Harriette L. Cohen, Mount Laurel
Charitable tax deduction crucial
As The Inquirer noted in "Charity steps into the breach" (June 27), individual donors increased charitable giving by 4 percent nationally in 2011. As the CEO of one of the largest nonprofits in the region, I can tell you that philanthropy makes an enormous difference in what we are able to do for children and families.
That is why I have grave concerns about various proposals in Washington to reduce or eliminate the value of itemized deductions for charitable contributions. Some policymakers may view this as a way to reduce revenue losses for the Treasury, but it would be disastrous for nonprofits that often serve our nation's most disadvantaged citizens. The charitable deduction is the only tax incentive in which the true benefit is directed not to the taxpayer but to society as a whole.
In addition to the $6 million that Children's Hospital of Philadelphia provided last year in free or discounted care for families who were unable to pay, much of CHOP's lifesaving medical research is accomplished through donor funding.
This fall, CHOP will open a new primary care center in West Philadelphia made possible by a single donor. Reach Out and Read at CHOP, also donor-supported, put 72,000 books last year into the hands of children from low-income families. And donor support has been essential to our Homeless Health Initiative, which sends CHOP doctors and nurses into homeless shelters.
Through the generosity of donors, charities are indeed bridging the gap as local, state, and federal governments are forced to freeze or cut budgets and even eliminate vital programs.
Removing incentives for individuals to support those charities is not the way to solve the nation's fiscal ills.
Steven M. Altschuler, M.D., CEO, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Start river taxis from 30th Street
It would be a true tragedy if Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's plans to expand its prestigious campus into the Devil's Pocket neighborhood and bring hundreds of new, high-paying jobs and green spaces to the area were vetoed or delayed because the planners cannot "solve the transit issue" ("CHOP expansion could bring jobs, traffic," Friday).
The proposed site is just downriver from 30th Street Station, the region's largest ground transportation hub. Instead of running shuttles or adding new bus routes, why can't the city offer commuters a ferry or river taxi from 30th Street? Indeed, a river taxi could also increase access to other important river destinations, including the Art Museum, Bartram's Garden, the Sunoco refinery, and Fort Mifflin, and could lead to increased recreational use of the Schuylkill. Moreover, river transportation would obviously not overcrowd the narrow street's of Devil's Pocket and would minimize the impact of the project on the community.
Eric Santoro, Philadelphia
Why not show ID to vote?
How can anyone logically argue that when exercising the most precious right we have as American citizens, the right to vote, that picture IDs are not necessary ("Must head off election debacle," Sunday)? We must prove who we are every day when cashing a check, making a purchase, getting a drink, or obtaining heath care. But not to vote? Really? This right is so sacred that just one illegal vote is one too many.
Mike Sofranko, Valley Township