Whereas Jewish tradition has long taught that it is the community’s responsibility to provide for its poor, as Lev. 25:35 teaches, “If your brother, being in straits, comes under your authority, you shall strengthen him;”
Whereas Jewish communities always provided for their poor, as Maimonides teaches, “We have never seen nor heard of an Israelite community that does not have a charity fund;”
Whereas the number of people receiving welfare increased in more than ¾ of the states during the last quarter of 2002;
Whereas almost all 50 states are experiencing huge budget shortfalls, and have already cut services and raised taxes to close their $50 billion deficits in fiscal year 2003, with another $17 billion in gaps yet to be closed, with deficit estimates for the 2004 fiscal year as high as $60-85 billion;
Whereas, without a major infusion of federal funds, states will be forced to make cuts that will even further hurt the neediest and most dependent members of society, children and people with little or no income, in the form of additional cuts to quality child care and health benefits;
Whereas the centerpiece of the President’s stimulus package is the corporate dividend tax cut and acceleration of already passed individual tax cuts, nearly 60% of which will benefit the top 10% of taxpayers; and
Whereas despite the large and growing federal budget deficits, the President and many members of Congress are calling for permanent deep tax cuts, which will hurt social programs and will benefit the smallest percent of wealthy Americans.
Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly call on Congress and the President to provide financial support to the states to support their social welfare programs even if this means rolling back tax cuts to avoid deficits; and
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly call on Congress to defeat the Corporate Dividend Tax Credit and to roll back the tax cuts already passed to allow for much needed funds to be directed to immediate local needs for the poor which will also provide the best stimulus to the economy of the United States.
Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, April, 2003