Five Mainline Protestant Leaders Call President’s FY06 Budget ‘Unjust’

If these leaders could, they would reestablish the welfare state which has been more destructive to black families than any program the government ever cooked up. It ties into the Leo article below, particularly the failure to offer any new ideas.

WASHINGTON, March 8 /U.S. Newswire/ — Leaders of five mainline Protestant denominations representing over 20 million followers in the United States today called President Bush’s 2006 federal budget “unjust.”


10 thoughts on “Five Mainline Protestant Leaders Call President’s FY06 Budget ‘Unjust’”

  1. Just the 2006 budget? If these people really wanted to understand the nature of government expenditures under Bush, they should look at his entire record. Because of how budgets are set against the baseline of the previous year, a 5% cut this year doesn’t mean much of last year the department expanded by 20%. No doubt many of these people are complainging about things such as education cuts, a department that has exploded under Bush, much to my disapproval.

    I really dislike this mixture of religion and economics. It gets us this weird ctypto-communisms.

  2. Budgets are moral documents in that they set forth our priorities as a nation as a people. How well aligned are the priorities of the Bush administration with the teachings of the Biblical prophets, and our savior Jesus Christ?

    “The Bush administration’s $2.6 trillion budget projects a record $427 billion budget deficit, not including any funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It includes increases in military spending, raising the defense budget to $421 billion, while at the same time proposing major cuts and changes to discretionary domestic spending on programs that benefit people living in poverty.

    Some of the proposed changes include:

    – Making permanent the tax cuts of 2001 – 70% of which benefited the top 20% of U.S. citizens
    – The elimination of block grants that aid poor communities
    – Making it more difficult for working poor families with children to be on Medicaid
    – A $355 million cut to programs that promote safe and drug-free schools
    – An 11% cut to housing and urban development programs
    – The elimination of 48 educational programs
    – The elimination of funding for vocational education

    Paying attention to the poorest among us is arguably the most central biblical imperative. Making permanent the tax cuts that benefit the richest among us is not a biblically ordained strategy.

    Moreover, the president’s proposed cuts and changes to low-income programs will not succeed in reducing the federal deficit. Reports released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that tax legislation and defense spending have done far more to increase the budget deficit than spending on domestic programs.

    When considering a document as important as this one, it is imperative that we take time to consider its impact on people living in poverty.”

  3. Taxes are nor a moral stand. The Sojo folks really get me bent our of shape with this economic thinking. Their rhetoric can be ripped straight out of an old communist leaflef. They have this deep need to take moral action and place it is some collectivist framework, a framework that nations are backing down from because of its history of failure.

    Maybe it is my just my inner economist speaking — well, not so inner since I am a economist by profession — but reading Sojo columns on economics is often painful.

    If budgets are moral documents, then both parties fail miserably every year, and there is nothing special about 2006. However, if they are moral documents, then can libertarians be moral at all? Any strong libertarian would gut the federal government and collapse the budget to a tenth of its size, but are they acting immorally or are they just acting in line with what they think to be best for the nation and her people? I’ll go for the second choice.

    Is there anything moral about government action anyways? Morality requires a free choice, not the disconnected act of filling out a check once a year to send to some far away agency that will do your good deeds for you.

    Sojo’s littany of talking points aren’t really that impressive. Things like community block grants should be axed. The block grant program has no oversight and is more often used to reward local donners. It’s pure pork. Or the tax cuts — more “wah” from the socialists when the government doesn’t take every penny out of people’s pockets — they are always going to go disproportionate to the upper income, since they pay more anyways. The NY Times printed a nice graphic a while showing how as a percent of what they pay in taxes, the lower your income the greater the income tax cut you got (with an exception for the top 1%). And I really don’t have a problem with that if it helps the economy along. Taxes are not a normative issue. If we found that a heavily regressive tax actually promoted economic growth and raised the stardard of living for the poor the best, I’d say go for it. The rest is just the same — Christian socialists couching proven bad economic policies in religion language since they’ve been defeated under every other vocabulary.

  4. The top 20% of wage earners in American, which includes dual income families and small business owners – people who earn an income of about $204,000 per year (doesn’t take much to be lumped in with the “evil rich” does it?) bear over 80% of the income tax burden, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

    The bottom 50% or wage earners are responsible for less then 5% of collected income taxes.

    Those in the lowest 20% of wage earners actually have no tax burden whatsoever at the end of the day. That means that those at this income level don’t send a check to the government when they file taxes, they get a check from the government.

    Here’s a little story, using a dinner out as an example, of how one can think about who pays how much in taxes and what happens when the force collecting the taxes decides to give a tax cut.

    Just remember these facts when you are assaulted by Leftist propoganda about how much of the tax cuts went to the top 20%. It’s kind of hard to cut taxes for people who don’t pay taxes in the first place.

    An aside, it is when I actually started reading the facts that I realized how much Leftist ideology is just plain garbage, distortion and lies; and it was when I actually opened my mind that I went from a mindless liberal to a thinking conservative.

  5. Based on further investigation of what constitutes the top 20% of income in America I need to correct a figure I gave above.

    Your household need only earn a monumental amount of … wait for it … about $84,000.00.

    Gee, a few more years, a few more raises and my family, too, might be part of the “evil rich.”

    Oh, well, I’m hated just because I’m a social and economic conservative, I might as well add being “rich” to the mix.

  6. As a single person in the top quintile with no dependents (in Ohio no less), would I like to pay less in taxes? Probably. At the same time, I feel that the welfare reforms of 1996 have limited abuses to the degree that I don’t feel I am being ripped off. I am also able to shelter much of my income from some of those taxes through investments and property that those living on “renter incomes” can’t.

