Earle I. Mack on the WSJ Daily Wrap Show

Michael Castner: Could changes to our charitable deductions cause a drop to our giving?  Joining us right now is Earle Mack, American businessman and former United States Ambassador to Finland.  Mr. Ambassador, you appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday, what did you tell them?

Earle Mack: I told them definitely that as a charitable deduction is lowered or capped, people like me won’t be giving as much as they do now. Michael, it’s not that we donate to diverse charities becuase of the deduction.  We give because we see the need and its the right thing to do. But it’s inherent in human nature that people need a little incentive to make it at least somewhat in our own self interest to do the right thing.

Michael Castner: Let me ask you this, we’re talking with Earle Mack, American businessman and former United States Ambassador to Finland on his testimony in front of the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday about proposed changes to charitable deductions and why that would be bad for charities- what was the response that you got from members of Congress?

Michael Castner:  They were very polite and they listened and I was able to make some good points and the thing that I told them yesterday was don’t change the charitable deduction.  It means that museums won’t be able to expand their community outreach, new hospital wings won’t be built, new research centers won’t be created, new professors and teachers won’t be hired, and for every building that isn’t built, every expansion that is put on hold, and every research project that is abandoned you have a loss of momentum, the velocity of transactions, and that will curb the sizable ripple effect in the economy.  Michael, this is a 1.9 trillion, and I say trillion, dollar industry.  The non-profit sector and non-profits in America are a 1.9 trillion dollar industry for outreach, and they invest in every state in the United States.  I served for three years as chairman of the New York State Council of the arts and traveled all over the state of New York to hundreds of non-profits and seeing so many non-profit boards and chairing some of these non-profit boards you can see that if there was a 10% drop in giving the non-profits, which are usually very conservative, they will cut 20%.  Therefore you’re looking at 13 million people workforce, 5 1/2% of our GMP- 13 million jobs. So if we lose a few million jobs it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. And what’s going to happen is that if you cap the charitable contributions and people give even a little less, they’re going to come back to the government to subsidize them or they’re going to go out of buisness.

Michael Castle: Earle Mack, American businessman and former United States Ambassador to Finland joining us tonight from Palm Beach Florida.  Thank you so much for joining us.

Earle Mack: Thank you Michael.

Find the podcast featuring Earle Mack online here.