March 3, 2009

What's the latest evidence of Obama Evilness, according to Glenn Beck? On last night's show, it came in the form of his plans for changing the tax deduction structure for upper-income folks when they give charitably:

I don't think I've ever seen a president or a government do anything that I thought was out-and-out evil. I mean, we've gotten close. I think rendition is pretty darned evil. But this is enslaving, what our president has proposed and what is in this new bill. Changes in the tax deductions for charitable giving!

What makes this enslavement? Beck never really gives a coherent explanation, but it apparently has to do with how much he hates giving through taxes and how he loves to give through his own charitable donation.

Evidently, in Beck's world, it's important to keep up tax exemptions for charitable donations so that people can keep using them as a tax dodge.

Because reducing the donations' appeal as a tax dodge is the main thing the change does, according to the LA Times:

Under the president's plan, itemized tax deductions for charitable giving and mortgages would be capped for those earning more than $250,000 a year. Changes would be phased in gradually over the next few years. So in 2010, instead of getting a 33% or 35% deduction for charitable donations, Americans in the top income brackets, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, would get somewhere in the neighborhood of 28%.

In the Obama budget, the cuts on tax deductions for upper-income Americans -- coupled with cuts in government spending -- are projected to help raise $634 billion for a kind of big federal piggy bank that would be used to extend health coverage to the more than 47 million people in America who are uninsured and subsidize premiums for others who can't afford what they have.

Critics are already voicing concern that charities, hard hit by a decline in donations because of sinking stock prices on Wall Street, could suffer further. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said the potential loss of philanthropic giving is "clearly one of our concerns." And CNBC's Maria Bartiromo said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" today that the Obama blueprint comes with "such unintended consequences" and said of charitable donations, "Get ready for those to go off a cliff."

Republican Rep.Roy Blunt had a similar cow about the proposal:

The provision Blunt is referring to would apply only to families making more than $250,000 a year, and it would extend the 28 percent rate to all tax deductions, not just charitable giving. It was listed in Obama's budget as one of the ways the administration plans to pay for health care reform.

The rationale, according to the administration, is that those who make more than $250,000 get a higher tax benefit than those with a much lower annual income for the same nonprofit donation. This change would make the deduction for charitable giving more equitable.

"We need to start making the tough choices to get our economy moving again," White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said.

Blunt says the move would stifle giving at a time when charities are more dependent than ever on the goodwill of others. "We should be encouraging, not penalizing, the country's good Samaritans during a time when millions of Americans are relying on their work more than ever," he said.

Brundage disagreed, saying the change would scale the deduction back to the same rate it was at the end of President Ronald Reagan's administration. "Charitable giving was strong then, and it will be strong now especially as we get the economy growing again," she said.

Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic observes: "If wealthy people want to give money, then they should give, regardless of tax benefits. Also: if you're inclined to oppose higher taxes on rich people, wouldn't this be the first way you'd try to sell your opposition to the American people -- by essentially fretting about the huge drop in charitable contributions? My thought experiment is: if tax reform down the line were to gut all deductions, would charitable contributions totally dry up?"

In any event, it all certainly sounds like epitome of evil itself, doesn't it?

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