Romney’s Approach to Nonprofits a Sharp Contrast From Obama’s, Report Says

GOP nominee supports cuts to foreign aid, arts, public broadcasting—but above all, abortion providers

(Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has had a very active personal involvement with charitable giving and the nonprofit world.

He has served on the boards of nonprofit organizations, and with his wife, Ann, runs the Tyler Charitable Foundation, which had $10 million in assets in 2010. The foundation contributes to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints along with a diverse array of other charities, many of them focused on Massachusetts, where Romney was governor.

Last year, the Romneys contributed $4 million to charity, about 19% of their adjusted gross income.

How his policies as president would affect nonprofits and foundations is a matter of great interest to the charitable giving community.            

Last week, The Chronicle of Philanthropy looked into the matter, examining Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts and his statements as a presidential hopeful.

In many ways, his positions contrast sharply with those of President Obama as laid out in a separate analysis by The Chronicle.

In Massachusetts, the report said, Romney helped spearhead a 2003 effort by the nation’s governors to persuade Congress and President George W. Bush to extend a lifeline to the AmeriCorps national service program.

He also appointed his wife as an unpaid liaison to a White House unit set up to funnel federal aid to religious groups for social services.

On the campaign trail, he has vowed to cut federal income-tax rates. At the same time, he would limit tax deductions and exemptions for high earners, but would strive to maintain incentives to encourage housing, charitable giving and health care.

A President Romney would end federal support for any group that “primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services”—read: Planned Parenthood.

However, the candidate did decline to sign an anti-abortion “pro-life pledge” in 2011 because it would affect thousands of American hospitals.

Romney has said he would reinstate the Mexico City Policy—rescinded by President Obama—that barred government-funded nonprofits from providing abortion services in other countries. He would also pull the plug on U.S. spending on any foreign-assistance programs that promote or perform abortions.

According to the report, federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting System would end or be severely reduced by a Republican administration. According to Romney, PBS should seek advertising to replace government subsidies.

Candidate Romney does not think the U.S. should be spending as much as it does on foreign aid, especially when this means borrowing from China to give humanitarian aid to another country. “We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people that are taking that humanitarian aid today.”

Alleviation of poverty? Well, the free-enterprise system “has helped lift more people out of poverty across the globe than any government program,” according to Romney.

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