Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Paul Ryan's Budget: What Would Jesus Say?

Erika Christakis
August 14, 2012

Americans often tell pollsters they yearn for a return to the Christian principles on which the U.S. was founded. If so, they should take a closer look at the Mitt Romney–Paul Ryan ticket. Jesus’ teachings regarding wealth are nowhere to be found in Ryan’s budget proposal.

Ryan’s proposed tax cuts for the rich would be shouldered by the working and middle classes. According to Forbes magazine, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center calculated that those earning more than $1 million would get an average tax reduction of more than $250,000, while 50% of people earning $20,000-$30,000 per year would get nothing. Put another way, under Ryan’s proposed tax plan, the after-tax incomes of the rich would grow by 12%; those of the poor would increase by less than 1%.

But it gets worse. The estimated $4.6 trillion increase in the national deficit over the next 10 years as a result of these tax cuts will be absorbed by cuts to programs that provide economic opportunity to working poor and middle class, such as Medicare and Food Stamps. Some might argue that freeing our wealthiest taxpayers to keep more of their own money will allow them to care for the poor privately and in their own way. Indeed, we have a long tradition of private philanthropy in the U.S., and religiously affiliated people are known to be generous — albeit mainly to their own churches. But no amount of private giving can compensate for such a massive breakdown in the government infrastructure that gives needy people a helping hand. As Campbell has noted, the many people receiving food stamps are not lazy ingrates but full-time employees struggling to make a livable wage and nearly half of all recipients are children.

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