The faith-based social services program championed by the Bush administration has failed to evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives and may discourage charitable giving to such causes, reports the liberal Washington Monthly magazine (October).
This sober assessment made by writer Amy Sullivan charges that while the Bush administration initially argued that the faith-based groups would be judged on their results, there has been little evaluation of the organizations receiving government funds in the last four years. A Pew study recently found that the administration largely relies on anecdotal evidence to support the view that faith-based programs out-perform secular services (although several independent social scientific studies have been conducted on these initiatives).
President Bush has more recently stressed the argument that faith-based programs are discriminated against and deserve the same chance as secular organizations, setting in motion a process where “well-established organizations that have provided services for decades are now competing with–and being displaced by–unproven, often less successful groups…”
Another important aspect of the Bush faith-based plan. was a proposed tax break to make it worthwhile for individuals to contribute to charities. But Sullivan writes that the charitable deduction plan was thrown “overboard in favor of repealing the estate tax.” The repeal of the estate tax even hurt charities by depriving them of an estimated $6 billion each year from bequests, “a traditional way of getting around tax payments,” Sullivan adds.
(Washington Monthly, 733 15th St., N.W., Suite 520, Washington, DC 20005)