JCPA: Praise and a little concern about budget


The Jewish Council for Public Affairs praised President Obama’s budget for providing funds to reform and invest in education, energy and health care, but like other Jewish groups also criticized the reduction in the charitable donation for taxpayers making more than $250,000. Here’s the group’s statement:

President Obama’s budget blueprint lays a strong foundation to make affordable healthcare available to all, says a leading Jewish advocacy group.   Today, President Obama revealed his budget
recommendations for Fiscal Year 2010.  Included among his proposals is a $634 billion reserve fund to expand and reform health care.  President Obama’s budget proposal also includes reforms and new investments to the nation’s education system and a commitment to take dramatic action to curb global climate change and promote energy security.  

Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA), made the following statement on the release of President Obama’s budget:

"President Obama has put forth a budget that proposes a serious down payment on three much-needed reforms: fixing our healthcare system, transforming our broken energy policy, and making America more competitive by investing in education.This proposal will serve as a strong blueprint for Congress as they move forward with the next year’s budget resolution and appropriations process. 

We are pleased President Obama has prioritized enactment of government policies to provide affordable health care, quality education and social services to the most vulnerable individuals in our society.  We are also pleased that the budget proposes mandatory funding for the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which aims to build, rehabilitate and preserve 1.5 million units of housing for the lowest income families over the next 10 years. The President’s proposal of $1 billion/year in new funding for Child Nutrition Programs also represents a solid start in making new investments in our nation’s children. However, considering the President’s pledge of ending child hunger by 2015, further investments in these programs will be needed in the congressional budget resolution if we are to make a serious down payment on achieving this laudable and realistic goal. We are committed to working with the President and Congress to improve upon and strengthen these provisions as his budget proposal makes its way through Congress. 

Finally, while we applaud the President for committing to pay for the proposed health care reserve fund, we are concerned that one of the mechanisms for financing it is to reduce the percentage of the value of charitable donations that can be claimed as a tax deduction each year for some tax brackets.  In this time of economic crisis, the nation’s non-profits and charities are stepping up to assist the most vulnerable. This specific funding source for the healthcare reserve fund would provide a disincentive for charitable giving at a time when our nation’s charities and non-profit organizations most need donations in order to continue and strengthen the critical services they provide.

Despite this concern, the JCPA is pleased that the budget puts forth bold proposals to address our nation’s most pressing problems. Budgets are not only numbers on a ledger, but rather moral documents that set forth national priorities. Overall we applaud the President’s proposal for its strong commitment to upholding two Jewish values we hold so dear — providing equal opportunity to all
and uplifting the needs of our the nation’s most vulnerable.

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