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 Home > News & Policies > January 2001
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 30, 2001

Press Briefing by Mayor Steve Goldsmith, Reverend Mark Scott, and a White House Official on the Faith-Based Initiative
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

3:03 P.M. EST

          MR. MCCLELLAN:  Everybody set?  Let me go back over the parameters.  No radio, no cameras.  This is a briefing on the faith-based proposal put out today.  We've got with us Mayor Steve Goldsmith, Reverend Mark Scott, and John Bridgeland.  The Mayor and the Reverend will be on the record.  John Bridgeland you can identify as a White House official; he will be on background.  And we've got a couple other staff members here, too, that if they chime in, they'll be White House officials as well. Those are the parameters we set out earlier today.

          And with that, I'll turn it over to each of these guys and they'll each say a brief word about themselves and their involvement, so you can have a little background or bio information on them.  Thanks.

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Welcome.  Today the President announced and submitted to the Congress his package of proposals to support community and faith-based efforts to help those who prosperity has left behind.  His proposals focus on three areas.  First, increasing charitable giving, primarily through expanding the federal charitable deduction to the 80 million Americans, about 70 percent of filers, who currently do not itemize.

          Second, by permitting individuals over 59 to contribute their IRA funds to charities without having to pay income tax on their gifts.  And, third, to provide civil liability protection to businesses that donate equipment and facilities to charitable groups.

          Second, he's called for leveling the playing field so that faith-based organizations can compete on an equal footing with their secular counterparts for federal funds, consistent with the following principles:  First, choice; that there needs to be a secular alternative so no one is forced to accept services from a faith-based provider.

          Second, no expressed subsidy of religion so that no government funds are used for proselytizing or other inherently religious activities. And third, neutrality; that government should be neutral, not hostile to faith-based providers and should focus on results.  His commitment is to an approach that is bipartisan, pluralistic, and constitutional.

          And finally, today, he has launched a series of initiatives to help people in need, such as the 1.5 million children who have a mother or father in prison, opening the 21st Century Learning Centers program for after-school programs to faith-based providers so they can competitively bid.  And third, establishing a compassion capital fund to highlight best practices and provide technical assistance and start-up capital to promising programs and bring them to scale.

          It's now my great pleasure to introduce someone who has actually been working in the field through the Front Porch Alliance as the Mayor of Indianapolis and Senior Advisor to the President, Mayor Steve Goldsmith.


          MAYOR GOLDSMITH:  Thank you.  Let me just make a comment or two, maybe to start by backing up a level of generality in terms of how this fits within compassionate conservatism generally, and then more detail about the programs that the President has announced yesterday and today.

          As reflected in his inaugural speech and actually reflected to me in the very first conversation I had with then-governor, now President, his view of the role of government rejects both extremes, if you will, as suggests that there is a very significant role for government helping people who prosperity has left behind, and that we have a responsibility as a government to reach out, in fact even enhance, educational programs and medical coverage issues and a whole range of other things, some of which John referenced.

          But he also rejects the idea that government needs to be the monopolist on good deeds, that government can fund these public goods, these necessities, but does not necessarily have to deliver the help itself.

          So this view of government plays out in the initiatives over the last two days, because in establishing the White House Office of Faith and Community Initiatives, the President is very clearly saying that we have a responsibility to help children with after-school care, we have a responsibility to help children of prisoners, we have a responsibility to help those who are uninsured.  But we're going to do that through a decentralization and devolvement, and allowing faith and community groups to be the front doors of either providing these services are accessing these services.

          Now, this is a view of government that is basically a performance-driven accountability view that says we're going to remove the hostility that many of these programs have had to faith-based or religious organizations, we're going to even the playing field, we'll make those dollars available on a performance and an accountability fashion, and then we'll encourage those players to participate in reaching out to people who prosperity has left behind.

          So this is a fundamental precept, if you will, of compassionate conservatism.  Now, how do you help faith and community organizations? Well, there is a series of ways you can help them.  One is, you can encourage individuals to more directly contribute to their synagogue or their church or their mosque, or their not-for-profit Boys and Girls Clubs or Big Brothers and Big Sisters.  And the President has a reference and will be laying out tax code changes to encourage philanthropy that will allow more dollars directly to go into the coffers of these faith-based and community organizations.

          Secondly, you can do it by making sure that more programs are created in a way that gives the people in need authority over those dollars.  In other words, how do people who need help take the dollar or the voucher or the benefit stream to their faith-based organization or their community organization on their own.

