Today, in anticipation of a floor debate in the U.S. Senate, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America called upon members of that body to pass the Charity Aid Recovery & Empowerment [‘CARE’] Act sponsored by Senators Santorum (R-PA), Lieberman (D-CT) and others to deliver increased financial assistance to America’s charities through tax incentives and increases to key federal social welfare programs.
The CARE Act is a charitable resources bill and a critical component of what has come to be known as the faith-based initiative. As originally introduced, the CARE Act primarily addresses the “resources” element of this initiative through tax and spending provisions. It will spur new individual contributions to charities by providing a tax deduction of up to $800 per family to the millions of Americans who do not take itemized deductions on their taxes. It will allow people to rollover their Individual Retirement Account assets directly to charities without paying a tax penalty. It will provide increased incentives for donations to foodbanks, reduce the federal excise tax on charitable foundations and raises the cap on how much a corporation can contribute to charity. The CARE Act will help the working poor begin to build personal savings accounts through tax credits for matching contributions by banks. Finally, the CARE Act would increase the budget of the federal Social Service Block Grant program, the primary source of federal grants to social welfare charities, by more than one billion dollars over the next two years.
Nathan Diament, the Union’s director of public policy issued the following statement in advance of today’s Senate action:
The crisis confronting America’s charities has only grown worse over the past several months while the Senate has failed to pass the bipartisan compromise embodied in the CARE Act. While some activist groups and their allies have held these resources hostage to an agenda never raised by the original Santorum-Lieberman bill, we welcome the decision by Senators Santorum & Lieberman to make the extra effort to deliver these much needed resources to America’s charities and the people in need they serve. The Orthodox Jewish community continues to believe in and strongly support the efforts of President Bush and congressional leaders to empower America’s ‘armies of compassion.’ Senate passage of the CARE Act is an important step in the right direction.”