Opinion

The tax bill: What happened to ‘family values’ and ‘pro-life’ principles?  

Then-Republican presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by Family Research Council Action, on Sept. 25, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana; caption amended by RNS)

(RNS) — Abraham Lincoln said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Sure enough, now that Republicans are in power with majorities in both chambers of Congress, the cabinet and the presidency, the true character of the GOP and its leaders is increasingly clear.

Endowed with the power to actually legislate good, to help families, to secure a brighter future for our children, Republican politicians have chosen greed, racism and hypocrisy rather than “family values” and “pro-life” principles we’ve been hearing about for years.

Political expediency should not trump spiritual principles that call on us, especially now, to leave no one behind. As 1 Corinthians 10:24 reminds us: None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others.

The massive tax package that Republican leaders have been ramming through the House and Senate over the last few weeks is the best example of just how hollow their concern for “life” rings. The proposed bill gives more than a trillion dollars in tax breaks to the rich and corporations, including multinational companies making record profits, such as Apple and Pfizer.

It pays for those cuts with a tax hike on the middle class; cuts to health care for seniors, kids and people with disabilities; and repeal of an Affordable Care Act provision that would leave 13 million more people without insurance. No one escapes harm under this bill except for corporations that will see a permanent 15 percent tax cut and millionaires, who will get more than $5.8 billion in tax breaks by 2027, according to the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

To lavish gifts on the rich and corporations while demolishing any chance at a decent life for many other people who need help is cruel. Yet that’s exactly what Republican lawmakers would accomplish if a proposed $1 trillion cut to Medicaid to pay for tax “reform” is enacted. About 1 in 5 Americans are enrolled in Medicaid. Nearly half — 43 percent — of enrollees are children and a disproportionate number of them are Black, Latino and Native American.

In James 2: 15-16, we are challenged: Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

In fact, the Republicans — for all their past rhetoric about families — have proposed policy after policy that hurt children of all ages. The GOP has repeatedly tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even though research shows that when parents lose health care, children are more likely to go without health care. Republicans have also proposed paying for the renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program by cutting health care for adults and seniors in their families.

The House and Senate tax bills also call for changes to the tax code so that immigrant families with low incomes pay for tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. The tax package denies low-income families, immigrant families and mixed-status households with average incomes of only $21,000 a year the child tax credit and the refundable additional child tax credit. That could impact up to 5 million children of tax-paying parents in immigrant families, the majority of whom are actually U.S. citizens. Latino families, who make up about 85 percent of immigrant and mixed-status families who qualify for CTC and ACTC, would be hit the hardest, losing an average of $1,800 or 8.5 percent of their annual income because of this proposal.

Up to 1 million children affected by the loss of CTC and ACTC are young “Dreamers” without Social Security numbers. They already are facing tremendous hardships because President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, leaving more than 800,000 young people at risk for deportation and incarceration.

When it comes to priorities and values, it’s clear where President Trump and Republicans stand. It’s not with our families, and definitely not with our nation’s children.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what politicians in power say about “family” or “life.” What matters is what they do with that power.

Republicans plan to grant the wealthiest 1 percent and multinational corporations a massive tax giveaway and make our children and families pay for it. That reveals their true character.

(Bishop Dwayne Royster is the political director of PICO National Network, the largest grass-roots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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Dwayne Royster

42 Comments

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  • Silly Bishop, “pro life” and “family values” aren’t actual platforms for conservatives. They are just euphemisms for attack people and force them to do as we say.

    Conservatives don’t care about life or welfare of families. It’s just about telling people what to do.

    The tax bill is an abomination of biblical proportions. I would love to see Trumpkins supporting it tell why the ultra wealthy need more money while the middle and working class pay more taxes and get less from government.

  • They were code word bait, and very obnoxious ones at that. Pretty gold glitter spray paint covering a seething ugly mass of hatred.

  • What happened to fiscal responsibility? The republicans have never been for it.

    What happened to states rights? They just passed a bill authorizing concealed carry into states that don’t allow it freely.

    What happened to individual freedom? Teh Geyz wanted to get married.

    What happened to Religious freedom? Teh Geyz wanted to get married.

    What happened to respect for life? Guns guns guns guns guns guns guns.

