Bush Plan: New Fight On Poverty Funds Religious Organizations FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 24 Jul 1999 10:52:44 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Associated Press - Thursday July 22 1999


     By RON FOURNIER - AP Political Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican presidential candidate George W.
Bush, issuing a call to America's ``armies of compassion,'' is
unveiling plans that would enlist charities, community groups and
religious organizations to help government deliver social services.

The Texas governor promises that, if elected, he would dedicate
$8 billion during his first year in the White House for tax credits
and grants as part of what he calls ``a bold new approach'' to
governing. The money would be used to encourage Americans to give
more to charity and increase the role of faith-based organizations
in the fight to reduce poverty, welfare rolls, criminal activity
and other social problems.

``In every instance where my administration sees a
responsibility to help people, we will look first to faith-based
organizations, charities and community groups that have shown their
ability to save and change lives,'' he said in a draft of a speech
he was delivering today at a Methodist church in Indianapolis.

``We will rally the armies of compassion in our communities to
fight a very different war against poverty and hopelessness - a
daily battle waged house to house and heart by heart,'' he said.

To increase charitable giving, Bush wants to allow taxpayers who
do not itemize deductions to be able to deduct their donations to
charity. He says 70 percent of taxpayers cannot claim charitable
donations currently.

`We will give the people who don't itemize the same incentives
as people who do - rewarding and encouraging giving by everyone in
our society, not just the wealthy,'' Bush said.

Another proposal would encourage states to give tax credits to
people who donate to charities that address poverty and other
specific social ills.

To help government solve society's toughest problems, Bush is
proposing several items to get faith-based organizations, community
groups and charities involved. The cornerstone initiative would
offer grants to groups, including ministries, that offer services
to children whose parents are in prison.

Bush said the prison population is exploding as tough crime laws
are enforced. The crackdown is good, he said, but it has left 1.2
million children with one or more parents in prison. ``They should
not be punished for the sins of their fathers,'' Bush said.

He also promises to change laws that hinder the abilities of
non-government groups to provide social services.

A breakdown of the costs of individual initiatives was not
immediately available.

The proposals, an extension of programs he embraced in Texas,
are offered by Bush as an example of his political philosophy that
seeks to promote conservative principles without hurting the poor
or alienating moderate voters. Democratic and Republican rivals
have scoffed at this ``compassionate conservative'' brand of

Republicans historically have championed the role of faith-based
organizations and American volunteerism in meeting the social needs
of the disadvantaged. Ronald Reagan pointedly urged this strategy
at a time when his administration was under harsh criticism for
sharp cuts in social spending.

President Clinton also has advocated a greater role for these
organizations. To make welfare reform work, he urged each of the
135,000 churches, synagogues and mosques that have more than 200
members to hire one person coming off welfare.

Numerous charitable groups have complained that there resources
are stretched thin.

Vice President Al Gore, who is seeking the Democratic
nomination, treaded on the traditionally Republican territory in
May when he said America must ``dare to embrace'' religious
programs and called for a ``new partnership'' between church and

While breaking new ground for a Democratic candidate, Gore's
broadly worded May address lacked many of the specifics outlined by
Bush today. It is not lost on Bush's political advisers that Gore
supporters, including President Clinton, have accused Bush of
avoiding detailed policies.

The Bush campaign released a list of 75 ``specific policy
positions'' of the Texas governor in reaction to Clinton's
suggestion Thursday that Bush was not being detailed enough.

``It is amazing that President Clinton continues to engage in
what he himself admitted was `not quite presidential' by talking
about a candidate who hasn't even received the Republican
nomination yet,'' spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said.

The list includes Bush's plans to cut the marginal tax rate (he
doesn't say how much he would cut it), ban unregulated ``soft
money'' contributions from labor unions and corporations and his
opposition to government mandated registration of guns.

Both the Bush and Gore campaigns hope to avoid conflict with
civil libertarians on issues involving the separation of church and
state. Gore said the new partnership he seeks between the
government and churches should be ``carefully tailored.'' Bush
advisers say federal money would pay for services delivered by
faith-based groups, not for the religious teachings espoused by the


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