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U.S./world – Charity slump – Karl Rove’s role

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Plans by President Bush to boost religious charities and charitable giving have hit some big bumps.

In the face of a firestorm of criticism, the White House on Tuesday nixed a tentative deal to make it easier for government-funded religious charities discriminate against gays in return for Salvation Army support for Bush’s plan to increase federal funding for religious groups, The Washington Post reported July 11.

And House Republicans have trimmed Bush’s plan for new tax breaks, including helping the 70 percent of Americans who don’t itemize on their taxes, the Associated Press reported July 11.

Citing an internal Salvation Army document, the Post reported July 10 that the White House had made a “firm commitment” to issue a regulation protecting government-funded religious groups from state and city efforts to bar discrimination against gays in hiring and domestic-partner benefits.

The Salvation Army, the largest U.S. charity, had agreed in turn to promote Bush’s embattled plan to get more government funds to religious charities that deliver social services, the Post said.

But the day of that report, the White House nixed the idea after Democratic leaders in the Senate said the move would hurt Bush’s faith-based plan, the Post said.

AP said the tax-break bill, to be considered July 11 by the House Ways and Means Committee, would let taxpayers deduct only $25 in donations in 2002 and 2003.

The maximum deduction would grow slowly to $100 by 2010 – and $200 for couples filing together.

Under Bush’s plan, which also would have phased in the break, taxpayers would have been able to deduct all their contributions to charity – a plan that the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated would cost $84 billion over 10 years.

The deduction provision in the plan being considered July 11 will cost $6.4 billion.

For full story, go to The Washington Post [subscription only] and Northern Light.

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