Washington Prowler

To the Left

Obamism marches on: Shauna Daly's new assignment. Charity ends with Obama. ACORN's national portal.

By 3.2.09

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
Shauna Daly, who for about a month was ensconced in the White House Counsel's Office as research director there, didn't stay very long in that position. It was announced late last week that Daly was leaving her White House post to become Research Director at the Democratic National Committee.

But DNC, White House, and Congressional Democrats say she was at counsel's office long enough. Daly did not waste her time in an office that had reams of Bush Administration documents related to such things as the firings of U.S. Attorneys, the use and internal debate over the USA PATRIOT Act, FISA, and the Scooter Libby and Karl Rove investigations, among others.

"She saw everything, and who knows what she was able to scan and pull out on data sticks," says a Senate Republican Judiciary Committee staffer. "We'll find out soon enough when we see what the DNC is putting out during [Sen. Patrick] Leahy's 'truth committee' hearings."

Daly, according to White House staff, was often in her office early and one of the last to leave the Old Executive Office Building, which does not jibe with official White House claims that Daly was not doing much in the office, which was one reason for her leaving.

"She realized that she could do more with all the material she saw outside of the building than inside, where she'd be bound by the rules and legalities of the White House Counsel's Office. Now she isn't," says a DNC staffer who works in the communications field. "She's good at what she does; her time at the White House means we've got a mother load of material that will have Republicans scrambling. At least that's what we hope."


OBAMA CHARITY CENTRAL
Lost in the coverage of the Obama Administration's 2010 budget proposal to limit the tax rate at which taxpayers can take itemized deductions for charitable giving is the administration's plan to create a government-financed fund that would mitigate losses charitable groups might suffer as a result of the tax increase on charitable giving.

"Obama is telling charities, 'Don't worry about the tax increase on your donors, government will be here to make up the difference if you have a down year because of my policies,'" says a Senate Joint Tax Committee staffer. "We're still trying to figure this one out, because it doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense."

Some House Democrat leadership aides believe the fund could be in the hundreds of millions. "We can't have charities losing desperately needed funds in times like this, because our wealthier citizens aren't willing to give," says one staffer in the Speaker of the House's office. When it was pointed out that the decrease in giving was due to the Obama Administration's essentially raising the tax on deductible giving, the aide said, "We're not raising the tax, we're making it harder for the wealthy to take advantage of a tax write-off."

That isn't accurate, however. In Obama's budget document, "A New Era of Responsibility -- Renewing America's Promise," the administration outlined a plan capping the tax rate that families with incomes over $250,000 can claim for itemized deductions at 28 percent. Those individuals subject to the 33 or 35 percent bracket who now claim itemized deductions at this rate will would find five to seven percent of their charitable contributions subject to income tax.

For example, a prospective charitable donor in the 35 percent bracket who gives a homeless shelter $100,000 under current law would reduce his income taxes by $35,000.

Under the Obama plan, the donor would only be able to deduct his gift at the 28 percent rate, meaning a $28,000 savings in taxes. This would mean an additional $7,000 in taxes and an almost 11 percent increase in taxes on the donation.

Sources in the Office of Management of Budget report that when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2010, charitable givers in the 39.5 percent tax bracket will be hit with a 19 percent tax on giving.

According to a Senate Democrat aide, who has been briefed on the federal fund to offset charitable losses, the government funds would come with strings attached. "If, say, a Catholic hospital sought and received those funds, it would be required to adhere to federal polices on issues like abortion. Or the hospital could simply not seek the funds to make up the difference," says the aide.


LEFT TECH
Several left-leaning nonprofit or community-based groups are seeking $250 million in funds budgeted in the stimulus bill for high-tech or Internet projects, to create what some Democrats in the House and Senate describe as a web portal modeled on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

"It would be a federally funded nonprofit entity, which would fund national, state and local websites designed to meet a public need," says one House member, who has been in a meeting with the organization called One Economy, which is one of the groups seeking money for the web-based project. "For example, if an organization wanted to create a state-based website of educational materials for its Hispanic citizens, the national online portal would be in a position to fund it, and allow other groups or other citizens to access the material."

"It's the kind of project that could become as important to the Internet as CPB was to television; it's a 21st century CPB if we can get it off the ground," says another House aide.

One Economy, and others, view the project as an organizing tool around its issues. Its stated goal is to focus on getting high-tech tools like high-speed Internet and computers into the hands of low-income individuals. But its political activities focus on such issues as living wages, organized labor, nationalized health care, affordable housing, among others. ACORN is provided its own links and resources on the One Economy site

Other organizations beyond One Economy are said to be seeking funding for such a project, all of them with ties to organized labor or the Democrat party.

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