    Do I deserve to have my taxes raised? For gosh sake, no. At the same time, I don’t need a cut.

  7. Daniel writes: “Just remember these facts when you are assaulted by Leftist propoganda about how much of the tax cuts went to the top 20%. It’s kind of hard to cut taxes for people who don’t pay taxes in the first place.”

    I don’t think it’s just a simple matter of who pays what percent of income tax. The issue is that over the years the tax burden has been shifted away from sources such as corporate income and capital gains and on to wages.

    When you consider wages you also have to look at FICA and Medicare. Historically FICA has gone up and the top tax rates have gone down. Tax rates on capital gains have also gone down. The net result is that with all the wage-related taxes added up a middle-class couple could end up paying a higher percentage of income in taxes than a billionaire whose income was from capital gains, especially as certain tax deductions are disallowed at various income levels. Of course the billionaire will pay more money in taxes, but the percent of income will be less.

    As you note, poor people don’t pay much in income tax, though they still pay FICA and Medicare. As the wealthy pay less in taxes the burden is made up elsewhere, either through increased taxes on the middle class or through spending cuts that can hurt the poor and middle class.

    In case anyone is worried about the plight of the rich, it should be noted that the top 1 percent in income in the U.S. control over one-third of the assets, the highest percent of any of the industrialized countries.

  8. Hi Dan! I have a math problem for you.

    The United States Federal government currently has an accumulated debt of $7,754,199,652,433.00. Source: US National Debt Clock:

    The United States currently has roughly 300 million people. Source: Population of the United States by Race and Hispanic/Latino Origin, Census 2000 and July 1, 2003

    Do you know you get if you divide $7,754,199,652,433 by 300,000,000. The answer is $25,847.33 That’s right Dan – you’re share of the national debt is $25,847.

    Now divide $400 billion (the size of estimated annual budget deficit) the by 300 million. The answer is $1,333. That’s right. Not only do you owe $25,847.33 but every year GW Bush blesses us with another fiscally irresponsible budget deficit the amount you owe increases by $1,333 dollars. So next year your share of the national debt will be $27,180.67.

    Now let me ask you. You right-wing Republicans like to complain about the “death tax.” Do you think it is fair that every child born in the US immediately faces a “birth tax” of $25,847.33 because people making over one million dollars don’t want to pay more taxes or give up any of their loopholes, or offshore accounts in Bermuda?

    I put it to you Dan the tax policy you advocate is immoral because it shifts the costs of government services enjoyed by our generation to the next generation for payment.

    I say to you Dan that the tax policy you advocate is fiscally irresponsible because you would have future US taxpayers paying off debt to foreign creditors rather than using their taxes to invest in their own country.

    Finally Dan, I ask you to admit that the tax policy you advocate is economic lunacy because it can only result in an Argentina-style economic meltdown as the credit-worthiness of the United States steadily deteriorates under the strain of irresponsible GOP borrow and spend policies and the foreign creditors finally pull out and leave us to finance our own gargantuan debt.

  9. Dean,

    Tax reform is possible, and is even being proposed by some Democrats. The current tax system is really a form of social control. Some behaviors are encouraged, others are discouraged. This leads to distortions in the economy, and can even lead to counterproductive investing being encouraged by the tax code. Further, the current loophole ridden system is inefficient, results in unnecessary compliance costs, and is a major drag on productivity.

    Russia has done well with a flat tax. Many EU countries do fine with a VAT. The point is, that the current tax system could be dumped for an equitable system that would be easier to administer, and that would encourage a higher savings rate.

    At the same time, it is a given that the federal government could certainly make due on less money. The U.S. currently outspends the next five countries combined in the category of defense expenditures. This is clearly ridiculous. A large number of weapons systems on order are highly expensive holdovers from the Cold War. Among these are the V-22 Osprey and the Sea Wolf submarine.

    Tax reform (as envisioned by such liberals as Charlie Rangel) combined with spending restraint could help to put us on a fiscally healthy path. The current Bush policies are absolutely counterproductive in every aspect, and you are right to criticize them. On the other hand, the current tax system itself is a major problem that Bush will not address. Carpe Diem, liberals!

  10. My friends, it all begins and ends with our love of God, our willingness to repent, and forgive those with whom we actually come in contact. I know one thing about God with absolute conviction–He forgives. Nothing else really matters. He will order the world properly, if we take care of our business with Him. If we try, out of the pettiness and darkness of our own hearts and minds, to do it for Him without first allowing Him to forgive us, all our efforts will be as dust.

    Wake up. Cherish those you love, they can be gone in a moment. Most of all forgive. As Shakespeare wrote, “mercy is twiced blessed, it blesses those that give and those that receive, It is mightiest in the mighty, it becomes the throned monarch better than his sceptered sway…so I beg you, have mercy…”

    Remember, no matter how much someone offends you or hurts you, the pain of our Lord in the Garden and on the Cross greatly exceeds that. In the depth of his pain He was able to cry out, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Can we do any less?

    The men and women who make the political decisions and guide the culture are not demons. The only demons are in our own hearts if we live in judgement and forgive not. If we learn and practice that same forgiveness, we will be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect then will order and harmony be restored in His creation. Then will be have taken up the stewardship He gives us to dress and keep the earth. All else is vanity.

    Only from the humility of forgiveness can we actually witness to the world the truth so that the lies will be revealed. Then will the light shine into the darkness and prevail.

    Lent is upon us. Forgive, that you might be forgiven. Forgive, that you might receive the free gift of love and peace gained for us by our Lord on the Cross. Forgive that you might rise with Him on Pascha into that new life only He can promise and only He can give.

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