Faith-Based Effort Faulted by Former Official

The Bush administration cares more about the political benefits of establishing faith-based programs to help addicts and others than it does about the programs themselves, according to the former deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

The Washington Post reported Feb. 15 that former White House aide David Kuo said that there was “minimal senior White House commitment to the faith-based agenda,” a cornerstone of Bush's “compassionate conservative” efforts. Kuo added that plans to win $8 billion in funding for faith-based programs was met with indifference by Republicans and “knee-jerk” opposition by Democrats.

“Capitol Hill gridlock could have been smashed by minimal West Wing effort,” Kuo wrote on the religious website Beliefnet.com. “No administration since [Lyndon B. Johnson's] has had a more successful legislative record than this one. From tax cuts to Medicare, the White House gets what the White House really wants. It never really wanted the 'poor people stuff … Sadly, four years later these promises remain unfulfilled in spirit and in fact.”

A White House spokesman disagreed with Kuo's assessment, saying, “The faith-based and community initiative has been a top priority for President Bush since the beginning of his first term and continues to be a top priority. The president has mentioned the initiative in every State of the Union and fought for full funding.”

Kuo said he believed Bush personally has sincerity and compassion in his heart. “The point of the column is that the poor need to be dealt with by everybody,” he said. “There was phenomenal promise in the original vision for compassionate conservatism . . . and to try to pin blame on any one institution, one person, one body, one policy, is wrong. It's not about the White House, it's not about the Congress, it's not about interest groups. It's about everybody.”

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