US Bishops to Congress: Don’t Cut Anti-Poverty Programs to Cut Taxes

via Christopher White:

In the midst of President Donald Trump’s efforts to pass nationwide tax reform legislation, the United States Conference of Bishops (USCCB) has sent a letter to members of congress reminding them of “the critical obligation of creating a just framework aimed at the economic security of all people, especially the least of these.”

The letter was sent on Wednesday by Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The letter outlined six areas of moral principles that the bishops said should shape Congressional priorities: Care for the poor, the strengthening of families, maintaining progressivity of the tax code, raising adequate revenue for the common good, avoiding cuts to poverty programs to finance tax reform, and incentivizing charitable giving and development.

Citing Pope Francis, the letter said “those services which society offers its citizens are not a type of alms, but rather a genuine ‘social debt’ with respect to the institution of the family, which is foundational and which contributes to the common good.”

via USCCB:

The poor should not be burdened with income taxation as they struggle to meet their daily needs, and programs designed to support them and lift them out of poverty must be adequately funded….

Instruments of the tax code that benefit the family such as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned
Income Tax Credit are especially important. These credits should be increased, and those increases
be made refundable so that the benefits can reach the poorest families, including the working poor….

The common good and the stability of society require that the tax code include progressive elements designed to recognize the means of individuals and families, as well as the economic inequality present in society, and apportion tax burdens accordingly….

Resources are required for society to defend and promote the common good. The USCCB has affirmed that “the tax system should raise adequate revenues to pay for the public needs of society, especially to meet the basic needs of the poor” (EJA, 202)….

The loss of revenue created by tax cuts should not be made up by cuts to programs that serve those most in need. Recent proposals by leaders in Washington indicate an openness toward steep cuts to the social safety net and discretionary programs that serve those in poverty….

Perhaps unintentionally, though, the plan risks crippling charitable giving