What about our president’s vaunted intelligence, morality, and honesty?
Fans of Barack Obama are impressed with his ability to do two or three things at one time, as am I. Here is a classic twofer: he succeeded in exposing both the intellectual inadequacy and the moral bankruptcy of his worldview in one terse statement. As a bonus he threw in an example of his deceitful manipulativeness.
This came in his recent press conference when he was asked to defend his proposal to reduce the maximum deductibility of charitable donations to 28 percent. Under his proposed regime, someone who pays 39 cents in taxes on each earned dollar would only receive 28 cents off his total tax bill for each dollar contributed to the poor.
Here is the President’s explanation:
And what we’ve said is: Let’s go back to the rate that existed under Ronald Reagan. People are still going to be able to make charitable contributions. It just means, if you give $100 and you’re in this tax bracket, at a certain point, instead of being able to write off 36 percent or 39 percent, you’re writing off 28 percent.
Now, if it’s really a charitable contribution, I’m assuming that that shouldn’t be the determining factor as to whether you’re giving that $100 to the homeless shelter down the street.
And so this provision would affect about 1 percent of the American people. They would still get deductions. It’s just that they wouldn’t be able to write off 39 percent.
In that sense, what it would do is it would equalize — when I give $100, I’d get the same amount of deduction as when some — a bus driver who’s making $50,000 a year, or $40,000 a year, gives that same $100. Right now, he gets 28 percent — he gets to write off 28 percent. I get to write off 39 percent. I don’t think that’s fair.
So I think this was a good idea. I think it is a realistic way for us to raise some revenue from people who’ve benefited enormously over the last several years.
Now let’s measure these remarks by the three standards indicated earlier: intelligence, morality and honesty.
In terms of intelligence, as limned by reasonableness and logic, this is completely cockeyed. He is saying it is not fair for a rich person to save 39 cents of tax per charity dollar while a middle-class person only saves 28. The fallacy is obvious. The idea of charity being deducted is the notion that the society is being helped by direct action in a way which obviates the need for taxation.
Take that homeless shelter down the street. It receives some of its dollars from citizens, some from the government. There is no point in the government taking part of your dollar to give to the homeless shelter when you are prepared to give it the entire dollar.
Thus it is not true to say the dollar you give to the shelter is untaxed. On the contrary, it is taxed at the rate of 100 percent, a taxation to which you have submitted voluntarily. At this point, government has no interest in blocking your transaction, since you are achieving the same charitable end without its intervention.
If a man in a 39 percent tax bracket gives that dollar and we only allow him a 28 cent deduction, we are de facto taxing him at a rate of 111%. In essence, he has to write the government an eleven-dollar check to give the homeless shelter in order to get permission to give his hundred dollars to the same shelter. This is fairness… on which planet?
If anything, the argument could be advanced the other way. Since the 28 percent guy is voluntarily taxing himself 72 cents beyond the government requirement while the richer guy is only adding 61 to his obligation, the former should get 11 cents off his next dollar’s tax.
NOW TO MORALITY. Clearly, what propels this illogic is a sense that a person exercising disposition of his own philanthropy is a usurper, an interloper, an underminer of government as the sapient determiner of need. Who is this private bozo to say this widow should rather be helped than that orphan? It is best left to government as impersonal arbiter of fate and collector of vital statistics to apportion benefits based on its assessment of social equity.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
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