Beliefnet
"We have always found our better selves in sympathy and generosity. Americans will never write the epitaph of idealism. It emerges from our nature as a people, with a vision of the common good beyond profit and loss. Our national character shines in our compassion."
--Governor George W. Bush

Executive Summary

As President, Governor George W. Bush will commit himself and the nation to mobilizing the armies of compassion - charities and churches, communities and corporations, ministers and mentors-to save and change lives, as he has done in Texas. These groups are proving that real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.

That is why Governor Bush envisions a different role for government-a role based on the belief that government should turn first to faith-based organizations, charities, and community groups to help people in need. Resources should be devolved, not just to the states, but to the charities and neighborhood healers who need them most and should be available on a competitive basis to all organizations-including religious ones-that produce results. This is the next bold step of welfare reform.

To Eliminate Barriers to Faith-Based Action and to Encourage an Outpouring of Giving, Governor Bush will:

  • Expand "charitable choice" and remove barriers to the participation of faith-based groups in government programs.
  • Establish an "Office of Faith-Based Action" in the Executive Office of the President
  • Expand the federal charitable deduction to people who do not itemize.
  • Promote a new charitable state tax credit.
  • Provide new incentives for corporate giving.
  • As President, Governor Bush Will Lead a Determined Attack on Need, Launching Incentives to:

  • Break the cycle of violence that grips the 1.3 million children of prisoners.
  • Open federal after-school programs to community groups, churches, and charities.
  • Create a "Compassion Capital Fund" to invest in charitable "best practices."
  • Increase drug treatment funding and make faith-based and other non-medical drug treatment programs eligible for federal funds.
  • Establish pilot "Second Chance" homes for unwed teenage mothers, and faith-based pre-release programs for prisoners
  • Make permanent the $5,000 adoption tax credit.
  • Sharing the Dream

    America has never been more prosperous. But that prosperity is not shared by all. There is still too much poverty and despair amidst abundance. More than one out of six American families with children live with an income of $17,000 a year or less. There are roughly 14 million young people at risk or not reaching productive adulthood; more than two million children with a mother or father in prison; 520,000 children in foster care, more than one-fifth of whom are waiting to be adopted; and, in 1997, over one million babies were born to unwed mothers, 380,000 of whom were under the age of 20.

    As President, Governor Bush will commit the country to rallying the armies of compassion nationwide, as he has done in Texas, to ensure no one is left behind as we enter the 21st century.

    A Different Role for Government

    Governor Bush believes that real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. Thus, in seeking to help those in need, his administration will look first to faith-based organizations, charities, and community groups that have a track record of success. This is the next bold step in welfare reform.

    Governor Bush believes we should support private and faith-based efforts first and foremost because they work. But we should also promote them because the challenges they face are often greater than the resources they possess. He recognizes local efforts lack scale, good intentions often lack resources, and volunteerism alone is not enough. That is why he is proposing a different role for government based on these principles:

  • Government should energize private action, not control it, by identifying what works and helping to bring good ideas to scale.
  • Resources should be devolved, not just to the states, but to charities and neighborhood healers who need them most.
  • Those resources should be made available through contracts, certificates or granst on a competitive basis to all organizations-including religious ones. This competition will spur innovation and better results.
  • Organizations receiving resources should not be forced to compromise their core values and spiritual mission.
  • Participation in faith-based programs should be truly voluntary, and secular alternatives should exist for beneficiaries.
  • Government programs should be committed to pluralism-not discriminating for or against Christians, Muslims, or Jews-or good people of no faith at all.
  • As President, Governor Bush will follow these principles in mobilizing charities and churches, communities and corporations, ministers and mentors. He will dedicate about $8 billion in the first year of his presidency-or $38 billion over five years-to provide new tax incentives for giving, and to support charities and other private institutions.

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