John A: You make some good points here. We agree that much giving that qualifies as “charitable” under the deduction is misdirected and we agree that the deduction is an ineffective way to help the poor. You are not alone in the idea that replacing the deduction with a tax credit and focusing it more narrowly on truly charitable causes would be worthwhile reforms.
My own view remains that if the choice is between the deduction as it is and scrapping it altogether, I favor scrapping it. If the reforms you suggest were tried, and worked, I might be more supportive.
Thanks for your input.