Of Tax Cuts, Inequality and Questionable Faith

The GOP tax bill was written largely by lobbyists with no input from Democrats. There were no public hearings and no completed analyses to determine projected effects–how could there be? There was no time in the rush to pass anything. One embarrassment is the fact that the bill as passed by the House violated Senate budget rules, and had to be re-voted after the violations were removed. If the bill had actually been crafted with thoughtful deliberation by our representatives as the founding fathers conceived the process, this kind of sloppy mistake would not likely occur.

Senator Cornyn has already said that this tax reform bill will make the ACA unworkable, forcing a de facto repeal of the law that brought health care to millions. The party that cares about deficits and debt just voted to increase the debt by $2.6 TRILLION over 10 years, when interest payments are figured in on the loans we will have to take out from countries like China.

The premise on which this bill was designed is a fairy tale, that lowering corporate taxes would stimulate more domestic investment, and increased wages. Actual history shows otherwise, and current studies indicate that corporations are likely to buy back shares of their stock and increase dividends to share holders before they pay workers more.

Few if any lawmakers had read the entire bill. How do you vote on something without knowing what it contains? Who it will hurt? How it actually works?

And so many of the people that support this claim they have a religious faith, most of them some flavor of Christianity. While some may claim that the calls to care for the poor and the vulnerable are individual ones, we are more effective by caring for them collectively in a nation this size. By taking away food from children and health care from the poor and seniors, we violate the fundamental premise of Jesus so-called “New Commandment,” that we love each other, or the second greatest commandment, to love our neighbors as we do ourselves.

There is no love in giving more money to people who already have more than they can possibly spend or use in multiple lifetimes. There is no love is taking away health care from poor children by failing to pass funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. There is no love in closing community health clinics. There is no love in failing to support the restoration of Puerto Rico after the hurricanes this year. There is no love is spending more and more and ever more on building bombs and guns and warships rather than educating our youth and building a society where crime is less profitable than contributing to society as an equal partner on a level playing field.

I wish they would disavow their lip-service loyalty and allegiance to the Prince of Peace. They are followers of greed and lovers of money. They are self-serving hypocrites to whom history will not be kind.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said yesterday that we are at a turning point in history. May it be so, but not as he might hope. May it be a turning point of an awakening to civility and cooperation over partisanship, of stewardship over exploitation, of concern for humanity over self-interest, of a burgeoning indulgence in generosity over greed.

America was once a shining example of hope and faith in human goodness and potential. Now, its corruption detracts from its gilded domes and stately columns and once-high ideals. The only way to make America truly great again is to turn from the blighted philosophy of greed and avarice that brought us to this moment in history, and return to the self-evident truths so forcefully proclaimed in the founding document of this nation:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Certainly a rich man’s happiness cannot be of greater worth than a poor man’s life. An immigrant’s pursuit of life and liberty must not be secondary to a rich man’s happiness. Perhaps that trio of endowments by God are in order, that life is supreme, and liberty cannot be experienced without life. Happiness can only truly be pursued by those who are free.

But as President Franklin Roosevelt pointed out,

“The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

Jobs for those who can work.

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privilege for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment — The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.”

The tax bill violates the first of FDR’s points because it will lead to increasing inequality. Security is on the chopping block as a result of this drive to reward the wealthy. Special privilege is all that is ultimately served in this bill. And civil liberties are constantly threatened by a party philosophy that relies on gerrymandered districts to maintain control.

We have lost our way as a nation. When the President calls for payment for protection from nations around the world, we are no better than gangsters ruling the streets by enforcing protection rackets.

We have lost our nobility of purpose and purity of motivation. We are not led by a government by, for and of the people. We have sold our birthright for a handful of promises that have no chance of fruition.

We must be better than this. We must provide opportunity for all. We must care for the least of these, the poor, the disabled, the hungry. We must realize that the measure of a man’s worth is not his bank account or the stable of politicians he commands but his willingness to serve and lead toward greater equality, not exacerbate the disease of greed and inequality.

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