President Obama recently released a proposal to reduce tax deductions for charitable giving. You might be thinking, “Why should I care? The tax code is boring, and President Obama is a liberal Democrat who really cares about poor people.” There are a couple of errors I see in this logic, but the biggest concern I have with the proposal is that Democrats and other leftward political groups are trying to dictate American social values by taking away the financial incentive to give to private charities and then giving those tax dollars to programs that hold liberal positions on social issues. In other words, instead of citizens like you and I deciding where we think our charity dollars will best serve the needs of others, the government will take more of your money, and politicians will decide where to use it.
I would first like to stress to you just how important the tax code is in American politics. It touches on almost every one of the hot button issues of today. Whether it’s defining marriage for filing status, environmental tax credits to prevent global warming or changing the deductions for charitable giving, the tax code shows which side is winning the current political debates, and your hard-earned cash is feeding this fire.
If you believe global warming is a myth, you should be really upset that tax credits are giving competitive advantages to businesses that rely on “green” technology. If you believe religion is an “opiate of the masses” and causes people to fight wars to determine which god is best, you should be really upset that churches are given favorable tax treatment as nonprofit organizations. The tax code is one of the main tools politicians use to allocate resources and values, so we should all show passionate dissent when we disagree with how our leaders are using this power.
The conservative stereotype of selfish, cold-hearted misers who don’t care about the less fortunate is, in my mind, extremely unfair and incorrect. The myth comes out of conservatives’ constant cries for lower taxes. For me, lower taxes are about liberty and freedom, not about accumulating massive amounts of wealth. Liberals want higher taxes so that the government can allocate funds to social programs, but conservatives want to keep the money they earned so that they can decide where it will be used in the future.
According to a 2006 article in The Chronicle for Philanthropy, Republicans actually give a larger portion of their incomes to charities than Democrats do. In my view, private charities are much more effective than government organizations. Perhaps Mississippi faired much better after Hurricane Katrina than Louisiana did because it relied on private charities more than Louisiana, which looked to the federal government to help the state recover.
I trust that President Obama believes his proposal to reduce tax deductions for charitable giving will benefit America, but my understanding of economics and belief in free market principles forces me to strongly disagree.
“During the current economic downturn, which has forced nonprofits to do more with less, any proposal which would result in a decrease in private giving will be a disaster for America’s charities, and for those who depend upon them,” said United Jewish Communities, an umbrella group for Jewish social-service charities. President Obama believes he can take more of your money and distribute it to the programs he wants funded.
As a pro-life conservative, I have a problem with more of my money funding abortion clinics when I could instead donate that money to the American Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity. Anti-war liberals should be concerned that future Republican presidents could use their extra tax dollars to fund military operations instead of PETA or the American Civil Liberties Union.
Both sides of the political spectrum should fight for liberty, and any attempt to replace one citizen’s social values with those of others violates our Constitution and defies the American ideals of liberty and justice for all. President Obama’s proposal is a direct hit to this ideal of American liberty.
President Obama should act in a completely different direction. During these difficult economic times, he should increase charitable deductions and encourage citizens to become involved with whichever private charitable organizations they believe will do the greatest amount of good for others. This requires personal investment of time and energy, not just money, and would have greater positive effects for the donors and those who are helped through the charities. We need to work together to improve the quality of life in our country, but this has nothing to do with paying more taxes. We need to get involved, help each other out and stop looking to our government to solve all of our problems.