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Soaking The Rich Means Crippling Churches, Charities, and Home Values

Friday, February 27, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

President Obama’s budget is built on a massive tax hike on upper income families. From the Washington Post:

Individuals who earn more than $200,000 a year and families who make more than $250,000 would also lose the tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration, meaning their top income tax rate would rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent, their investment income would be taxed at 20 percent rather than 15 percent and their deductions for mortgage interest, state and local taxes and charitable contributions would be reduced.

The attack on the mortgage interest rate deduction and the charitable deduction are simply hidden ways to increase the top rate beyond that of the Clinton years, but by using the deception, the Obama plan would devastate churches and charities that depend on the generosity of their highest income donors while also slamming the value of homes by reducing their value to borrowers.

I have argued with the FairTax advocates for years that their plan was a dangerous one because it struck at these two deductions which undergird so much of the American safety net and Americans’ wealth. If President Obama wants to raise rates above 39.6 percent, he should do so openly and honestly, and without doing enormous damage to the not-for-profit and housing sectors.

Democrats who vote for this scheme are voting against every church in the land and against the equity every American has in their home. Radical plans like this one make academics happy and voters angry. Very angry.

The GOP must immediately make clear that it will do all it can to defend churches and homeowners against this assault, and they must identify the 50 Democrats must vulnerable in 2010 and begin a very detailed web-based watch on what they say and do on these issues. It will be easy to explain why the plan assaults churches, synagogues, veterans’ organizations, childrens’s hospitals, private schools and not-for-profits of all sorts, and only slightly more difficult to explain that destroying part of the appeal of a home purchase hammers the entire housing market –from entry level to mansion– but these arguments have to be made again and again.

It is a radical plan, and no amount of smoke will cover that fact. Today’s Wall Street Journal editorial quickly covers the enormous, permanent expanision of government the budget proposes. President Obama did not push these radical ideas on the campaign trail, nor did any Democrat I am aware of. The Republicans and moderate Democrats have to stand up and refuse this invitation to fundamentally alter the American economy and its deeply embedded values of giving and home ownership.

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“One must take a stand. One simply must.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Read Michael Totten’s account of the attack on Christopher Hitchens, Jonathan Foreman and himself in Beirut. A very close call for them all, and the sort of reporting that brings the crisis in Lebanon into better focus.

Obama and Iraq; Ricks and Lobdell

Thursday, February 26, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Details on President Obama’s plans for Iraq are leaking, and while it is good news that Speaker Pelosi thinks he is planning on too many troops in Iraq after August of 2010, the lack of commitment to the longer term stability of the region is very troubling.

I’ll discuss the Obama plan as well as the success of the surge with the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks on today’s program. Ricks’ new The Gamble is a very detailed and riveting account of the turnaround in American policy in Iraq from 2006 through the 2008 election. I will tape two hours with him and play the first this week and the second the week of March 9.

After Ricks I will welcome into the studio longtime religion writer for the Los Angeles Times, William Lobdell, whose new book, Losing My Religion is receiving many great reviews and very strong sales. Though it may discomfit many of the Christians who read it, including me, it is a candid memoir that covers many of the major stories in American religion from the past dozen years.

The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace

If Lobdell’s account fills you with dread, be sure to take time throughout Lent to read Mark Roberts’ series on the season. (Roberts, btw, is a friend of Lobdell’s.) For every believer who loses their faith, there are thousands more every day who gain it. Thank God.

Summing Up The Sexual Revolution

Thursday, February 26, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

George Will summarizes Mary Eberstadt’s new essay, “Is Food The New Sex?,” in his new column:

Eberstadt says two generations of “social science replete with studies, surveys and regression analyses galore” have produced clear findings: “The sexual revolution — meaning the widespread extension of sex outside of marriage and frequently outside commitment of any kind — has had negative effects on many people, chiefly the most vulnerable; and it has also had clear financial costs to society at large.”

In 1965, the Moynihan Report sounded an alarm about 23.6 percent of African American children born out of wedlock. Today the figure for the entire American population is 38.5 percent, and 70.7 percent for African Americans. To that, add AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and the unquantifiable coarsening of the culture and devaluing of personal intimacy.

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