          And the third is to remove these obstacles, to basically say let's have an even playing field, let's enhance the choice charitable language that we've had today that says that government should not discriminate against faith-based organizations.  That means that we need to remove regulatory obstacles.  There are many that still exist at HUD for example.  We need to remove legislative obstacles as well, and the goal of the White House Office and the centers in each of the departments is, in fact, to go through, audit those obstacles and remove them.

          Now, let me just spend a minute amplifying the comments you heard before about what this isn't.  There is no pot of money set aside for faith-based organizations.  There is no funding for faith-based organizations.  There is increased access on the part of faith-based organizations to existing and new funding streams, but that's different than saying that the President has announced multi-billion-dollar effort to fund faith-based organizations.

          Secondly, consistent with the comments you heard before, and consistent with the existing congressional language and the views of all of us, that government money should not fund religion, period, that it is legitimate and appropriate for government to fund shelter care or food for those in need, but not to fund the Bibles, not to fund the crosses, not to fund the stars of David or whatever.

          So no money for religion.  And third, again, to reiterate John's comment, a person in need should not be forced by government to go through the door of a religious organization in order to receive help.  But a person in need should have the option of going through the door of a faith-based organization if he or she wishes.  They should also, however, have a secular alternative.

          So what I see the President having done here over the last couple of days and again tomorrow, is saying that, a, we need to encourage direct philanthropy, and here are some ways to do it; b, we need to remove obstacles; and, c, we need to reach out to people who prosperity has left behind, and the best way to do this is to open up the opportunities for assistance.

          This, we believe, is a constitutional package, we firmly believe it, one that will sustain any attacks that might be brought against it, and one that, most importantly, will actually provide a lot of benefit to children and families who now are being left behind.

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Now, I want to introduce Reverend Mark Scott from the Ella J. Baker House in Boston, which has been leading the charge in a whole range of issues, including gang violence and crime prevention.

          REVEREND SCOTT:  I am the Director of the Ella J. Baker House.  I also serve as the Associate Pastor of the Azusa Christian Community.  I'm here today because the work that we do, I believe is an example of what the President has laid out.           We've been working in one of the toughest, most violent, poorest, youngest neighborhoods in the city of Boston for the last 13 years.  And the role of faith in the work that we do has been largely our motivation. It is what gave us the courage, the perseverence, the desire, the demand to go into a neighborhood where people were being shot at, where people were dying, where your home could be shot into, your car could be shot into, where there were drug dealers standing on your porch when you tried to go home from work at night, where there were very, very few city services being delivered, and begin to reach out to the young people in that neighborhood, to begin to reach out to anybody of goodwill, whether it turned out -- in our case, it turned out to be other community-based organizations, like health centers, like community development corporations, they turned out to be the police department, they turned out to be the courts, it turned out to be the schools.

          And what's happened over the last decade is that a network of people have built up to really begin to have an impact on juvenile violence in the city of Boston.  The city of Boston went 27 months without any juvenile homicides.

          Shortly after we started this work, there were 151 homicides in the city of Boston.  We've closed out last year, we got down to a low of 35.  And we believe that one of the major reasons why we had such a dramatic drop in crime, without having an increase in complaints against the police or any kind of a sense of loss of basic civil liberties on the part of the population, is because of a lot of people of goodwill working together.

          The communities of faith played a key role in helping to make that coming together possible.  And so one of the key things about this is collaboration between the people who live in the community -- the citizens and neighbors, themselves -- and the government institutions.  And we see what the President is doing as an effort to reach out to that kind of work and an effort to be able to provide some kind of resources for them to use -- which we would go after just like everybody else would go after it, in a competitive way, in a public way, in an open way, and we'd be accountable for whatever resources we received.

          Q    Reverend, can I ask you a question?  How do you separate religious activities in your outreach and what you do to sort of discourage violence and that sort of thing?  How do you separate those two things?

          REVEREND SCOTT:  Well, there's a number of things you can do. The first thing we do is we're talking about two separate organizations. The church that I'm an associate pastor of is one organization, and right next to it is a human service providing organization.  And when we reach out -- and then our work is not for the people who are members of our congregation.  They're not required to become a part of our congregation, not required to be Christians.  Anybody that needs the kind of services that we provide, we provide them.

