Will This Be a Banner Year for Charitable Giving?

Wage and income gains for working and middle class families may result in a surprise boost for charitable organizations this holiday season.

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The East Room of the White House is decorated for the holiday season Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

’Tis the Season

With the economy growing stronger by the quarter, and the stock market performing admirably- even historically- consumer confidence is up as we head into the biggest shopping season of the year.

This is, of course, excellent news for retailers and just about everyone else.

In more good news, 401K’s are looking far more robust than they did five years ago, and much better than they looked three years ago. Unemployment is hitting record lows. Indeed, businesses of every size are struggling to find enough people to fill open positions.

Which is a rather good problem to have, especially for wage-earners. For example, banking giant Bank of America has announced its intention to attract and keep entry-level employees by raising their minimum hourly wage to $20.

But besides retailers, and American families who have a little extra in the holiday budget this year, there is another group who may reap the benefits of the Trump administration’s tax policies- and about time.

Charitable organizations.

Conservatives give. Will Trump supporters who have benefitted from the Trump economy give? Religiously observant people, many of whom comprise Trump’s base, are likely givers. It may be that religious Trumpers will feel the need to give even more so this year, as they believe themselves to have found a true champion and protector in Donald Trump.

Will the wealthy be sharing their wealth this holiday season? They may believe the alarmists and/or Never Trumpers who keep assuring everyone that a recession is imminent- with an increasingly desperate air of “please let a recession be imminent”.

Even if Trump supporters express their delight at the burgeoning economy in the form of a charitable gifts bumper crop this year, it is still possible that this may prove another poor year for giving since Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act raised the standard deduction above the amount many families would normally give to charities and write off on their taxes.

And the chilling effect that the Trump tax cut rule may have on charitable gifts exceeding a billion dollars remains to be seen.

While eliminating tax loopholes exploited by the ultra-wealthy to under-pay their taxes is a good thing, less money donated to worthwhile charitable organizations dedicated to helping the least fortunate is not.

For charitable organizations, the Trump tax plan held a not-insignificant amount of bad news. One part of the Trump tax cuts that didn’t really get much attention in the media was the capping of charitable gift tax advantages- closing the billion dollar loophole.

This change is intended to prevent the ultra-wealthy from using charitable contributions to cheat Uncle Sam.

Democrats running for president would have voters believe that the Trump tax cuts have only benefitted the wealthy, which is why this news hasn’t been of much interest to many in the media.

That the Trump tax cuts closed a loophole misused by billionaires for tax sheltering purposes flies in the face of the Democratic Party’s narrative.

Or rather, it flies in the face of the narrative Democrats should be using to defeat Donald Trump; that he is a wealthy elitist, a New York celebrity on a mission to enrich himself and his friends at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

As effective as this line of attack might have proved against Trump, Democrats haven’t bothered with it much. It is, however, the only argument likely to have any chance of dismantling the prevalent idea on the right that Trump is a pragmatic, down-to-earth, working everyman of the people, by the people and for the people.

Instead of an effective and simple message to counter-balance Trump’s very effective displays of straight-forward, off-the-cuff, average Joe, working-class ethics- his “school of hard knocks” affectations- Democrats have instead chosen to go with the message that Trump is everything evil under the sun.

He is, according to current Democratic consensus, the epitome of all evil.

Trump is Hitler and the Devil himself, rolled into one. He is racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, xenophobic and any other hyperbolic purgative Democrats feel like throwing at him from every 24-hour news network.

He is a spy for Russia, a dictator trying to undermine U.S. elections, a traitor and a murderer. He is a rapist, a womanizer, a mobster, a failure, a b-lister, a has-been, a never-was. He’s barely even human. It’s like a sort-of evil bingo.

If the Democrats making these accusations were Christians, they’d call him the anti-Christ.

That Democrats seem confident they can sell this extreme line of reasoning to anyone who isn’t already a Democrat planning to vote Democrat is somewhat mystifying.

It is not even necessary; Democrats don’t need to convince undecided voters or anyone else that Trump is the root of all evil, Hitler, or even a murderer of little children; they only need to convince anyone not planning on voting Democrat in 2020 to just stay home on election day.

Rather than hitting Trump where it might actually hurt- i.e. reminding his loyal army of Trump supporters that their hero is really another Royal Peer of the Realm, a wealthy elitist, a Hillary Clinton-elbow rubbing former Democrat- piling on everything but the kitchen sink makes all the charges seem overblown, exaggerated.

Partisan.

Taken as a whole, the message Democrats are sending voters that Trump is a sort-of negative adjective super-cipher is simply too easily batted aside, dismissed as theatrics and histrionics; mere political mudslinging from swamp-dwellers with no shortage of the substance.

And oddly, rather than hardening Trump supporters against him, calling Trump “Hitler” and accusing him of running concentration camps at the U.S. Southern border only makes them want to dig in further to protect him.

Meanwhile, independent and undecided voters aren’t much more impressed with the Democratic argument against Trump if polls are to be believed. It seems too much like a strategy to sling as much mud as possible at a political rival until something finally sticks.

With the increasingly desperate air of “please let something stick.”

If this holiday season is a great year for charitable organization fundraisers, Democrats- and their loyal sympathizers in the press- may find the “Trump is Evil Incarnate” line ever more difficult to sell.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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