  • To be blunt, I actually blame a lot of mainstream Christians for not fighting harder against this and glossing over fundamentalist Christian behavior by thinking those fundajelicals were just “mistaken” or just have different interpretations of their shared faith even though a lot of people were victimized by them. Why and how does Tony Perkins get continually invited to mainstream network news shows on Sunday despite leading a hate group, and having hired Josh Duggar and now is found out to have hidden sexual misconduct by a politician?

    You don’t just “oops” into white nationalism and you don’t “oops” into attacking various minorities of different ethnicities, races and religions. I still hear lectures on how the people who voted for Trump need to have their feelings comforted and considered a higher priority while the rest are just told to be quiet, work harder, be twice as good to get less. I hear how we’re supposed to feel sorry for coal miners while retails jobs, dominated by women & minorities, are decimated and frankly are a MUCH higher percentage of the work force.

    Frankly if you’re surprised by Trump voters, you shouldn’t be because a lot of people have been warning you for DECADES.

  • Because bad ideas, especially when they are threatening to become actions, should always be fought against tooth and nail. You believe the same thing but aim it towards other groups.

  • No it’s not. It’s just the same old battle: some people are just desperate to believe that not only are they better than others, but that those others are somehow much worse than themselves, and deserve to have the full might of the state coming down on them.

  • Well said.
    “You don’t just “oops” into white nationalism and you don’t “oops” into attacking various minorities of different ethnicities, races and religions.”

    I am probably going to steal that line one day. It is fantastic and straight to the point.

  • So of course, you have elevated yourself above “some people are just desperate to believe that not only are they better than others, but that those others are somehow much worse than themselves, and deserve to have the full might of the state coming down on them.”

  • Please elaborate. Maybe even address the point made. Otherwise, you might as well follow Matthew 6:5-6

    🙂

  • Christ was teaching that in reference to the Pharisees. Christ taught and prayed in public all the time hon.

  • “To lavish gifts on the rich and corporations while demolishing any chance at a decent life for many other people who need help is cruel. ”
    So profoundly uninformed. USA has significantly higher corporate tax than the global average. This hurts the economy, hurts, jobs, and reduces “chance at a decent life for many.” The way to help middle and lower income families is to help American businesses thrive in the global economy.

  • 30 years of neoliberal economic policies say your assertions are complete and total garbage. Tax breaks to the uppermost wealthy have never translated into gains for the middle or working class.

    Far from it. It has meant hoarding of wealth at the top, the slow destruction of public services and utilities, the erosion of the key signs of middle class existence, increasing tax burdens on those least able to afford them. This tax plan abomination makes people who work for a living pay more taxes to get far less out of government.

    BTW EU countries generally have higher income tax rates overall, but also have higher standards of living. People are getting value for their tax dollars per capita.

  • It hurts the economy? Absolute nonsense! The economy, brought back by Obama after the last republican recession, is booming booming booming.

  • My comment was about corporate tax, not income tax. But on that topic, does anyone really think “the wealthy” just sit on money that isn’t taken from them via taxes? Pretty sure they mostly either invest it or spend it… which goes back into economy and helps everyone. Sure, it helps some more than others, but “rich getting richer” doesn’t hurt lower income folks like me (or a lot lower income, like I was a few years ago). Not a bit. Why not let them have their fun? All this resentment is unhealthy and pointless, too.

  • In 2012, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback sought to boost the economy by sharply cutting income taxes across the board. Under his plan, the tax rate on pass-through business income fell to 0. The idea was to boost investment, raise employment, and jump-start the economy. This type of supply-side, trickle-down theory has been proposed by Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., George Bush Jr., Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and many others.

    The experiment with tax policy was such a failure that a Kansas Republican-controlled legislature not only voted to raise taxes, but did so over the veto of the governor.

  • Corporate taxes are not much of a bar for companies wishing to operate in the developed world either. Despite lower corporate taxes you never saw an exodus of European companies to the US.

    Yes the wealthy do sit on their money. Trickle down never happens. Nearly 40 years of waiting for them to invest in us all hasn’t panned out. The middle class has been shrinking and worse off not better. Income disparities have increased. They are not investing in the interests of anyone but themselves.

    See your problem is that you ignore nearly two generations of the same activities and their effects. All this money not coming in taxes has left infrastructure crumbling, poor enforcement of regulations protecting the public, social services strained and government lacking the ability to operate effectively

    You are being hurt but are too thick to realize it. You are paying more to the government and getting less from it.

