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On Tax Day, returns show Obama and Biden fall short of Bush on charitable giving

Photo of Aleksandra Kulczuga
Aleksandra Kulczuga
Contributor

In keeping with White House tradition, the president and vice president publicly released their returns on Thursday for national Tax Day. It turns out Republican George Bush opened his wallet substantially wider than Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden while residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

In 2009, the Barack and Michelle Obama donated 5.9 percent of their income to charity and Joe Biden gave away 1.4 percent of his. While in office, Bush routinely donated more than 10 percent of his income each year.

According to the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University, more than two-thirds of American households donate to charity, with an average donation of $2,047, or 3 percent of income.

In his 2006 book, “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism,” Syracuse University Professor Arthur Brooks analyzed charitable giving in the United States and found that conservatives were 30 percent more likely to give, even though liberal families averaged 6 percent higher household incomes. Brooks found that conservatives donate more time and give more blood, and concluded that religious participation was the single strongest predictor of generous behavior.

According to Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, religious people are 25 percent more likely to donate than non-religious people. Religious people are also 38 percent more likely to be conservative.

In 2007, the giving broke down on party lines like this:

Cheney: 5.5 %

Bush: 17.6%

McCain: 27 %

Obama: 5.6 %

Clinton 14.7 %

Biden: 0.3 %

Biden has a particularly stingy history — right before the 2008 election USA Today reported that the Bidens donated an average $369 a year over the past 10 years, 0.2 percent of their income for the decade.

Brooks looked at the states Bush won in 2004 and found that on average, their residents gave more to charity than the states that went for Kerry.  What’s more:

Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average. In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.

Around the same time John Stossel did an unscientific experiment on 20/20 comparing how much a Salvation Army Bucket could collect in one day in San Francisco (the most liberal place in America according to The Daily Caller) vs. Sioux Falls, S.D. (the heart of a deeply red state). Stossel’s results?

Even though people in Sioux Falls make, on average, half as much money as people in San Francisco, and even though the San Francisco location was much busier — three times as many people were within reach of the bucket — by the end of the second day, the Sioux Falls bucket held twice as much money.

A New York Times op-ed titled, “Bleeding Heart Tightwads,” went even further than Brooks’s book:

A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: Average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.

Other research has reached similar conclusions. The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.

…. Come on liberals, redeem yourselves, and put your wallets where your hearts are.

Such results surprised Brooks himself:

When I started doing research on charity, I expected to find that political liberals — who, I believed, genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did — would turn out to be the most privately charitable people. So when my early findings led me to the opposite conclusion, I assumed I had made some sort of technical error. I re-ran analyses. I got new data. Nothing worked. In the end, I had no option but to change my views.

E-mail Aleksandra.

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  • Dredd

    Yes, but as we know they use their own money.

    Some corporations should try that perhaps?

    • ImpressedByHonesty

      Bush’s daddy had the Saudi’s buy his failed company. Twice. I’d be philanthropic like a mutha if I could drive my company into the ground and make a fortune.

      • des1

        You mean like Franklin Raines?

        • des1

          Also, could you remind me what businesses Obama & Biden (or Pelosi & Reid for that matter) have run (well or poorly….either would be a revelation).

          • ImpressedByHonesty

            Business of Obama and Biden is called public service. Foregoing the high pay in Wall street I think is a selfless trait for Obama. Top of the class at Harvard. He could pick and choose where he would be making his millions. He is a millionaire because of his books. But chose public service, working for the people.

            Biden is solid middle class stock. Rode a train in to work everyday at dawn his whole life. Drives a pickup truck. A ‘real American’ as your side puts it oftentimes. And you hold that against him.

        • ImpressedByHonesty

          Yeah like Dick Cheney. Not sure what Franklin Raines has to do with Bush being a draft dodger and Cheney having five military deferments that they proudly display on their chests, before driving us into an unnecessary war.

          • ImpressedByHonesty

            more crickets. Didn’t know the cute little crickeys were repubbies.

        • ImpressedByHonesty

          crickets…

  • misanthropicus

    [...] Even though people in Sioux Falls make, on average, half as much money as people in San Francisco, and even though the San Francisco location was much busier — three times as many people were within reach of the bucket — by the end of the second day, the Sioux Falls bucket held twice as much money. [...]

    Yeah, but people from San Francisco are by far more generous with the money confiscated from other people than the homophobic racist neo-nazis from Sioux City – see?

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  • BloodHorse72

    We should not critique our Dear Leader on this. El Presidente is working diligently to redistribute “A People’s” wealth on the behalf of the collective.

    As for comrade, Biden…..its the thought that counts.

  • xfiler93

    Liberals arent too compassionate with their money it seems…but the evildoer Bush gave the most!! LOL! Liberals,what a joke!

    • ImpressedByHonesty

      My joke was that guild made him do it. But then I got jumped on. LOL!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Beattie/1372008598 Tom Beattie

    Since god is government for secular progressives they view taxes as the equivalent of tithes and offerings. They are doing the “lord’s” work by jacking up taxes on “rich” folk to fill federal coffers which are then dispensed to help needy constituencies. In other words, their efforts to raise & dispense tax money is how they donate since they certainly avoid giving money. And they feel virteous every step of the way.

