• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • President Obama's War on Civil Society

    First came President Barack Obama’s proposal to reduce the tax deductions for charitable contributions. Now Cash for Clunkers, as predicted, is also hurting charities nationwide. USA Today reports:

    Charities across the country are concerned that the popular “cash-for-clunkers” program will entice people to junk old cars for credit toward new ones rather than donate them.

    “We know there’s going to be a significant impact,” says Chad Iseman, director of the Kidney Cars program for the National Kidney Foundation. Iseman says the foundation gets about 19% of its annual revenue from selling donated cars. The charity said it estimates a 10% to 15% decline because of the federal rebates.

    “Really, the only question is to what degree cash-for-clunkers is going to affect our bottom line and our ability to serve our constituents,” says Iseman, who, along with Goodwill CEO Jim Gibbons, met with members of Congress in April to express concern.

    In the 1980s and 1990s, Washington consistently spent $21,000 per household. By 2019 under President Obama’s budget, Washington would be spending $33,000 per household. As Heritage fellow Ryan Messmore explains, every little expansion of government comes at the cost to civil society:

    As government claims responsibility for more tasks, it absorbs the allegiance that citizens once placed in other relationships and forms of association. When the federal government assumes more responsibility for fulfilling the moral obligations among citizens, it tends to undermine the perceived significance and authority of local institutions and communities.

    This encourages citizens, instead of looking to their families, churches, or local communities for guidance and assistance, to depend on the government for education, welfare, and various other services. As individuals begin to look more consistently to the government for support, the institutions that are able to generate virtues like trust and responsibility begin to lose their sway in the community. Excessive bureaucratic centralization thus sets in motion a dangerous cycle of dependence and social decay.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    32 Responses to President Obama's War on Civil Society

    1. Edward Hedquist says:

      I am surprised that Obama has not come out to say he wants to Tax the $4500 given consumers who trade in their clunkers. Is that rebate taxable???

    2. Marcel Morrissette says:

      Obama is clearly a progressive Marxist, and in his perfect world EVERYTHING must be controlled by the Federal Gov't. States had better wake up as well as freedom loving Americans.

    3. Dave, Virginia says:

      Sure it's taxable…for the rest of us…

      Consider this: GM (Gov Mtrs) will unveil their $4000.00 clown car shortly. Here is social democratic wisdom:

      $4500 clunker rebate – $4000.00 car = $500.00 cash back. That will even further exacerbate the sale of 'pre-owned' vehicles.

    4. Dale, Cincinnati says:

      In the 60' welfare as we know it today was created and with it came the destruction of the family unit. The result is rampant unemployment and crime in our major metropolitan areas. This was followed by an ever increasing assault on religion and "Christian" faith based institutions by the ACLU and media. Now, Washington is intent on wiping out the community. Somehow this nation must return to a democratic republic form of government. The states need to demand that Washington quite robbing the citizens, leaving little for states and local communities. Again, I believe that one solution is a constitutional amendment giving the states the power to set and pay the salaries, office operating costs and benefit packages of their respective senators and U.S. representatives. The would be an ever present reminder of who they work for.

    5. Linda Carlsbad, CA says:

      Is any one surprised, the people that are running our government are basically uneducated in business. They are government people, government doesn't know how to make a profit. It doesn't have too,they just print what ever their short. Maybe there is a bigger plan, the dealers are in debt for all these cash for clunkers, they haven't been paid yet! Will they pay them? These are the same people who are wanting to run our health care, what a joke! This is why government should not be allowed to take over our private industry, they have no business sense, thats why they work for the government!

    6. Daniel Hollywood, Ch says:

      We knew back during the Elections and the debates that he was a Socialist but the Media shoved him down everyones throat. Some of us had sense to not vote for him, the trouble was not enough of our voters used their brains and just listened to the media. People wake up in seven short months he has tried to destroy this country from the bottom up. Its time for true conservatives to wake up, get rid of this current house and Senate in the next election and start gromin a Proper candiate for President in 2012, the time to start is now.