          And what we believe is that in us doing the work that we believe the Lord has demanded of us, that people, their lives will change.  And if they choose to become a part of our fellowship, that's wonderful.  If they don't decide to do that, that's fine.  If they choose to be a part of someone else's fellowship -- we have young people in our programs who have not expressed any intention at all of having any kind of religious --we have young people who are Muslim who participate in our programs.

          Q    Is your program government-funded right now?

          REVEREND SCOTT:  We do receive some government funding.  Like I say, we collaborate with the police and with the courts.  And so they've gotten money, federal money, and we've gotten a little piece of it so that we can contribute our part.

          Q    So why is this initiative necessary if things seem to be working all right --

          REVEREND SCOTT:  What I see the President doing is -- it's been very difficult for us, and part of it              -- it's two sides -- part of it is that we need to learn how to go after the resources.  I mean, what most communities of faith -- we do the work, and then we say, oh, we've got to go some money to go do this work.  So what this is going to do, because of the public visibility of it, because of the technical assistance that would be available, is that organizations like ours go after the kind of resources they need to do the work.

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Let me just amplify on that question. Currently under federal law, Congress has passed on a bipartisan and with substantial majorities, four acts that have included charitable choice provisions.  However, there are a wide range of programs, including fatherhood initiatives, juvenile justice programs, a whole range of programs -- drug treatment prevention programs -- that currently are not -- charitable choice does not apply to.  And more specifically, a University of Pennsylvania study in the year 2000 highlighted the fact that while faith-based organizations in Philadelphia -- over 400 of them -- have tremendous capacity in bringing volunteers and mobilizing individuals to address inner-city needs, that financially and administratively, they have tremendous burdens and lack capacity.

          And that's one of the reasons that, again, this initiative will help open up charitable choice to the range of social service programs and address specifically the needs of small and other faith-based providers to provide social services.

          Q    Reverend Scott, if you get this money, won't it have the effect of freeing up funds that you might have used for social services, and freeing up that money for religious activity?

          REVEREND SCOTT:  We're going to be accountable for what we receive.  And most of what we receive at this point is what I'd call hard dollars.  And so, whether we go to a foundation or whether we go to the federal government, or whether we go to individuals, we're going to have to produce results for all of that money.  The money that we use for religious purposes is the money that comes out of my pocket and the fellow members of the congregation.  So that's the money that we use to pursue our religious life.

          So there's no other money we get besides what comes out of our own pockets and what we're going to be held accountable for.

          Q    Reverend, could you spell out just as long as we're looking at your specific example, where would you use the federal monies?  In other words, what specific purposes would you apply taxpayer money to do?  What would the money do?

          REVEREND SCOTT:  Let me give you a couple of examples.  We would go down to the local court and we would say to them, send us some of the young men that you have on probation who have gotten caught up in the criminal justice system.  Send them down to the Baker House, we'll work with the probation officers to sort of pick and screen which young men would benefit from a program at the Baker House, come down and we will put them through a literature program, because we think that if you read good literature, it can motivate you to change your life.  And I would use federal money to hire a teacher to teach in that after-school program.

          Q    Would that be inspirational literature?

          REVEREND SCOTT:  We might use a Bible as a piece of literature, but it could include all kinds of literature. It could also include movies, videos, poetry.

          Q    So what you're after is to get these kids who are in trouble to see the light, to accept a truth that you think is important, and you would use federal money to do that.

          REVEREND SCOTT:  Right.

          Q    Is it okay to use federal money to hire a Bible teacher?

          REVEREND SCOTT:  We would not do that --

          Q    Actually, I wanted to ask -- would that be okay to use federal money to hire a Bible teacher to inspire young people?  Is that okay under this program?

          MAYOR GOLDSMITH:  Well, let's back up a minute.  There's federal money available for specific public purposes.  Public purposes may be shelter or food, or health or drug treatment, and you would use the federal dollars for those purposes.  If they wish to hire a Bible teacher, then they will hire the Bible teacher.  They would pay for the Bibles.  But we have a little bit of confusion here, and I may confuse it even more, because the more detail we get, the more difficult it gets, obviously.

          But, remember, the person in need can walk through a totally secular door and receive totally secular services -- no Bible, no inspirational reading, just the great books that don't include the Bible, right?  Or they can walk through the door of a faith-based provider.  Now, if that faith-based provider takes federal money to do the shelter, there is nothing that keeps it from providing the person in that shelter with access to the Bible or prayer meetings.  Salvation Army has every right, if it takes federal money for shelter, it would under this situation, to have a prayer session before lunch.  There's nothing that forbids it, so long as the government's not forcing somebody into the Salvation Army.

