Ralph Reed, who helped build the Christian Coalition, said House Republicans should fight to retain charitable tax deductions and child tax credits as they negotiate with President Barack Obama on avoiding automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to start in January.
“You’d better start figuring out a way to be for middle-class families with children instead of looking like all you care about is a guy’s capital gains tax,” Reed said in an interview yesterday with Bloomberg Government.
He said he’d conveyed that message to House Republican leaders, who in the talks with Obama have resisted his push for generating more tax revenue from wealthier Americans.
Reed also said that so-called social conservatives who tend to focus on issues such as opposing abortion rights “shouldn’t be trapped into this stained glass ghetto of, ‘We’re the people that you talk to about abortion and same-sex marriage, but we don’t know the first thing about economic policy or fiscal policy.’”
Reed, 51, served as the Christian Coalition’s executive director and helped it become influential within Republican circles. He left the group in 1997 and three years ago started the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a nonprofit organization that identifies and reaches out to Evangelical Christian voters. He said the Georgia-based group raised more than $10 million this year and spent most of it on voter registration and issue advocacy efforts.
Between his work with the coalitions Reed served as a political consultant for George W. Bush’s two presidential campaigns and unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor of Georgia. His work on behalf of Indian tribes with casino interests linked him to the scandal that led to the imprisonment of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Reed, who received more than $4 million from Abramoff clients, faced no charges in the case.
Negotiations on the so-called fiscal cliff -- the more than $600 billion in scheduled tax increases and government spending cuts -- are centered too much on tax rates for the wealthy, Reed said in the Bloomberg interview.
“It would probably be a lot more effective if more Republican elected officials and members of the Senate and the House were jumping on grenades to save the child tax credit,” he said, “to strengthen it, index it to inflation and increase it, and save deductions for charitable giving because it helps the poor and the needy than they are trying to save the top 2 percent.”
Obama, in the fiscal-cliff talks, wants to maintain existing tax cuts for an estimated 98 percent of Americans set to expire in 2013 while letting tax rates rise for individuals with an annual income of more than $200,000 and couples with incomes exceeding $250,000. Republicans, led by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, want an across-the-board tax-cut extension.
Lawmakers in both political parties have called for limiting or capping tax breaks, which could include the child credit and deductions for charitable giving.
Reed also is chairman and chief executive officer of Century Strategies LLC, an Atlanta-based public-relations firm he founded in 1997.