Local NPOs will feel burden of national policy changes.
Republicans also kept majorities in the House of Representatives (235-191) and the U.S. Senate (51-47). Despite one party controlling the legislative and executive branches, Tim Delaney excepts gridlock to continue at the federal level. "Certainly there are different players and different roles but a lot seems to be baked into the system at this point," said Delaney, president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits. Divisions within both the Republican and Democratic parties will continue to push policy work to the state level "where so much has been happening," he said.
"The bottom line is, this is going to drive more policy work to the states," Delaney said, although that doesn't mean there won't be changes in federal policy. Sequestration is one of the most pressing issues, he said. Shifts in federal priorities, such as increased defense spending, likely mean cuts to domestic spending. That normally means nonprofits and foundations have to pick up the slack, he said, "which we've been asked to pick up since the Great Recession started. There's not much more room to pick up."
Trump also promised to dismantle Obamacare and various executive orders. While new overtime regulations still will go into effect in December, "trying to undo that will lead to a variety of legislative if not legal battles," Delaney said.
As a candidate, Trump talked about repealing the Johnson Amendment, which limits what nonprofits can do in elections and prohibits directly endorsing candidates. That could lead to the politicization of nonprofits, "which many of us believe would be a very bad thing. Nonprofits currently must remain nonpartisan, it's part of the core of what we are: Neutral problem solvers, not people taking partisan positions," he said.
Organizations dedicated to civil and reproductive rights wasted no time taking the offensive after Election Day. Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) urged Trump to reconsider campaign promises including the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants, a ban on Muslims entering the country and punishing women for accessing abortion.
"Our staff of litigators and activists in every state, thousands of volunteers, and millions of card-carrying supporters are ready to fight against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights," Romero stated.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, was similarly adamant that current mission efforts will continue. "The majority of Americans, including Trump's own voters, support access to health care at Planned Parenthood and want abortion to stay legal and safe," Richards stated. "We will fight to make sure those rights are protected and that people can still access the care they need. We will not give up, we will not back down, and we will not be silenced."
Leaders at the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) were texting each other well into the Oakland, Calif., evening on election night, preparing for a Trump win, according to Catherine Tactaquin, executive director. "We did think a Trump victory was entirely possible, but not something we really wanted to contemplate," said Tactaquin. "We don't want regression. We are concerned about aggressive deportation. Our concern out of the election is a greater level of tolerance at the public level feeding into a pretty blatant racial divide and xenophobia that was in some of the discourse."
Much of immigration reform falls on Congress, not the White House, Tactaquin noted--adding that support for reform hasn't been in place in Congress for the past decade. The question that remains is whether Congressional Republicans will look to be more amenable to bipartisan proposals or whether a Trump presidency will signal to them that a broad, diverse base is unnecessary. Tactaquin expects an electoral base of some kind to be built around what was exhibited in the Trump campaign.
With Republicans now holding both the presidency and Congress, NNIRR will continue to look toward states to help make headway. State-specific efforts have been used secure basic services for the immigrant community such as improved access to healthcare among immigrants in California, Tactaquin said. Civic engagement, fully engaging the immigrant community, will also be more of a focus moving forward, she said.
Setbacks for the immigrant rights community are nothing new, according to Tactaquin, referencing a number of previous measures including California Proposition 187 in 1994 that sought to exclude illegal immigrants from public benefits. In response to Proposition 187, NNIRR created BRIDGE, an educational initiative intended to galvanize non-immigrant communities under a host of immigrant issues, including employment. Tactaquin predicted that such efforts are likely to be revisited.
The election, too, leaves a greater role for the sector as a whole to collaborate, grow on shared values and navigate through how funders react to the change in power, Tactaquin opined. "The progressive movement often resides in nonprofits and among nonprofits there is certainly an effort for those of us to work collaboratively," she said. "But not all of us have shared values. Are there places, apart from being nonprofits, to build greater collaboration?"
Dan Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector, believes so. "The heart of the future of our work is the notion of community building," he said. That sense of building unity comes from a number of dimensions, he said. For one, conferences and meetings between the philanthropic community and grant-seeking organizations continue to be important. In organization such meetings, especially its annual conference, leaders at Independent Sector see the organization's role as being less about dictating what is going on and more about finding identified strengths and weaknesses.