    7. jim smith says:

      This bunch in Washington is so incompetent, it has no ability to get anything right. Even "small potatoes" projects like Cash for Clunkers is managed by Keystone Kops rejects. Dumb is the most obvious intellectual attribute these "klowns" have. When you have legislation too long for its writers to read, you are inviting anarchy. Republicans must hire all the really, really good lawyers who specialize in repealing current and proposed laws. NOW!

    8. Keith somewhere in t says:

      What Congress giveth, Congress may taketh away. I've used the charitable tax deduction, but do donors want Congress to determine to whom they give? Let's stop whining about legislative fiat when it hurts, but embrace it when we're donating-for our benefit. If one wants to give, don't let Congress dictate to you.

    9. Dave Chelsea, MI says:

      From each according to their ability, to each accourding to their need — Welcome to a brave new world, Comrades.

    10. Charles-Odessa says:

      The President appeals to our good faith by saying "We are our brothers keeper". Just before that, he penalizes people who donate.

      Double talk and he forgets that "Keeper" means the individual who wants to give is different from the taxpayer who is forced to give up.

    11. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      What almost everyone is missing is the fact that

      "Cash for Clunkers" is just another "scam" thought up by Obama and/or his goons. Many of the

      vehicles that are traded are covertly sent out the back door of the dealerships then sold to brokers that resell them to other "used car" dealers. The profites are split between all involved. Another reason we should trust Obama and the Democrats.

    12. Tim Az says:

      I suggest that all the vehicles the dealers now have. Be held for resale until and unless the Govt. pays up for these clunckers. Put them back on the road and get a little money back instead of taking a total loss on this Chicago deal.

    13. Ben C, Ann Arbor says:

      It is the unintended effects of an action that must be accounted for by those who intiate the action.

    14. curt L. Columbus, O says:

      I will not rest until the executive branch is reduced to about 20–non union–employees. (Excepting military and state dept of course)

      If that's impossible, then I'd settle for congress having a staff budget of $1000 per member per year.

      If that still is unworkable, how about we pay our debt by selling all federal property and mineral rights to U.S citizens at market value. Since the washington elite doesn't want the oil, we'll drill for it ourselves and happy keep ALL the proceeds.

      If that too is a no go, maybe we can sequester the supreme court until they rule out every extra- constitutional law passed during the last 110 years. If that happened, the first three paragraphs would take care of themselves.

    15. Nelia, AZ says:

      Obama claims he has a moral obligation to reform healthcare in the USA.

      His moral obligation is: to protect and uphold the Constitution, to keep the USA free, to keep its citizens safe from harm, to keep the USA free of debt, to safeguard the practice of all religions, to protect our borders, to protect the right of assembly and free speech, to uphold the right of private citizens to bear arms and to assure the right of free, uncoerced elections. Seems to me he should have his hands full just doing the job he was elected to do.

    16. Duane Phinney Pensa says:

      "Somehow this nation must return to a democratic republic form of government."

      I fear it's to late. When you have more voters on the dole, receiving all kinds of benefits, they will vote for the party that gives them the most goodies and there are a bunch of them.

      April 15th the producers pay their taxes, those on the dole get a welfare check (EIC) for up to $5,657 just for pumping out kids.

      The very first thing BHO did on taking office was reverse all of the welfare reforms of the 1990s. Now states get rewarded for increasing the welfare rolls.

    17. Louis L Cesar F Levy says:

      It is very important that people understand that what moves our leaders goes beyond themselves and is the psychological part(the most dangerous)of the war against the West.Being therefore wide awake and refusing whatever pinpoints to an unknown will to sabotage our values, goods and way of life is the Right attitude so that our leaders will understand how far they were and that without being against them, we stay vigilent and refuse the Enemy's schemes.

