Friday, April 29, 2005

WH plan to funnel Money to the Extreme religious Right

{The notice featured in this diary comes from a source "on the inside" who is fond of their job and will therefore remain nameless}

A seemingly innocuous memo was released today by the SBA, that essentially clears the way for the Federal government to directly fund the Republican's Theocratic allies.
For those of you who don't know the US SBA's job is to guarantee loans made by banks to small businesses. This means if the business fails, SBA will pay the lender roughly 75% of the remaining value of the loan. The guarantee allows large banks to take otherwise unacceptable risks and fund small and start-up businesses, which are traditionally very poor credit risks.If it works everybody wins, the economy grow, more people get jobs, the lender makes a profit etc. So Far so Good.

But my Spidey-sense started tingling today when my source sent me an SBA Information Notice entitled:

SBA Loans Allowed to For-Profit Subsidiaries of Not-For-Profit Organizations, Including Faith-Based Organizations

Seems harmless, but this "clarification" is Big Trouble

While this appears on the surface to be only a technical bulletin clarifying SBA's rules, the tone and emphasis of the notice make it very clear, what the real message is:

Pursuant to Executive Order 13342, signed by the President on June 1, 2004,
the SBA was, among other things, directed to incorporate community
organizations, including faith-based organizations, into the Agency's programs
and initiatives to the greatest extent legally possible.

In Washingtonese that meant the President expected SBA to move heaven and earth to twist the syntax of its rules to the maximum extent possible to find a way to fund these groups. And the SBA delivered:

The Agency is now clarifying that for-profit subsidiary companies of
community and faith-based organizations may be eligible for SBA financial
assistance. Clarifying is Washington speak for Changing
borrowers must meet certain eligibility requirements, found in subpart A
of 13 CFR Part 120. These regulations prohibit SBA loans to
not-for-profit businesses or businesses principally engaged in teaching,
instructing, counseling or indoctrinating religion or religious beliefs, whether
in a religious or secular setting.

Until now, it was considered inappropriate (not to mention of a violation of the establishment clause of the 1st amendment) for federal funds to go be used to promote or proselytize a single sectarian of religious viewpoint over another.
So while SBA money could be used to fund a bookstore carrying a wide range of books about all religions, it wouldn't say, fund the book-store inside of a mega-church that only carried copies of it's pastor's writings.

Well, those quaint standards and rules are gone now. While technically keeping the rule intact they've just created a loophole you could fly an Airbus through:

However, for-profit subsidiaries of not-for-profit organizations(including
community groups and faith-based organizations)..are eligible for
financial assistance.. so long as these subsidiaries are not principally engaged
in teaching, instructing, counseling, or indoctrinating religion or religious
beliefs. {emphasis original}

In non-lawyer that means that its perfectly fine to engage in "teaching, instructing, counseling, or indoctrinating religion or religious beliefs" just so long as they also create enough of a fig-leaf of "other business".

It very hard to see this as anything but a well timed plan to fund W's allies to the tune of several million dollars each. The same people pushing this expansion will be the people allowed to decide what constitutes "principally engaged" and something tells me they're going to have very lenient standards. What this means is that just as a major media, and public-relations war is brewing; W's allies can now free up a whole lot of their liquid cash reserves.

Any group such a Focus on the Family that has for-profit subsidiary (such as their publishing house) can now get about a million dollars (SBA loan ceiling) in federally guaranteed loan money) to finance their operations. This will allow them to use the money they raise from their faithful to be spent elsewhere, such as large media buys supporting the president's agenda.

This is also a very sneaky way for major financial institutions to get around campaign contribution limits. Banks and credit card companies, who owe the Republicans big time for the bankruptcy bill, can now return the favor. All the lender has to do is make loans to the "for profit" shell corporations of staunch Republican religious organizations, under the guise of SBA lending. While they can't use the loan funds directly to support a candidate, all money is interchangeable, and the organization, will suddenly have a lot more of to use however they see fit.

To make matters worse, the Banks won't even be donating their own money, they'll be donating yours and mine. Because SBA guarantees the loans, they have to cover the loss if they are defaulted on . This means when they aren't paid back, the lender force the SBA (Which means our tax dollars)to pay 75% of the balance, with interest!

The Republiban has said since the election that they would be seeking "payback" from this administration for their support. Who knew they meant it so literally?


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