Thursday, October 07, 2004

NDOL: Broken Faith by Anne Kim

NDOL: Broken Faith by Anne Kim: "Take, for example, the president's centerpiece 'faith-based initiative,' which stalled in Congress. The initiative promised to open a floodgate of federal funding for faith-based institutions and community groups to provide a wide range of social services. But the White House barely lifted a finger to make it happen. Instead of crafting legislation that could win bipartisan support, it delegated its authority to House Republican leaders who took a purely partisan approach.
With White House consent, House Republicans drafted a bill that ignored the concerns of many Democrats and civil libertarians. They feared that federal money would be spent in support of religious proselytizing. They also objected to giving exemptions from employment discrimination laws to the groups providing social services under federal contracts. No surprise, the bill passed the House on a near party-line vote, but foundered in the Senate.
John DiIulio, a Democrat tapped by Bush to be the first head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, was so frustrated by the administration's unwillingness to work for broad bipartisan support for its faith-based initiative that he quit. In a now-famous memo, he said that the president knew the faith-based bill probably would go nowhere.
Describing it as a product of 'the most far-right House Republicans,' DiIulio slammed the proposal as an 'absolute political nonstarter' that 'bore few marks of 'compassionate conservatism.''
After this initial failure, the White House drastically scaled back its faithbased initiative into a package of tax cuts intended to promote charitable giving. The House and Senate have passed separate versions of this tax package, and it is likely to be the only artifact of the original faith-based initiative to be"

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