Dems are pushing to pass a multitrillion-dollar spending bill called the Build Back Better Act. It ought to be called the Political Scam Bill. Buried in the 2,465 pages are numerous billion-dollar grants to unnamed community organizations for vague purposes such as promoting "community engagement" and "creating equitable civic infrastructure."
Translation: Your taxpayer dollars will fund the payrolls of left-wing advocacy groups between elections. In return, they become the campaign army staffing phone banks, harvesting ballots and escorting people to the polls on Election Day.
The Build Back Better bill is pouring tens of billions of dollars -- an unprecedented amount -- into community organizations. That's because the stakes are high. Congressional Democrats have failed to ram through the two voting bills that would change election rules to favor their party: H.R. 1 and H.R. 4. Build Back Better is the party's best shot at gaining an electoral advantage.
The bill not only bankrolls nonprofit community organizations but also adds to their clout by allowing them to hand out billions of dollars in seed money for local business startups.
In a new twist, the Small Business Administration is distributing huge sums to nonprofits that will serve as "incubators," disbursing funding to startup businesses in "underserved" areas. Curiously, the SBA has regional offices across the U.S. to help startups and could distribute the funds itself. But instead, it is empowering nonprofits by making them the middlemen.
Ninety percent of startups fail. There is no riskier place to put taxpayer money. Yet the bill establishes no standards for which businesses get the funding except that they have to be majority-owned by members of "underrepresented communities," including residents of high poverty areas and the formerly incarcerated. One thing they can't have is a track record. If they've been in business five years, they're ineligible.
From an economic point of view, it's taxpayer money down a rathole. Clearly, the goal is political. It's vote buying.
All in all, nonprofits are eligible for as much as $90 billion to support their own activities or disseminate to pals under this bill. That's equivalent of the entire 2020 budget of the state of Florida.
Historically, political machines that doled out benefits in exchange for votes were local, as in nineteenth century Boston, New York and Kansas City. "All there is to it," explained Kansas City political boss James Pendergast, is "doing things for people, then later on they'll do things for you."
Barack Obama, the community organizer who became president, was a master at machine politics. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) outsourced the important job of health plan enrollment to community organizations, handsomely funding them and entrusting them to register people to vote at the same time. Obamacare turned community organizations into a fifth estate with government funding but without government rules.
Now, Build Back Better is funding an even wider array of organizations. It allocates a whopping $5.7 billion "for community-led projects to stabilize neighborhoods." Translation: rallies and legal action to stop gentrification and "displacement."
There's also $5 billion for climate justice block grants to pay community organizations for, among other things, "facilitating engagement of disadvantaged communities in State and Federal processes." Translation: organizing protests and demanding seats on zoning boards.
Hundreds of millions of dollars target the higher mortality rates for Black women giving birth, but even on such a serious issue, the bill requires community-based organizations get priority over accredited medical centers, teaching hospitals and schools of nursing. Politics first.
For every left-wing community organization, there's a grant in Build Back Better. The causes range from Growing and Diversifying the Doula Workforce to Anti-Discrimination and Bias Training.
Republicans used to laugh about Obama's work experience as a community organizer. But if Build Back Better is passed, Democrats will have the last laugh, shoveling big money into leftist community organizations to tilt the scale against a fair two-party system.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and author of "The Next Pandemic," available at Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey.