President Obama's glib assertion that his reduction in tax deductions will not reduce donations is absurd. His pathetic defense at his press conference -- that he would still give a $100 dollar check even if he got $11 less of tax deduction from it was both disingenuous and beside the point.
And his comment that his reduced deduction would only affect 1 percent or 2 percent of the nation misses the point that it is these folks who are doing almost half of the donating.
In 2006, the most recent year for which data is available, 4 million taxpayers had adjusted gross incomes of $200,000 or more. They comprised 3 percent of the tax returns, made 31 percent of the income, but donated 44 percent of all charitable contributions. Together, they provided charity with $81 billion in that year.
Obama's plan will cost them $10 billion in extra taxes on the income they allocated to charitable donations. How can the president be so glibly certain that they will not curtail their charitable contributions by a like amount or even more?Imagine all the harm Obama's program will cause. Churches will be hit most hard. They account for the largest share of charitable donations, but universities, disease research, hospitals, soup kitchens and cultural institutions will also be hard hit. So will international relief efforts that funnel aid abroad through churches or directly.
It is totally dishonest for Obama to pretend that his curtailment of these deductions won't hurt the poor. It will most directly impact them since most of the charities Obama is hurting focus on helping the impoverished.
This proposal is not about saving money. It is about controlling it -- by, in effect, transferring at least $11 billion a year from private philanthropy to government spending, Obama empowers the public sector at the expense of the voluntary one.
The voluntary sector has always been the backbone of compassion in the United States. Our charitable donations dwarf those of any other country. And our system of tax deductions for giving permits us to decide what charities are worthy of our generosity -- a decision Obama will transfer to the politicians under his program.