By Bishop Dwayne Royster
There is no faith tradition in the history of the world that says poor people and middle class families should write checks to the wealthiest 1 percent. And yet, that’s exactly what the Republicans’ tax bill demands.
The Republican tax plan permanently cuts corporate tax rates for big businesses
like Wells Fargo, Apple and Pfizer by 15 percent and eliminates taxes on foreign profits—money earned overseas—for big multi-national corporations. To pay for those cuts, the Republicans plan to repeal a portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will leave 13 million more people uninsured and raise insurance premiums for millions more Americans who depend on the ACA for their health care.
Although the GOP claims that tax breaks for corporations will have trickle-down benefits for working families and the middle class, we know better. According to the Tax Policy Center, by 2027, the Republicans’ corporate tax cuts would provide a $14,890 tax break for households with incomes over $1 million and $94,540 for households in the top 0.1 percent (those with incomes over $3.1 million in 2017).
In fact, middle-income families would pay more in taxes under the Republican proposals because key deductions that lower their tax bills—like the State and Local Tax Deduction, education and tuition deductions, and medical expense deductions—would go away.
Moreover, the Republican plan would slash $1 trillion from Medicaid and nearly $500 billion from Medicare to pay for these outsized tax breaks for corporations, CEOs and shareholders.
Don’t let your eyes glaze over. We are talking about people like you and me. Take my friend, Alma, for example. Alma is a single working mother of two in California’s Central Valley. Sherlyn, her 8-year-old daughter, has rheumatoid arthritis. She can’t play like other kids for fear of breaking a bone. Bryan, her 13-year-old son, suffers from high blood pressure and fibromyalgia. He cannot walk by himself. Medicaid means the life or death of Alma’s children since they can’t be cured of these diseases.
As people of faith, we believe that all people are made in God’s image and therefore deserving of dignity and respect. Rich people who see a brother or sister in need, yet close their hearts against them, cannot claim that they love God (1 John 3:17).
Poor people, people with disabilities, seniors, and low-wage workers would lose the most under the Republicans’ tax proposals. Medicaid, Medicare, Pell Grants, food, housing, transportation, and virtually every other service we depend on will be cut, starving our communities, to pay for these massive tax giveaways. The winners are the folks at the top like President Trump and his fellow CEOs who will see millions in tax breaks because of the elimination of taxes that primarily impact the wealthy, like the estate tax—which is levied on people who have estates larger than $5 million and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which is in place to prevent the wealthy from avoiding taxes.
The American people aren’t stupid. Republicans claim their tax bill will help the economy, but only 25 percent of voters approve of the plan, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Fifty-nine percent of voters see right through the lies: they say the plan favors the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
Other polls show that the American people think that reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) should be a higher priority than tax cuts. Congress let the popular, bipartisan program expire at the end of September. Now, nearly a dozen states are running out of money to help 9 million low- and middle-income children lead healthier lives.
Tax cuts will cure all ills, the Republicans say, except the very real ills that threaten our bodies and our lives—particularly when politicians take our health care away. If our leaders refuse to do right by us, they will face the moral and political consequences of their actions.
Bishop Dwayne Royster is the Political Director of PICO National Network.