    18. James Pratt, Utah says:

      Presidential self-righteous, "My brother's keeper" statements are arrogant attempts to patronize the weak-knees and scold the rest of us who give to charities. I have donated regularly through faith-based and family charities my entire life. This building of health-care sand castles on top of an already demolished grainy foundation of medicare, social security, and "Great Society" foundations by liberal children in control of the piggy bank will be washing away our individual abilities to give as it crumbles under massive waves of inflated printed money, increased debts immorally shifted to the children, loss of employment on top of that; God help us to stand against this and other socialist demagoguery that we may truly continue being the brother's keeper we have always proven to be.

    19. dixie_heart, la says:

      They've got what it takes to take what we've got.

    20. Mike Rapkoch, Billin says:

      So many responses to this article. So much talk of economic policy, taxes, socialism, etc. But the heart–the very core–of the issue is too often missed by conservatives and libertarians and all purely political respondents.

      The crisis is so far beyond politics and so deeply buried by pragmatic amalysis that no solution via the mechanism of purely human action will make the tiniest dent in the nation's and the world's depravity. For this is a metaphysical matter beyond bromides or changes in political control. The Culture, the person, the Truth is falling quickly into depravity and we must begin to understand that the real crisis is in the utter abandonment of the Transcendent, of the Person of God. We have refused the Cross.

      We are plunging into the abyss of nihilism. Politics has been sucked ito the void every bit as much as has the person, each person. We are caught up in the never ending battle of the Spirit. Modern (or post-modern if you prefer)man has been ably defined by C.S. Lewis–man has been abolished (See: The Abolition of Man). He has neither face nor chest. In a very real sense he has been defined out of existence and all we have left are 6 billion cogs in a pointless machine.

      We must come firmly to grips with the metaphysical collapse of this world lest we surrender without a fight, or without even realizing a war is being fought throughout Creation and to the victor of the purely worldly war are the spoils–our selves, our children.

      I urge the reader to google up David B. Hart's essay "Christ or Nothing." Read it, digest it even though at times it may sour in your stomach, and most crucially hear Hart's message. We are in a Spiritual, moral, metaphysical war on a scale and of a sort unprecedented in the history of the world. Politics has become the world's religion and we are in the very jaws of the evil that comes from the minds and hearts of the men and women who built the Tower of Babel. Read or re-read the Biblical account of the Tower; see the consequences of what Michael Oakeshott called "trying to reach heaven on the cheap."

      We are at war with an enemy that knows nothing of the Geneva Convention, the Just War Theory, the Principle of Absolute Truth. And that enemy is unconstrained in his tactics. If we do not come and quickly to understand the True nature of the war then all the politics in the world cannot save us.

      Mike

    21. Paul Rinderle says:

      "This encourages citizens, instead of looking to their families, churches, or local communities for guidance and assistance, to depend on the government for education, welfare, and various other services"

      The cash for clunkers and its displacement of traditional contributors to charity will pale in significance as AmeriCorp{domestic peace corp)becomes dominant.

      AmeriCorp has already been implicated in a half million dollar scandal with Michelle Obama's dear friend Dennis Johnson the ex NBA player and now Mayor of San Diego who had to repay this money.

      AmeriCorp will dwarf ACORN and be just as an insidious non American organization.

      Its a calculated attack on charities of all types.

    22. Ham Lake MN says:

      The answer is simple and the same path our Founding Fathers took, civil/military action.It needs to begin very soon to have any chance of success.

    23. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Today Obama commited his worst crime so far! He sent to all American Veterans a book explaining to then, that if they are so handicapped that they are beyond fixing, so old to repair, are a burden to their families, then suicide is an option!

      This man has fooled America long enough and it is time to put a stop to all the idiocy coming at us from Washington D.C.

      Hozro

    24. Carol from Roswell says:

      To Jim, The Republicans cannot hire any lawyers; they are all contributors to the Democratic Party – why do you think there is no talk about Tort Reform in the Obama Plan. My grandparents left Hungary when the Fascists took their farm and split it up for all the people; my good friend left Cuba when Castro stole her parent's property to give to the people – now we are living in the new America where Obama wants to take what we've earned and redistribute it.

      Where do we go?

    25. David VanNorman Wi says:

      The Cash for Clunkers shows just how the Dems hate the poor working class who would work rather than be on the federal dole the cars that might have life left in them that a poor person perhaps might buy these dopes have destroied.How dumb can they get.

    26. Bobbie Jay says:

      Conn, Why are my comments not being published? Why the punishment with no explanation? You know my e-mail address could you please share with me? Thank you.

      • Conn Carroll Conn Carroll says:

        Bobbie Jay-
        Please check again and see if all of your comments have been approved. I think I got them all. The delay in approval is not a punishment, but just a matter of resources. We simply don't have the resources to approve comments on a 24 hour basis.
        I hope you'll be patient with us and keep coming back to see your comments and how other respond.
        Thanks.
        -Conn

    27. cybercorrespondent says:

      The push for global currency and the destruction of the dollar has started

      BANGKOK- Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz is telling us that the U.S. dollar-based system is flawed and risky and that the "dollar now is yielding almost zero return. The question is do we go to a new system in an orderly or disorderly way." Stiglitz urged rich nations to provide funds to help poorer countries avoid a steep crash during the financial crisis.

      The group has called for global coordination to avoid competition to cut taxes, and for a worldwide increase in tax on high earners. Dubbing itself the "Shadow GN", the group has urged governments to opt for bank nationalizations rather than bailouts in order to drive the pace of fresh lending.

      Don’t fall for it. Watch these two videos.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9-2PhChboU&fehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAaQNACwaLw&fe
      The push for global currency and the destruction of the dollar has started

      BANGKOK- Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz is telling us that the U.S. dollar-based system is flawed and risky and that the "dollar now is yielding almost zero return. The question is do we go to a new system in an orderly or disorderly way." Stiglitz urged rich nations to provide funds to help poorer countries avoid a steep crash during the financial crisis.

      The group has called for global coordination to avoid competition to cut taxes, and for a worldwide increase in tax on high earners. Dubbing itself the "Shadow GN", the group has urged governments to opt for bank nationalizations rather than bailouts in order to drive the pace of fresh lending.

      Don’t fall for it. Watch these two videos.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9-2PhChboU&fehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAaQNACwaLw&fe
      cybercorrespondent
      http://cybercorrespondent.blogspot.com

      http://cybercorrespondent.blogspot.com

    28. Jerry from Chicago says:

      Mr. Obama has left the American people with enough serious problems of which to be critical. We waste time and effort talking about "Cash for Clunkers". It's over and done with. And at this point, is it really helpful to banter over his birth certificate?

      This man is the President of the U.S.; he has veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate; we no longer have checks and balances. His lack of education and/or training in the fields of banking, finance, economics, business, the stock market, ecology, health care in general and the insurance industry in particular, combined with his socialist agenda for America are frightening. At least they are to me.

      There is one area where this man has had an abundent education and training, and that is the legal profession. The first piece of legislation this lawyer, our President, signed into law was a "Stimulus" bill, binding the American public (his client)to pay nearly $900 billion dollars. And he never read it.

      He tried to push House Bill 3200, the Health Care Reform Bill, estimated to cost nearly $1 trillion, into law prior to the Congressional recess this August, again without having read it.

      I've listened to his speeches and they can be compelling. He always seems to have a noble rationale behind his plans. But there is an overriding problem. He doesn't tell the truth.

      Candidate Obama promised to post all legislation on the internet for five days (part of his "transparent" administration) so the American people could see it before he acted on it. Candidate Obama promised to review all proposed legislation and exercise line item veto authority to eliminate earmarks (the Stimulus bill had 9,000 of them – none were vetoed). Candidate Obama promised to have no lobbyists in his administration. The first three positions filled by President Obama were exceptions to that promise. Candidate Obama spoke (on camera) of favoring a single-payer government health plan. President Obama says he only wants a government "option", to keep the insurance companies honest.

