Allen: Charity should be the American way

The Daily Caller
February 6, 2013

“Wouldn’t it be better for the human spirit and for the soul of this nation to encourage people to accept more responsibility to care for one another, rather than leaving those tasks to paid bureaucrats?”

Ronald Reagan astutely posed this rhetorical question in 1982.

Sadly, Washington today is on a path contrary to President Reagan’s wisdom, moving in the opposite direction with tax policies whose consequences threaten to diminish charitable contributions in order to fatten the federal purse.

The first errant step has already been taken. The “fiscal cliff” deal rushed through at the beginning of the year includes a provision known as the Pease limitation, which diminishes the total value of itemized deductions a taxpayer can claim. Included within the Pease limitation is the deduction for charitable contributions. Further efforts to cap or otherwise limit deductions — and even to eliminate the charitable deduction altogether — are being discussed.

There is no question that taxes affect behavior. Witness golfer Phil Mickelson’s public musings about moving from high-tax California to a lower-tax place. Mickelson is not alone. Tiger Woods understandably moved from California to Florida years ago. It is well known that many people choose to move and retire to Florida or Texas precisely because they have no state income taxes. A good number of music artists prefer living in Tennessee or Nevada to living in California, since these states do not impose an income tax.

The latest census revealed that California, for the first time since it joined the Union in 1850, is not growing faster than the rest of the United States. The fast-growing states today are generally in the South and Mountain West. People are moving to these states because they are finding more job opportunities. To be successful, big and small enterprises decide to locate, invest or expand in business-friendly locations where the cost of operation is competitively lower. Tax burdens, energy costs, right-to-work laws, and a skilled workforce matter in business decisions and thus affect job and population growth.

The logical lesson is: tax policy promotes or inhibits both behavior and movement of capital. That is what makes recent and threatened tax-law changes that diminish the deductibility of charitable contributions so unsettling. Many charities rely on major donors, the very people who have the means to contribute $50,000 to $100,000 or more for cancer research, a world-class laboratory for university students, or a new interpretive center for the home of our nation’s first president. Yet in their zeal to “tax the rich,” Washington politicians are threatening to starve the charities that help our neediest citizens and enrich our lives and culture.

Americans are a generous people, contributing over $300 billion annually to charitable causes — over 75 percent from individuals. The charitable deduction in the tax code has encouraged Americans of financial means to help their fellow citizens and support nonprofit philanthropic efforts in higher education, medicine, religious-based rehab centers, the arts, and even the historic preservation of treasured presidential homes and historic sites.

Many Americans are unaware that some of the most significant presidential homes are conserved and preserved by private, charitable organizations that don’t receive a penny from government. In Virginia, George Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s cherished Monticello are privately supported, as is Rancho del Cielo in California, the Reagan Ranch where Ronald Reagan found peace and inspiration.

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It’s Time for Real Energy Action

The Daily Caller
October 27, 2011

Two months ago, President Obama announced his latest stimulus proposal, which is a continuation of the same failed policies we’ve seen over the last three years — higher taxes to fund more costly government spending programs.

Absent from the president’s rhetoric was any mention of unleashing America’s energy resources, a proven way to create more than a million new, good-paying jobs here in the USA.

Virginia and the nation deserve better. With 9.1 percent unemployment and more than 14 million Americans looking for work, it is time for this administration to start viewing America’s energy resources as a blessing, not a curse.

One of the major components of my comprehensive, pro-growth plan for jobs — “The Blueprint for America’s Comeback” — is the aggressive pursuit of energy freedom by opening up access to America’s plentiful energy resources and taking control of our own energy destiny.

Fortunately, an opportunity exists for the president to take real action right now to strengthen America’s energy security and create jobs.

Earlier this month, I joined Governor Bob McDonnell and leaders from across Virginia in urging the Obama administration to approve the construction of an advanced pipeline linking Canada and the United States.

The Keystone XL Project will bring more than 700,000 additional barrels of domestic and Canadian oil each day to refineries in Texas. Construction alone will mean jobs for as many as 20,000 Americans, and related economic activity is projected to bring around 100,000 additional hires. Property tax revenues in states through which the pipeline passes could exceed $5 billion, meaning more resources for schools, roads and public safety. And the energy flowing through the pipeline will be from our closest neighbor and ally, not from an unstable and unfriendly foreign regime.

With so much to gain, why is the White House delaying? The Obama administration has yet to approve the permit needed for construction to begin. Bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C. are standing in the way of a project that would create thousands of new jobs, increase our long-term supply of affordable energy and generate revenues without raising taxes.

When it comes to energy, this is just the latest contradiction between the president’s words and his actions. Since 2008, President Obama has touted the job-creating promise of his energy agenda. Instead, we see misused taxpayer funds for unreliable, expensive energy schemes; higher fuel prices; blocked energy development of American coal, oil and natural gas resources; and continued high unemployment over 9 percent.

The good news is that America has the most plentiful energy resources of any country in the world. Our reserves and recoverable oil, natural gas and coal exceed the resources of such energy giants as Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.

Despite this bounty, our dependence on foreign oil is greater today than it was in the days of President Jimmy Carter’s gas lines. Federal bureaucrats continue to hold America’s energy resources “off limits,” and promising ventures like the Keystone pipeline are stopped at the Canadian border.

Advancing a new freedom-to-work agenda for America

The Washington Examiner
October 6, 2011

Our Right-to-Work law is one of Virginia’s foundational strengths and competitive advantages.  The laws that protect workplace Freedom have made Virginia one of the best places to start or grow a business, but not everyone sees things as we do.

This is especially true in Washington.  Rather than recognizing the fact that Right-to-Work laws are good for everyone, President Obama’s administration and his allies seem bent on destroying them.

As I travel around Virginia, I am constantly reminded of the importance of our freedom to work.  Virginians remind me about the companies that have relocated to or expanded in Virginia since we declared that “Virginia is Open for Business!” in 1994.

Others recall those 50,000 Virginians who have left the welfare rolls to find gainful employment.  I often wonder how successful our economic development and ground-breaking welfare reform efforts would have been in a less job-friendly state.

These are not abstract concepts.  These are real jobs created because Virginia respects and protects our Right to Work.

Through executive fiat and the intrusive action of the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB), the Obama administration and their congressional and big labor allies are waging war on private employers under the guise of protecting workers.

They believe that more regulation and government control will protect jobs, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Businesses create jobs when entrepreneurs believe that their anticipated return on investment outweighs the risks.

Over-regulation creates uncertainty and additional risk, which in turn stifles investment and diminishes job opportunities.

The threat to Virginia’s jobs from Washington is real, and it must be checked.  From the President’s job-killing monstrous health-care dictates to his gigantic $1.5 trillion tax increase proposal and Executive Orders, bureaucracy and lawsuits trying to tell Boeing where it can build a business, the opponents of our freedom to work are seriously threatening.

That is why I have created a three-part Freedom to Work agenda that will 1) help America’s businesses create jobs; 2) save taxpayers money; and 3) protect the liberty of working men and women.