Harris: Tax reform legislation should be moral document
Oregon Center for Christian Voices (OCCV) feels compelled to speak out against the deceptive and immoral federal tax reform law. The law includes steeply reduced tax rates for corporations, partnerships, real estate companies and people of wealth and power.
Rev. Dr. William Barber calls the law "an act of gross violence against America's poor to serve the country's richest and most powerful ... Extremist leaders are proposing to give billions in tax breaks to the wealthy, and to pay for it by raising taxes and cutting life-saving services for poor people, working poor people and the most vulnerable among us."
By contrast, Jesus sided with the poor and marginalized at the bottom of the economic pyramid, coming "to preach good news to the poor." (Luke 4:18). Likewise the Old Testament is replete with concern for the poor: "I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the needy, and executes justice for the poor." (Psalm 140:12).
Jesus spent much of his ministry healing the sick, including the blind, lame and mentally ill. The newly-passed tax law will gut key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and is expected to result in 13 million Americans losing health insurance. Young, healthy people will be able to opt-out of purchasing health insurance, raising rates for everyone else.
At a time when our planet is in crisis from global climate disruption, the legislation scales back incentives for wind and solar power and gives huge tax cuts to corporate polluters. This is a far cry from the Biblical mandate for "stewardship" of God's creation.
To promote tax cuts for the wealthy, the party that prides itself on fiscal restraint rushed headlong to increase the federal deficit by about $1.4 trillion without so much as a hearing. Clearly, they were afraid that hearings might reveal a multitude of uncomfortable truths.
People of faith are called to serve "the least of these," as Jesus referred to marginalized people. This includes giving our children safe, stable and loving homes, neighborhoods and schools. Cutting social services puts our kids at increased risk.
Whatever our political affiliation, we would do well to judge the tax reform law in the context of Jesus' words: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." (Matthew 25:35-6).
Oregon Center for Christian Voices believes that budgets at all levels of government should be treated as moral documents, since they reflect the priorities of society. The tax reform bill slams the door on social and economic justice, and leaves the poor and vulnerable out in the cold.
Andy Harris is a member of the board of directors for the Oregon Center for Christian Voices.
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