Bush pushes charity – $8B plan to boost nonprofits

George W. Bush believes Americans are on the verge of a great philanthropic era – and he hopes his $8 billion tax proposal will usher in a new wave of generosity if he wins the presidency in November, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

His proposal would provide new tax breaks and other incentives to encourage American individuals and corporations to increase their giving, the Chronicle says.

As president, Bush also would push his controversial plan to allow religious groups to compete for federal funds to provide social services without compromising their religious character, the Chronicle reports.

Bush told the newspaper that his efforts to boost religious and other nonprofit groups reflect his belief that government is limited in its ability to provide welfare and other assistance.

“What the government cannot get people to do is love one another,” he said.  

“The next president needs to encourage the wealth to spread,” he said. “People need to give back.”

But actions speak louder than words – and Bush cites his own charitable giving history as proof of his commitment to philanthropy.

Giving records released by Bush show that his family contributions range from 2 percent to 16 percent of his family’s income.

In 1998, when he sold his ownership share in the Texas Rangers baseball team, Bush gave the most, donating nearly $335,000 from sale proceeds to charity.

While their biggest gifts support churches, Bush and his wife, Laura, also support United Ways, colleges and universities, literacy groups, children’s charities, and battered women’s shelters.

The Bushes have given nearly half a million dollars to charities so far.

Although Bush claims he will not make personal charity a campaign issue, public comparisons are likely to be made when he and Gore release their 1999 giving records in April, the Chronicle says.

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