Our friend The Motley Monk has some observations about tax reform, the USCCB and government funding of charities. Here is the first part:
If you’re really interested in tax reform, the USCCB and Catholic Charities USA may not be…
A Wall Street Journal op-ed calling into question whether tax “reform” should disallow the deduction for charitable donations offers a nugget of data that Catholics interested in tax reform should carefully consider.
The “nugget” is the total amount of money the federal government is pouring into charitable programs sponsored by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Charities USA (CC-USA). The op-ed notes:
Religious organizations also receive large infusions of federal funds. Catholic Charities USA receives more than half of its funding each year ($554 million in 2010) from federal grants. In 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops received $63 million…in federal grants.
It’s difficult to unpack the exact numbers because the recipients oftentimes use multiple names. That said, the USCCB directly received $34,767,249 in the form of three awards in 2012. That’s 17.3% of its 2012 annual budget. CC-USA directly received $34,767,249 in 2012 for 21 contracts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The President of the William Simon Foundation, James Piereson, who wrote the op-ed, stated:
These are reputable institutions, and many of the programs they sponsor are important. Nevertheless, in view of their dependence upon government funds, no one can seriously maintain that these groups are “independent.” Instead, they form one of the more powerful lobbying forces in Washington for increasing government spending, especially spending on tax-exempt groups.
Forget all of that “lobbying” to garner more federal largess which, in turn, only increases the federal tax burden on the less than 50% of U.S. citizens who pay income tax.
Bad as that is, all of that lobbying represents these organizations’ ever-increasing dependency upon the federal government to subsidize their “charitable” work. And that’s the problem: The government knows just how to pull those strings when it’s to the government’s advantage to do so.