In July, 1999 The House of Representatives narrowly passed a Republican tax cut bill which would cut personal income tax rates, reduce capital gains taxes, eliminate federal estate taxes on very large estates, increase the marital standard deduction and increase pension limits for taxpayers in the upper income brackets. Citizens for Tax Justice, a non-profit research and advocacy group focusing on federal state and local tax policy, estimates that the wealthiest 10% of taxpayers would receive 69% of the total tax benefits and almost 50% of the benefits would go to the top 1% of taxpayers.
WHEREAS Torah teaches us to "Open your hand to the poor and needy kinsman in your land" (Deut. 15:11); the Mishnah teaches that not only must each individual give tzedakah but the community as a whole is responsible for providing for the poor. The Talmud specifically lists health care, charity funds and child care as among the most critical community priorities (TB: Sanhedrin 17b); and
WHEREAS the bill passed by the House is funding tax cuts for the most affluent and at the same time cutting aid to the poor, thereby opening its hand to the wealthy and forsaking the poor in our land; and
WHEREAS these tax cuts will come at the expense of discretionary funding of Medicare, Medicaid, and programs which feed the hungry, house the homeless and educate children, since less revenue means less money available for these programs.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly strongly oppose the proposed tax cuts and calls upon the Congress of the United States to oppose tax reforms, tax cuts or changes in tax programs that would mainly benefit the wealthiest segments of our society; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly supports all efforts to give priority to vital human needs programs, such as those which promote housing, health and education in assessing Federal, state and local budget priorities.
Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, March, 2000