Reform Jewish Movement Opposes Tax Cuts Which Do Not Meet the Needs of Average Americans
Feldman: While the House and Senate conference committee will determine which specific tax breaks should be included in a final tax bill, there is little discussion about why we are choosing to spend any amount of money on tax cuts when children go hungry and families are left without a place to call home.
Contact: Alexis Rice or Rachel Wainer 202-387-2800
NEW YORK, May 19, 2003 - In response to the Senate's recent passage of tax cut legislation, Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Reform Movement's Commission on Social Action, issued the following statement:
On May 15th the Senate passed a tax cut that squanders the opportunity to grow our economy and help Americans who are struggling to survive. Instead of strengthening Social Security, improving our schools and providing health care to our children, Senators passed a tax cut that would benefit the wealthiest Americans.
The Senate tax plan includes an acceleration of the rate cuts scheduled to take effect in 2004 and 2006. In addition, the bill would exempt 50 percent of dividend income from taxation in 2003 and completely eliminate the taxation of dividends in 2004. Although this provision is scheduled to expire at the end of 2006, Congressional leaders have already expressed their intention to extend it prior to the expiration date. The expiration provision in both the Senate and House plans are merely gimmicks to artificially limit the stated cost of the tax cut plans. If the tax cuts were extended until 2013, the real cost of the Senate tax plan would be more than $660 billion and the House plan would cost more than $865 billion.
While the House and Senate conference committee will determine which specific tax breaks should be included in a final tax bill, there is little discussion about why we are choosing to spend any amount of money on tax cuts when children go hungry and families are left without a place to call home. Since January 2001, the United States has lost 2.7 million jobs. Nearly nine million Americans are out of work. Yet the White House and Congress continue to insist on tax cuts that will drain the federal treasury and negatively impact programs that low-income families depend on to survive. As a nation, we must do more to meet the needs of children, the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the unemployed. The $380 billion cost of the dividend tax cut alone would be enough to provide comprehensive health care for all 9.2 million uninsured American children, make Head Start available for all unserved eligible children, provide affordable housing for 1 million families and hire 100,00 experienced teachers.
The Torah commands that we shall "open our hands to the poor and the needy among us," (Deuteronomy 15:7). This biblical mandate established one of the first social welfare systems on earth, a social welfare system that is currently in danger in America. It is this mandate which compels us to oppose Congress's tax cut plan that primarily benefits the wealthy in our society while it jeopardizes the integrity of programs that benefit all Americans.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .