No matter what their area of concern or the issues they address, most nonprofits and foundations face increasingly difficult times because of growing needs and insufficient resources – and that describes our populace as much as them.  And Congress is trying to make it worse.

The House of Representatives passed legislation that ties together three items: extension of some popular tax-breaks, a long-needed increase in the minimum wage, and “reform” of the estate tax that is so extreme it’s tantamount to repeal.  It’s up to the Senate to stop it. 

For a recent (beginning May 15th) discussion of estate tax repeal on this SSIR blog, see Missing in Action.  Basically, full repeal costs the Treasury about $1 trillion over 10 years and the nonprofit sector up to $25 billion/year in decreased contributions; the current “reform” costs between 75% and 80% of that. 

It is so terribly cynical that it’s unconscionable to use a possible increase in the minimum wage – which hasn’t been raised in the last nine years, is worth 30% less in real buying power than it was in 1968, and which Congress just months ago again refused to raise – as a “sweetener” to gain support for estate tax repeal/”reform.”  While very consequential and important to many workers, the bump in wages would not do much to decrease the growing economic inequity or poverty in this country – for instance, it was just revealed that even four-year college graduates are suffering very real income declines.  And even with the House’s increase, a full-time minimum wage job still wouldn’t earn enough to get a family of three above the poverty line.

On the other hand, repeal/”reform” would further cripple government’s ability to tend to pressing needs and annually deny nonprofits the equivalent of the grants and contributions of close to the 100 largest foundations.  If Congress is serious, it ought to talk about a living wage and stop trying to give away about $800 billion dollars to the wealthiest 1% - 2% of Americans.

If you’re moved to action, you can call 800.459.1887 to let the Senate know your position on this issue.  The bill is H.R. 5790 and a NO! ought to be urged on this fiscally irresponsible self-serving effort at millionaires’ greed.