  • Sandy — this is a reply to Spud; but I refuse to acknowledge him directly. He is not worthy of my time directly.

    To Counter the accusation —

    — John 8:44-45
    ” Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.”

    I don’t need any other source than the Scriptures to prove my point.

    Spud accuses me of all kinds of evil and hate; when in truth, he is the hater. He has slandered me from day one and as far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t exist. He is not human.

  • So you acknowledge Jesus was a “Red Sea Pedestrian” and I am making an erroneous statement about your belief.

    Then I shall apologize for misrepresenting you so badly.

  • What we have seen with the election of Trump and the Republican majorities in the Senate and House is an expediting of an Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged coup over our government. In addition, it shows that Trump has no monopoly on delusional self-absorption because he is a reflection of many in his base.

    The conservative mantra that the best government is a small government that governs the least is code for wanting to elect a government that one can ignore. Such a mantra eliminates the notion that government should represent its people. Instead, it fosters the idea that government should not get in the way as we should live for ourselves despite the fact that our society and economic economic revolves around interdependency.

  • Royster might have some good points in here, but the two lies/distortions and the abuse of scripture makes it harder to take the rest of the article seriously.

    First, the lie — analysts agree that on average “[t]the plan would cut taxes and lead to higher after-tax incomes for taxpayers at all levels of income.” So yes, the poor get a tax cut along with the rest.

    Second, eliminate the Obamacare mandate and some people with CHOOSE not to sign up. Are they adults able to make up their own minds on what coverage they want, or aren’t they? At best we should require dirt-cheap catastrophic health insurance and leave to them the decision of what bells-and-whistles they want.

    And finally his quote from James is about how YOU choose to act, personally, to help the poor. Forcing someone else to pony up the funds to pay someone else to help the poor is NOT Christian charity by a long shot — if anything, it is exemplified by Scrooge’s attitude at the beginning of “A Christmas Carol.”

  • “So yes, the poor get a tax cut along with the rest.”

    After removing many services and deductions they depend on. Its like stealing $20 from your wallet and giving you back $5 and calling it a windfall.

    “Are they adults able to make up their own minds on what coverage they want, or aren’t they?”

    Healthcare is not a free market system and people do not choose to go without it. They either can afford it or they become sick &/or impoverished. The ACA was already a compromised effort whose effectiveness was attacked and undermined by conservatives. Further attacks on it serve no purpose for the middle and working classes.

    “. Forcing someone else to pony up the funds to pay someone else to help the poor is NOT Christian charity ”

    Showing contempt for the poor and attacking their ability to survive is not Christian charity either. Public services are not charity. They are public protection, efforts to create political stability, and give taxpayers as a whole something for their contribution to the system. Our nation puts the largest tax burden on its middle and working classes to get the least out of government,

    We do not let people starve to death, fall into homelessness or go without life saving medical treatment simply out of notions of doing right by others. Persistent issues with grinding deadly poverty undermine the political stability of a nation (See Pre-Revolution France and currently Venezuela). They create the kind of dissent and anger which topples governments and leads to dictatorship. It is not so much we are helping the poor for its own sake. Its that we are trying to prevent them from becoming the PO’ed pitchfork and torch wielding mob. Tumbril insurance.

    Plus we did not need:
    – To attack access to healthcare for 8-10 million Americans
    – To allow churches to make political endorsements
    and flood elections with more dark money
    – To cut $400 billion from Medicare
    – A Private jet tax break
    – $1 trillion added to the deficit

  • Oh, please, Republican “pro-life” (that is, pro fetus) posturing was never more than a cynical–and wildly successful–ploy to win church-going Catholics into voting Republican. The real aims of the Republican party have nothing to do with religion, morality, or family values. They are centered on what powerful lobbyists and billionaires want, period. The lobbyists and billionaires do not care about abortion, but they appreciate how being against abortion attracts more voters into their wholly owned Republican Party.

  • The rich getting richer hurts lower income people when the latter’s tax avoidances are taken away and given to the rich so they can get richer!

  • Moslems are a threat to this nation.And to say they are not shows stupidy & just plain ignorance

  • Bigot enabling ISIS and who hates religious freedom says wut?

    You are a stooge for terrorists and too dimwitted and hateful to realize it.

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