Many Americans are unaware that some of the most significant presidential homes are conserved and preserved by private, charitable organizations that don’t receive a penny from government. In Virginia, George Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s cherished Monticello are privately supported, as is Rancho del Cielo in California, the Reagan Ranch where Ronald Reagan found peace and inspiration.
These unique, inspirational pieces of our historical fabric provide insights into some of our nation’s greatest leaders. One can only wonder if they would enjoy the same care and support if forced to rely on a federal government that has shown itself particularly inept at passing a budget and inefficient at determining priorities. Yet that is exactly the situation that is threatened by policies that dampen the benefit of making sizable donations for historic preservation or other salutary charitable causes.
Before Washington’s next “fiscal cliff” deal sends charitable contributions into free fall, we should seriously assess the consequences of a tax policy that diminishes the value of charitable giving — and do what is truly best for the soul of this nation.
George Allen is a former governor and U.S. senator from Virginia. He serves as Reagan Ranch Presidential Scholar for the Young America’s Foundation.