“Extending the tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans is frankly unconscionable,” Yale Law School professor Daniel Markovits said Wednesday. With the website’s help, “donors can pledge their money to support the kinds of programs that will help families, create jobs, and set the country moving toward a just prosperity,” the professors said in announcing the initiative.
Markovits, Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker, and Cornell law professor Robert Hockett started the campaign. Hacker is co-author of “Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.”
The three recommend giving to groups such as Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Aid Society and Salvation Army that they say promote fairness, economic growth and a strong middle class. They say the contributions could replicate good government policy and, in effect, draft the government as a funding partner when the donation is tax deductible.
“The collective giving together becomes almost a kind of shadow fiscal policy,” Markovits said.
Fun fact about Hacker: He’s been called “the godfather of the public option.” I have no objection to charitable donations, whatever the motive for them might be, but I do have two questions about their suggested list of recipients. One: If this is all about “economic growth” and job creation, why limit the list to charities? Last year we dropped almost $800 billion of taxpayer money on, ahem, “shovel-ready projects” to stimulate the economy. If that’s the way to kickstart hiring, why not direct our tax cut savings to similar projects instead of to the Salvation Army? Granted, donations of that sort wouldn’t be tax deductible, but that’s a small price to pay for absolution of liberal guilt over one’s paycheck. Besides, wouldn’t it be comforting to know that “Jamming for Dollars” and other worthy stimulus projects are getting another cash infusion?
Two: Isn’t there one very special organization missing from their list? These guys didn’t launch their website because they’re worried that people aren’t donating enough to charity; they’re aggrieved because people aren’t “donating” enough to the government. But there’s an easy way to solve that, thanks to the Treasury Department: You could … donate to the government! Yes, really! There was a splashy blogosphere meme about that last year and everything. In fact, the feds now even have a handy online donation page for your convenience. Donations are, it should be noted, earmarked for paying down the national debt, not for flushing down the stimulus toilet, but I’m sure that could be tweaked with a little progressive grassroots pressure on the White House. There’s nothing keeping that tax cut dividend in your pocket (and if you use the calculator on the site, you’ll see that it’s not just “the rich” who are getting one). So c’mon. Dig deep.