          Q    Does a group that receives this money have to show -- a faith-based group have to show that there is a secular alternative in their neighborhood, in their area?  That would be part of the application process?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  I don't think that's how it would work. It would be the program director's responsibility, to provide to other constituencies in the area a secular alternative.

          Q    As part of the same program?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  As part of the administration of the program.  That's correct.  So that the beneficiaries of the program, the young men who are coming from the criminal justice system into the Ella J. Baker House, have the choice to enter a secular program, are not mandated with government funds to enter this program, that would teach, it sounds like, a broad range of literature.

          Q    If these programs take federal money, would they be subjected to civil rights laws?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Currently Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does prohibit faith-based providers and other providers of services to discriminate.  Charitable choice, which, again, in four different enactments before the Congress, with bipartisan majorities and substantial support, has also said that religious institutions do not have to divest themselves of that faith of those religious qualities that make them the institutions that they are.

          Q    So in other words, if somebody with AIDS comes to a religious program, could they be turned away?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Again, it would depend on the program.  It would be administered and it would be -- you'd have to look at the civil rights statutes.

          Q    Is there any desire of the administration to -- legislation that would subject organizations to civil rights legislation or civil rights laws?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Again, currently faith-based organizations are subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and on any charitable choice legislation considered before the Congress this will be the subject of debate.

          Q    Can you talk about the money -- for instance, under the four examples you said of charitable choice, how much money is there from those four programs?  And also, what do you anticipate the amount of charitable deduction -- if you have to present it as legislation, I assume that you had to come up with a cost, in terms of tax laws.  How much money are we talking about here?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Currently there are four programs.  I'll give you more specifics.  The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 applied to TANF dollars and welfare-to-work dollars.  The Human Services Reauthorization Act of 1998 applied to community services, block grants.  The Children's Health Act, in the year 2000, applied to drug abuse treatment programs administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  And, again in 2000, the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act expanded charitable choice to include both drug abuse treatment and prevention programs.  I don't have aggregate dollar figures for you, but I can certainly -- we can certainly follow up and get those for you.

          With respect to the provision, the tax incentive to provide a charitable deduction for non-itemizers, that will be the cost -- all of our tax proposals and spending proposals will be included in an economic blueprint that will be released next month.

          Q    The Scientologists offer a program for drug abusers and alcoholics that they say is very effective.  The Nation of Islam has a lot of social services programs.  Addressing those two groups in particular, would they be entitled to this sort of money?  Are they faith-based groups?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  You should ask the same question with respect to their secular counterparts if they're organizations that have views or -- again, the issue is, what does the program call for, with respect to the provision of social services, to the beneficiaries that are intended under the statute; and is the organization, whether it be faith-based or secular, specifically, does it meet the criteria of the program and is it providing those services effectively.  That's how we ought to judge whether or not these programs qualify and whether they continue to receive federal funding.

          MAYOR GOLDSMITH:  Again, there is no -- this is a very important point -- there is no pot of money for faith-based organizations.  There is government money for public purposes.  And what the legislation and the executive orders do is say we shouldn't discriminate against faith-based. Now, they have to compete, they have be evaluated, they have to be judged by whether it's a local or state or federal organization.  So we've almost got the conversation upside down, saying kind of what sort of faith-based organizations can qualify.  The answer, really, is that we're going to remove the discrimination and they have to bid like everybody else.

          Q    Those two organizations would be able to compete for this money, and as long as their program is effective they would be entitled to federal funds -- is that accurate?

          MAYOR GOLDSMITH:  Any organization that met the performance standards of the government contract would have the chance to compete.

          Q    Their particular religious beliefs would not be relevant in this, it is their social service program that is the issue?

          MAYOR GOLDSMITH:  To go down the other route, you're on very dangerous grounds.

          Q    Isn't that the case now?  What is prohibiting these groups from getting federal funding now?  Some of them say they're already getting federal funding.

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  You're exactly right.  Within the world the charitable choice covers, that's true.  Although, we've heard -- yesterday we heard from people like Reverend Scott and others who gathered for the meeting with the President yesterday that there are significant barriers yet to the actual implementation of charitable choice today in HUD and in other departments and agencies.

          And that's one of the reasons that we've established -- the President has established centers within each of those departments and agencies to conduct an audit and report back within six months as to the regulatory barriers with respect to implementation of charitable choice and the ability of faith-based providers to access on an equal basis with their secular counterparts these funding streams.

