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Reform Jewish Movement Calls on House to Reject 'Supermajority' Constitutional Amendment

WASHINGTON, April 15, 1999--Leaders of the Reform Jewish movement, speaking on behalf of the largest branch within the American Jewish community, asked the House of Representatives to reject House Joint Resolution 37, which proposes amending the Constitution of the United States to require a two-thirds vote in each chamber to raise taxes.

In a letter today to select House members, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Judge David S. Davidson, chair of the Commission on Social Action, wrote "Amending the Constitution to favor cutting critical programs over increasing internal revenue is unfair and immoral and distorts this vital decision-making process."

The full text of the letter from Rabbi Saperstein and Judge Davidson follows:

On behalf of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, we would like to express our opposition to H.J. Res. 37, which proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States requiring a supermajority on internal revenue laws that increase the internal revenue. Such an amendment would undermine the democratic principles of majority rule on which this nation is based and would violate the value of social justice so central to Jewish thought and American ideals.

Three thousand years of Jewish thought and communal practice teach that the moral test of any society is what its economic and social policies do for the most vulnerable of God's children. An amendment to the Constitution requiring a supermajority to raise taxes would likely lead to cuts in social service programs, adversely impacting the vulnerable populations they serve. It is improbable that many bills increasing internal revenue would be able to receive the approval of two-thirds of the House of Representatives. Therefore, when the government requires additional revenue in future years-to pay down the debt or reduce the deficit when it reappears in fifteen years-it will likely reduce funding for programs that deliver essential services to the needy in our land, while the major form of government aid to the well-to-do, i.e. tax breaks, would likely remain politically protected.

When the government requires revenue, members of Congress must make tough choices about whether to decrease funding for government programs or increase taxes. Amending the Constitution to favor cutting critical programs over increasing internal revenue is unfair and immoral and distorts this vital decision-making process. We urge members of Congress to oppose H.J. Res. 37.

Sincerely,

Rabbi David Saperstein
Director

Judge David S. Davidson
Chair, Commission on Social Action

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.




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