Speaking at a faith-based initiative meeting in the White House last week, President Bush urged support for legislation that would encourage more charitable giving.
“Charitable giving is important for all of the people in our country, not just the wealthy. Everybody ought to be encouraged to give,” he said.
Two days later, Associated Press reported that the president and his wife had an adjusted income of $811,100 and donated $82,700 to charities.
They gave nearly 12 percent of their income to charity in 2001, down from the 16 percent given in 2000.
The Washington Posted reported that Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife had a taxable income of $4.3 million in 2001 and gave $79,275 or 1.8 percent to charity.
The percentage of charitable giving became an issue early in the 2000 presidential campaign. During a Republican Party debate, the moderator asked a question submitted by Rev. Eric Skidmore, a Methodist minister: “What percentage of your annual income do you share with charitable causes?”
Bush answered, “Laura and I try to contribute as generously as possible. I’m not sure of the percentage to which we have given to charities.”
Research at that time by the Baptist Center for Ethics found that the Bushes gave over 7 percent to charity in 1997, according to tax returns provided by the Bush campaign. In 1998, the Bushes reported $18.5 million in adjusted gross income and gave less than 2 percent to charity.
When asked in the 2000 presidential campaign about his charitable giving, Cheney reported that he had given “just over one percent” to charity, which he claimed was “appropriate.”