WASHINGTON (RNS) A coalition of liberal Christian leaders blasted a GOP budget plan that would extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy while slashing key provisions for the poor.
The bill, which is being used by both parties as part of election-year jockeying, would slash the Earned Income Tax Credit, which supplements wages of low-income workers, and the Child Tax Credit, which provides up to $1,000 financial support per child for poor working families.
At the same time, the bill would extend Bush-era tax cuts for the highest income earners: individuals earning over $200,000 a year and families earning over $250,000.
The tax cuts, which were renewed two years ago on a temporary basis, are set to expire at year's end.
In a letter delivered to Capitol Hill on Wednesday (Aug. 1), 60 faith leaders urged Congress "to put families and workers before ideological agendas that favor the powerful."
"To roll back tax credits for the poor to help fund tax breaks for the rich is simply morally reprehensible," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, president and CEO of the social justice organization Sojourners, who called the federal budget a "moral document" that should transcend party politics.
The Rev. David Beckmann, president of the ecumenical hunger group Bread for the World, said letting tax benefits expire for the highest earners would create $830 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. This money, he said, could be spent on helping those who struggle with poverty.
Beckmann added many working families rely on tax credits for necessities like food and shelter.
"The food budget is usually the first thing families cut when times get tough, but tax credits like the EITC and CTC help struggling families put food on the table and make ends meet," he said.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has also urged Congress to extend tax credits for the poor.
The Senate narrowly passed a Democratic bill last week that would let expire tax cuts for families making $250,000 and over, or individuals making $200,000 and over, while extending breaks for middle-class taxpayers.
If the House bill passes its bill, as expected, a committee of party leaders will meet to work out differences between the House and Senate bills.
What did Jesus say about the poor?
Luke 6:20-21 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 'Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. 'Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Luke 4:16-19 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.'
Matthew 25:34-36 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."
Mark 10:21-22 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Mark 12:41-44 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."
Luke 14:12-14 He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Luke 16:19-25 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.
Luke 11:39-42 Then the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God
Luke 12:16-21 Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."