the web of relationships among its 174 affiliates may have led to violations of federal lawsâ€¦Â The June 18 report, written by Elizabeth Kingsley, a Washington lawyer, spells out her concerns about potentially improper use of charitable dollars for political purposes; money transfers among the affiliates; and potential conflicts created by employees working for multiple affiliates, among other things.â€ â€“ New York Timesstrong>, 10/22/08
ACORN as an organization has not been indicted for voter fraud, but several of their employees have been, making the organization ineligible to receive funds according to the 2008 law. However, this stimulus bill once again opens them up to receive funding.
Regarding her comments about health care rationing, I need to point you to a recent Bloomberg article written by the reputable Betsy McCaughey, the former Lieutenant Governor of New York and an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Take a look: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&refer=columnist_mccaughey&sid=aLzfDxfbwhzs
The final bill provides $1.1 billion to conduct â€œcomparative effectiveness researchâ€ to evaluate the effectiveness of different preventative healthcare interventions.Â We should be concerned that the money for comparative effectiveness research could be used to sanction government rationing of health care goods and services, consistent with the draft House Appropriations Committee report that said that â€œmore expensive [treatments] will no longer be prescribedâ€ as a result of such research.
Essentially, doctors will have the government looking over there shoulders, guiding them as to the most cost-effective treatment based on a personâ€™s particular age and probability of success. So while you as a patient may still be meeting one on one with a doctor, his course of treatment will be influenced by the â€œFederal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.â€
To a certain degree, we expect some political influence from the White House in carrying out the census.Â After all, the Commerce Department is part of the Executive Branch. Â But, the plans now are for the control of it to lie directly within the White House under the care of Chief of Staff, who is also the former head of the Democratic Congressional Committee (DCCC), Rahm Emmanuel.Â Itâ€™s important to note that the announcement of this change in control was made to placate concerns within the Democrat community about the choice of a Republican Senator, Judd Gregg, for Commerce Secretary nominee.Â Clearly, the White House was fully aware of what implications came with this announced change.