          To answer your question more directly, there's a whole world -- charitable choice only covers a very small world of social service programs.  And, again, when you look at some of the preliminary evaluations and studies, faith-based organizations are out-performing some of their counterparts with respect to areas that charitable choice under federal law currently doesn't cover.

          MAYOR GOLDSMITH:  Let me give you an anecdote just for a second, consistent with John's answer.  So I was Mayor of Indianapolis and the charitable choice language passed its second or third iteration.  And we offered up money, we had hundreds of local partners, some community and faith-based.

          And one of the faith-based shelters called to complain and said, you won't let us bid unless we remove the crosses from our shelter.  And I said, no way, we would never say something so foolish.  (Laughter.)  Well, it turns out that in the CDBG regulations, if they bid they, in fact, have to scrub their shelter of any religious symbol.  Right?

          Well, the charitable choice language doesn't yet apply to HUD. It applies to TANF and other areas.  So, basically what we're saying is that they should not have to give up their mission in order to provide good services, as long as there is an alternative.

          And the second point, I think -- so that we don't get this too narrow -- you know, the average congregation in Philadelphia and Indianapolis that provides these services has less than 400 members.  It doesn't have 10,000; it doesn't have 5,000 -- it's got a part-time pastor who works a day job and pastors at night.  And the goal here will be to create a situation where it's easier for them to participate; that it's easier for them, they can provide the technical assistance or the front door -- arrange of partnerships.  So we have not just legal changes, we have a whole infrastructure that needs to be developed as well.

          Q    How does helping them in that way even the playing field and not give them favorable status over secular groups?  Why do they need a White House office to help them?

          MAYOR GOLDSMITH:  What the President did was establish the White House Office of Faith and Community Initiatives.  And what his language and his executive orders do is say that the delivery system for help needs to be decentralized, it needs to be less bureaucratic, it needs to be at the neighborhood and grass-roots level.

          That may mean a local community development corporation; it may mean a local church.  But the process -- as you all know, if you're a large religious organization, you can access government money today.  Catholic Charities does a wonderful job and has a lot of government money that it spends.  It's the small guy that really needs help.  And that's what -- that's why we need to clear out and provide a capacity.

          Q    It sounds like the Baker House is set up similarly to Catholic Charities.  I don't see why you would have any problem at all getting federal funds across the board now.  Is there something that --

          REVEREND SCOTT:  Well, there's a couple of differences between us and Catholic Charities.  We are a medium-size to small organization, and that's after about 10 years worth of growth.

          Q    -- separate subsidiary.  It sounds as if --

          REVEREND SCOTT:  Right.  But the problem is having -- for the hundreds and hundreds of organizations like mine that are out there across the country, the office exists to advocate for them and to reach out to them, so that they are even aware of the possibility of pursuing the kind of funds that Catholic Charities is very good at going after.

          Q    Is there any sort of grant that you cannot get right now that you would like to get because of restrictions due to the --

          REVEREND SCOTT:  My point is we don't even know.  We're not even aware of the kinds of things --

          Q    You're already getting government grants in areas that are not subject to charitable choice today.

          REVEREND SCOTT:  Yes, very small little kinds of things, but there is stuff that is coming through, yes.

          Q    So you don't need this legislation to do what you're doing?

          REVEREND SCOTT:  We do need -- we need the assistance and the help and the clearing out -- part of it is the President's effort, as I see it, to reach out to organizations like mine so that we can make that kind of connection.  And so people can grow over time to be able to pursue that kind of thing.

          Q    But why do you need the legislation?

          REVEREND SCOTT:  Around people being able to make donations to organizations and --

          Q    The part about clearing away the barriers.

          REVEREND SCOTT:  Yes.

          Q    Reverend, are you concerned, along with this assistance and help is going to come an enormous headache, and possible liabilities in dealing with the requirements and the demands and all the checked boxes and all that?

          REVEREND SCOTT:  It's work that we'll have to do if we're interested in getting the resources.  It's just another layer of work that we're going to have to take on in order to get those kind of resources. But it's part of expanding the dialogue and building the community and making the connections, so that we're not all isolated, doing something in our little neighborhood and not connected to the larger American community.           MAYOR GOLDSMITH:  In Indianapolis, some of the most evangelical organizations said, thank you very much for your attitude, we want nothing to do with you -- I mean, for this reason.  They were fearful of the intrusion coming the other direction, and it's a reasonable concern.