Second, there is a strong desire to engage with the incoming administration, Cardinali said. Polling data acquired six months ago by Independent Sector showed a clear bipartisan interest to have a voice in the next administration regardless of whether it leaned left or right. Strong subsectors with very specific goals exist throughout the nonprofit community, he noted, and Independent Sector's role will essentially be to support a thoughtful and unified voice, promote connections between the sector and administration and get out of the way.
"We take that role very seriously," Cardinali said. "There is an opportunity for us in the social sector to represent the full range of government. That wouldn't change with whomever is in the White House."
Tax reform is expected to be among the first priorities for a Trump administration. Dean Zerbe, national managing director of tax consulting firm Alliantgroup and former senior counsel to the Senate Finance Committee, expects a major tax reform package within the first year of the Trump presidency, concentrated on slashing tax rates to boost jobs and economic. He doesn't expect the reform to immediately tackle much in the way of charitable proposals or incentives, as George W. Bush did.
Congress is likely to keep the legislation fairly straightforward to be able to get it passed quicker, meaning a reconciliation vote in several months. "That would be my best read: not expect much good, bad or indifferent regarding charity and charitable giving to show up in a big tax bill," Zerbe said.
Provisions included in comprehensive tax reform pushed by former House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) in 2014 could get some attention but also could serve as a distraction to the focus on jobs and economic growth. The reform package included some aspects affecting donor-advised funds and college endowments. The issue of donor-advised fund payouts could be always be done administratively, Zerbe said. Trump had mentioned endowments and college affordability during the campaign. But most provisions are merely concepts at this stage, having not secured even a committee vote.
There are two primary means of charitable deductions: income and estate. There are some disparities between Trump's plans for itemized income tax deductions and the House Republican platform, leading to mystery in terms of how the two will merge. Both are proposing lower marginal ordinary income tax rates.
"With lower rates, we might think that because the tax benefit on the income side is less, there might be less of an incentive to give," said Suzanne Shier, chief tax strategist for the Foundation & Institutional Advisors division of Northern Trust Wealth Management. "But, remember, if people are paying less in taxes, they might have more discretionary income and may choose to give," she said.
Plans for estate taxes are clearer and work under the same concept, according to Shier. Both Trump and the House Republicans are proposing a repeal of the estate tax. The loss of tax incentive, but increase in disposable wealth, spiked charitable giving during its one-year repeal in 2010, Shier said. In 2010, 21 percent of the value of estates worth $10 million or more were donated--a total of $6 billion into the sector. That rate was 12 percent in 2009 and 14 percent in 2011.
Shier said any changes will take a while to come to fruition and that collaboration is necessary between the House Ways and Means Committee and Department of Treasury. Trump's inaugural address and State of the Union address early next year should be looked at for clues as to how that transition will run. "There will be a time gap here before we see any changes," she said. "We should be looking at milestones along the way."
At the state level, there were more than 150 ballot measures ranging from increasing the minimum wage to allowing for medicinal or recreational use of marijuana. There were races for attorney general in 10 states, six of which were held by Democrats and four by Republicans. Incumbents were not seeking re-election in four states: Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
In California, Attorney General Kamala Harris easily defeated Rep. Loretta Sanchez, garnering 67 percent of the vote. She will succeed the retiring Barbara Boxer in the Senate. The seat was solidly Democratic but was the first election to use the state's top-two primary system. Under Harris, the attorney general's office in California has spurred litigation against its requirement that nonprofits disclose Schedule B donor information to state charity officials.
In 2010, Harris was the first black woman elected attorney general in California, winning re-election in 2014. She will become the second black female elected to the U.S. Senate.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was active in three state ballot questions. In Massachusetts, voters approved a measure to ban extreme confinement of farm animals and restrict the sale of animal products that come from confinement. HSUS also fought a measure in Oklahoma that it said would prevent future regulations on agriculture, including humane treatment standards. In Oregon, HSUS supported a state policy to restrict wildlife trafficking and ban the trade in body parts of 12 species of "imperiled" animals.
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|Author:||Hrywna, Mark; Segedin, Andy|
|Publication:||The Non-profit Times|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2016|
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