As our politicians decide whether to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, I'm reminded of Prov. 22:16:
"Oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss."
Haven't we already seen this proverb play out with the housing and financial crises and the Great Recession? Yet such redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top is exactly what extending the tax cuts do -- a sin for various reasons.
Our political leaders are considering tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans just as unemployment benefits begin to run out for nearly 2 million people. This is immoral. Rather, letting the tax cuts expire -- they weren't intended to be permanent -- would pay down the debt by $700 billion over the next 10 years. That sounds like fiscal responsibility.
Compromising on these tax breaks is the opposite; it's irresponsible. Temporary tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans this year would likely turn into permanent cuts, since history shows us nobody attempts to raise taxes in an election year. And as the country's budget deficit looms, tax cuts would only add to the money the U.S. doesn't have. The budget deficit must be cut, but those who can afford to help should carry the heaviest weight.
Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office says reducing the income tax on top earners is one of the most inefficient ways to stimulate the economy. Yet we're in dire need of economic and financial stimulation, as one in five children live in poverty and one in six workers can't find full-time work.
In our economy, people and profits are increasingly disconnected. The stock market is rising. And corporate profits have risen for seven consecutive quarters, to the highest annual rate ever recorded over the last 60 years. It's been thought that as profits are restored, jobs will return and tax cuts will spur business. "But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on," investor Warren Buffet recently said.
As our political leaders consider tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, Patriotic Millionaires have said that "during our nation's moment of need, we are eager to do our fair share." Likewise, Faithful Americans for Fiscal Strength said, "As citizens of this country and people of faith, we have an obligation to those in need."
The Bush tax cuts give to the rich while oppressing the poor, which, as Proverbs says, will only lead to loss. Millionaires don't need tax cuts; the common good does.