      Mr. Obama's supporters will defend these contradictions by whatever means they can. It still doesn't change the fact that you can't count on what he says. Whether these contradictions are based on deliberate lies or upon a "change of mind" is irrelevent, the man is simply not credible and cannot be trusted.

    29. Mike Rapkoch, Billin says:

      Hi:

      This is to Lynn B. DSpain but I suspect what I ask is of great interest to all of us.

      Where do we get a reliable copy of the book you discuss in your Comment? While certainly not surprised that Obama and his fellow nihilists would publish and promote such a book, death being their default solution to everything, very similar to Stalinist Russia and Nai Germany, we MUST know the enemies tactics so the more we can spread this "Death Manual," which we could publish with well reasoned conter argument–i.e. the Truth–the stronger our arsenal.

      Thanks for any help you might offer.

      Mike

    30. Nancy M. says:

      Edward, you know that Obama will never give the true taxpayer a break; after all they need our tax dollars to redistribute the wealth! Yep the "clunkers deal” is taxable. A friend who "took advantage" of this program to replace her car found out after signing the papers for her new auto!

    31. Cybercorrespondent, says:

      Two Points of View

      Conservative

      In 2009, the United States printed $2 trillion and guaranteed it with IOUs. As the Obama administration continues to print more money, the liberals try to make everyone believe that their actions will get us out of debt and recession. By printing more money, their philosophy is to hand out free money as it was easy to come by and as a result make people believe that getting it for free is better than working. Eventually, more jobs will be lost, people will stop looking for work, and when there are more takers than givers, the capitalist system will totally collapse.

      Liberal

      While the workers who work hard are getting stressed out, those who collect unemployment can lay back and enjoy their free time. With the healthcare bill signed into law, you now can stay home and enjoy hobbies like art. If you are under 26, you can stay under your parent’s insurants with nothing to worry about. After the cap and trade bill is passed, things will get even better. The darn capitalists will be forced to lay off more people and you’ll have more friends to hang around with. And if you do decided that you want to work, the government is hiring 16,000 new IRS agents to enforce the President's mandate on the American people. Those will be jobs created. No need to worry about collage. We’ll make those who work pay for it.

      Capitalists are nothing but whiners. After the healthcare bill was passed, AT&T started whining that they already lost $1 billion because of the passage, two of the nation’s largest employers, John Deer and Caterpillar, claim it will cost them billions and to top it off, Towers Watson whined to the Wall Street Journal that the total hit this year for them will reach nearly $14 billion. What are they going to do? Lay off more people? Don’t they know that we have printing presses rolling and will never run out of unemployment money? Henry Waxman already called in the CEO’s of these companies to Washington and will put them in their place for whining about it.

      Another organization that needs a lesson thought is the Heritage Foundation. How dare they say that according to their research, “President Obama's health approach is financially unsustainable and will ultimately lead to health care rationing, a lower quality of care and a greater degree of dependence on government?” Government dependency, isn’t that what we want? No need to worry. Senators Lindsey Graham and Joseph Lieberman outlined U.S. climate-change legislation that would have power companies buy and sell pollution rights in a carbon market and force oil and energy companies pay fixed fees for emissions. Our senators and congressman are the finest and will make sure that after the capitalist system collapses, we the new communist party will get total control of the private sector.

      How can we loose? With gas prices at $7.00 a gallon and outrageous energy bills, everybody will be forced to ask the government for a hand out. As a Democratic Congressman, Alcee Hastings, had articulated so perfectly, "There ain't no rules here, we're trying to accomplish something. . . .All this talk about rules. . . .When the deal goes down . . . we make 'em up as we go along." Translation, “The road for those who know how to milk the system will be paved with gold. A better quote to summarize this point of view comes from a comment to Cybercorrespondent’s article entitled, “Unite Against Tyranny or Relinquish Liberty.” Quote, “I think we should Unite FOR Tyranny. It will make your dreams come true! Or kill you. One of the two.”

      Cybercorrespondent
      http://cybercorrespondent.wordpress.com

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×