          Q    What kind of safeguards are there against the -- I've heard the President didn't want to change the nature of these organizations. What kind of safeguards are there that these requirements, whether it's scrub the homeless shelter of crosses or whatever, would change the nature of the work these people do?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Well, one specific requirement currently under charitable choice is to establish a segregated account for the specific services that the faith-based provider is providing to the beneficiaries.  That segregated account offers the faith-based providers the protection of not having everything else that they do subject to government regulation and audit.  So that was one of the protections that was built in to the current charitable choice provisions.

          Q    During the campaign, if I remember correctly, the number associated with the tax breaks from charitable deductions was about $75

billion over nine years.  Is that roughly --

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  You're going to push me on this, but as I mentioned, any cost with respect to tax or spending proposals would be part of an economic blueprint that will be released later.  And we're not in a position to discuss those today.

          Q    Why is that?  You're putting up the legislation today, you don't know how much it costs --

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  We understand that, but again, we have a process here -- an OMB process, a process to look at the budget to make determinations with respect to tax and other spending, and to do that in an orderly fashion and on a timetable dictated by the President.

          Q    Is that responsible -- you're offering tax breaks first and you'll figure out what the cost is later?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  It is responsible if they're paid for. And you should hold us accountable at the time of our economic blueprint when it's released.

          Q    Mr. Goldsmith, what is the size of the pot of money, to coin your phrase, that these faith-based groups would have access to under the President's program?

          MAYOR GOLDSMITH:  I don't think -- I can't put a number on it, but I can respond this way -- that every government funding program, social service nature, that reaches out to people in need should be available for competitive bidding on the part of faith-based organizations.  So it could be welfare, it could be welfare-to-work, it could be child welfare, it could be shelters.  And you have a number of new programs that the President has articulated -- for example, children of prisoners    -- for which they would also qualify.

          Now, the pie gets bigger, their ability to participate in the pie gets easier, but it's hard to quantify how much would actually end up being theirs because there are a number of faith-based organizations that won't wish to participate, there are a nunber that won't have the capacity to participate initially.  So I don't think I can put a number on it.

          Q    Do you know what the number is for that universe of programs that they'll have access to?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Well, I can tell you in one area, in federal drug control.  Currently, there are drug control programs in over 54 federal agencies.  We know that charitable choice doesn't apply to all of them, and I can cite specific examples -- like the Drug-Free Communities Act, that again, specifically doesn't permit a faith-based provider to establish a 501C3 corporation for purposes of receiving funds from the government under that program.

          And in fact, because of some of the barriers that were in place at the time when the Drug-Free Communities Act was written, faith-based providers were almost excluded altogether from participating in a community coalition effort, which the General Accounting Office and other studies have shown to be among the most effective in reducing teenage drug abuse, like the Miami Coalition that has cut drug abuse to half the national average since 1995.

          Q    Why do corporations need to reduce liability for contributions?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Currently a lot of corporations that want to give, make contributions to charities and other donations, will not do so because they fear the liability associated with such contributions.  And so the provision that the President has laid out would be to permit protection from civil liability, except in cases of gross negligence, so that you could get corporate contributions in terms of vehicles and facilities.

          There are instances where even corporations don't open up their doors and permit a non-profit organization that has no place to meet -- we've had this experience directly -- because they have concerns about someone slipping on the floor or a liability with respect to their offices and, again, precluding the charity from accessing corporate resources that otherwise would be available.

          Q    Are we talking about 10 people in the White House office and 10 people in each of the Cabinet offices?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  No, we're -- just to reflect upon what the Mayor has emphasized, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people out in this sector called civil society, who are going to be for the first time provided direct support in understanding these provisions in charitable choice -- understanding the barriers.  The Office of Faith-Based Action in the White House will be about 10 people.  And we will have centers in five departments and agencies that most directly today interact with faith-based and other non-profit organizations on these programs.

          Q    How large will these centers be?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  The centers, again, will have a director and a number of individuals that will be conducting the audit.  We want to do it smart and efficiently.  We think we can do a lot and achieve the goals articulated in the executive orders with a decent number of people.

          Q    What is the data involving the 80 million taxpayers who cannot take a deduction now?  In other words, is there a certain percentage who, nevertheless, give now?  And what is the projection with the deduction?

          WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:  Actually, stay tuned.  I understand tomorrow there will be a study released that spells out in more detail specifically to answer your question.

          Q    Thanks.

                                 END           3:40 P.M. EST

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