    • des1

      They also behave that way with regards to auto pollution. If I had a dime for every time a Liberal twit in a 4 cylinder death box (i.e. Prius, Mini-Cooper, or other 40mph+ go cart) passed me doing 70 or 80 (which kills any benefit achieved through the purchase of said death box) with an Obama bumper sticker, I’d never have to work again. The funny thing is, when you run a really small engine at that high of a speed, you’ve got the rpms jacked so high that it’s worse than if you were driving something with much worse gas mileage.

      But they obviously don’t care about the environment, only with showing people that they care.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Beattie/1372008598 Tom Beattie

        Passing folk on the highway, lightening quick acceleration and dang fun to drive. Conservatives drive minis too. Most enjoyable car I’ve ever owned.

        • des1

          Not with an Obama sticker on the bumper.

          Every time I see one of those go carts on the road, I think of that Limbaugh song “In A Hugo.” Between the wind and the snow here, those things must do more to keep the population down than all forms of birth control combined.

          • ImpressedByHonesty

            I once drove a tiny 70′ honda civic my first year in college, that was, let’s just say, memorable. Take a lemon and make it into lemonade, I say.

          • ImpressedByHonesty

            Late 70′s Honda Civic I mean.

          • des1

            I started out with a Suburu, then moved to a Ford Escort. Now in my prime earning years I’ve graduated to a Toyota Corolla. It’s tough to keep that thing on the road here, I sure as heck wouldn’t go smaller.

          • ImpressedByHonesty

            to des1,

            Toyota Corolla? Anyone whom drives a high mpg car like that must be a liberal I’m slapping an Obama sticker on that bumper.

      • ImpressedByHonesty

        “liberal twit”

        So much anger…

        • des1

          I’m sorry, since you gave us a lesson in writing style earlier, I was wondering if you’d point out what in the phrase “Liberal twit” leads you to the conclusion that I’m angry? As far as I can tell, that’s merely a term to describe a group of people who are narcissistic and intellectually dishonest. Anyone who would lecture others incessantly about the environment (even going so far as to buy a car that’s only use is to get as efficient gas mileage as possible), then drive recklessly at speeds that lowered their mpg and increased their emissions are people I’d describe as twits. The Liberal part is merely their self-imposed label.

          See, no anger whatsoever.

          • ImpressedByHonesty

            Your language sounds angry. And a Prius going 80 gets better mpg than a Hummer going 80. It’s simple math. And a Tesla going 160 gets way better mileage than a Hummer going 80.

            I’d go for the Tesla.

    • ImpressedByHonesty

      Tom Beattie,

      No. Government is us banding together as an intelligent people. Everyone has to pay a fair share, thats all. If I make way more than you, than I should be taxed the same percentage as you because I can handle it without a thought. It won’t change the way I go about my business one iota. I shoulder my own responsibilities. As everyone should. Welfare was reformed by Clinton in the 90′s. And that traffic light I pass in the morning has to be maintained, and dammit I should be puttin’ in my share. And so should you. Or are you just a freeloader wanna be.

      This isn’t Somalia.

      Republicans do give more of their income to charities then dems. Guilt, maybe?

      • des1

        “Republicans do give more of their income to charities then dems. Guilt, maybe?”

        Now there’s a typical Liberal retort. Associating charitable donations with negative motives. Obviously the reasoning is that since you don’t like to donate, you must smear anyone else who does. Kudos on being such a fine role model to children.

        The rich are already taxed far in excess (percentage wise) than the poor, or even middle class in our society. Nobody is proposing that someone making a million dollars should pay the same percentage as someone making twenty thousand. That would be a strawman argument.

        • ImpressedByHonesty

          Lighten up. Any giving is a high honor. Guilt or no guilt.

          And it is a pleasure to hear not one instance of name calling in your post. Well done!

          The rich should pay a higher percentage. The military protects us from invasion, the rich have much more to protect in dollars. Some of the poor don’t fly at airports, middle class flies less than the rich, and govt does subsidies airports.

          Many go to private schools, but the companies owned by the rich get a huge benefit in the public schools and the ‘product’ they generate, so those companies can hire engineers and other professional positions. Social Security gets a higher pay in by the rich, and they get a bigger weekly check when they retire. And I could go on. But their are loopholes that allow many to game the system and pay no tax. Which blows our arguments out of the water.

          And if that flat tax comes into play, actually many of the rich would pay less. Leaving the middle class to shoulder more of the burden. The poor don’t have any more. And as you bring down taxes, and the soldier is looking for his pay and there is none left, I’ll point him in your direction.

        • ImpressedByHonesty

          des1 you are a sub-par clairvoyant believing that I don’t donate.

          The rich don’t make one move differently, lifestyle-wise, if they are taxed at 25% or at 0%. Ask Warren Buffet, whom still remains puzzled that he pays less of a percentage in taxes that his secretary does.

          http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/money/tax/article1996735.ece

          Is Buffet the straw man you refer to in this argument?

  • moira1987

    Why give to charity when you can redistribute OTHER people’s wealth? Besides, Obama is still waiting for “thank yous” from some of us, so… ;) The best part is now we know that Obama is about as charitable as Dick Cheney… :D