The Gustavian Weekly

Obama’s anti-charity proposal | The Gustavian Weekly

By Andrew Evenson Staff Columnist | April 24, 2009 | Opinion

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.

39 Comments

Comments are the sole opinion of the visitor who submitted the comment and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author of the article, its editors, or The Gustavian Weekly or Gustavus Adolphus College as a whole.

  1. Darf says:

    True President Obama needs to act different in these times of need. He he should never turn his head when it comes to nonprofit.

  2. Stephen says:

    Actually global warning is a conspiracy theory. There are many of them running successfully for many years. We dont know what is the actual purpose of this type of theories.

  3. Obama will take a lot of time to realise all his promised plans… But, at least he’s doing something. We could say that from the former President!

  4. Sue says:

    “Actually global warning is a conspiracy theory”.Unless I’m mistaken the ice caps are melting,no conspiracy!

  5. Janet says:

    I would like to highlight the comment on helping each other out. Working together often achieves the best results.

  6. Yup its all a conspiracy!!

  7. excacly like stephen says in comment global warning is a conspiracy theory.i live in Poland and we have huge winter here! im freezing!

  8. Sam Bakker says:

    I think Obama is reacting correctly as this issue needs to be addressed. I am not convinced that it is the right path he is going down though. You are right about tax relating hand in hand with politics.

  9. I really don’t like the sound of it to be honest. I know it was awhile ago but I don’t think it was the right course of action.

  10. No Charity says:

    I’m against charity as well.

    Poor people don’t need charity, they need education and inspiration!!

  11. Jan Iye says:

    The word tax incentive itself means directing flow of funds towards certain activities, for which the government is willing to lose revenue as compared to others. At times it could be education, health, or infrastructure building. In this case, it is charity. By itself, this is nothing new.

  12. Cary Avers says:

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  13. matvin says:

    It is always a great pleasure in knowing about the proposal of the obama. That gives the best scope for anyone in knowing about the various things. That gives the better chance for the people to follow a certain rules and regulations in a quick manner.

  14. Bill says:

    Things can only be better now that he is president. Hopefully the poor will get a bit more than they used to.

  15. Rob says:

    It would be nice if he could ba compassionate to everyone but some groups will feel left out.

  16. Chad J says:

    I think things will get better in the long run. Nothing happens over night in the white house. I think he is doing a great job.

  17. Beast says:

    Gotta agree with Chad, things will get better and so far he has completely lived up to what I expected.

  18. betty says:

    Is so hard to understand politics. I want to belive that they act for the people but in their minds always have money and ego.

  19. John W says:

    “Actually global warning is a conspiracy theory.”

    Unless I’m mistaken the ice caps are melting,no conspiracy!

  20. Renee says:

    I think it’s just a matter of time that things start to take off. You have to wait it out a bit more to see the changes.

  21. Matt says:

    I think he can get some good results in the next years…

  22. Before he became the President, he has done too much talking that he will do this and that!! but after becoming the president he has yet to complete the 25% of what he has promised. Nothing is going to change during his leadership.

  23. jack says:

    i always believe things will gonna be better sometimes.
    just keep patients.

  24. henry ezell says:

    obama is a great president.

  25. Jeff Bridge says:

    What a nice guy he’s turned out to be!

  26. Well obama said it now let’s see how things pan out.

  27. Jay says:

    I don’t think global warming is a conspiracy theory. I mean, It snowed here in Texas this year. And the weather all over the US is crazy. I think there is some truth to what Obama is saying.

  28. I completely agree. Obama needs to get people to spend their time and effort into helping each other out, whether it be through charity or other means.

  29. […] instance, Obama’s anti-charity proposal has been the target of a great deal of comments that I would classify as […]

  30. mirc . chat says:

    That is very good comment you shared.Thank you so much that for you shared those things with us.Im wishing you to carry on with ur achivments.All the best.

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  36. Asher says:

    Obama is one of the most extraordinaries presidents in JAV, he had to promise a lot if he wanted to win and know we dan see a result of promises – some are done , some considerely didn’t have any prospects. And it isn’t his fault – it’s just how world spins around. Another thing about global warming, I think it’s a myth. Climat is changing all the time, starting with earth begging, its formation ago billions, billions of year and some little man can’t change in fifty years… Yeahh, it contribute a lot, but nothing to worry about…

  37. Extenze says:

    Actually global warning is a conspiracy theory”.Unless I’m mistaken the ice caps are melting,no conspiracy!

  38. buhalterine apskaita says:

    Obama will take a lot of time to realise all his promised plans.