Unconscionable” tax bill



So, who is for it?

I find it highly disturbing.


With yet another example of the USCCB involving itself in a hot political topic you have to seriously ask if this is what they think they were created to do.


You think they have no say in social justice?


What would a “good” tax bill look like?

Why is “progressive” better? Why should somebody who has put in effort in education, the work place, etc., be expected to pay a higher percentage in their income in taxes compared to somebody who dropped out of high school and elected to flip burgers for a living? Taxing success seems like a great way to kill it off.

Interesting that some of the bishops who signed off come from not so great areas where “social justice” seems to have not worked very well.


I think they have no background and no expertise on the implications of this or that proposed tax measure. Their position is purely political, and essentially no different than that of any other political lobbying organization.


Their position is common sense. Will you benefit after your cuts are phased out?


I don’t recall Jesus saying, or the Church teaching, that we should hurt the poor to favor the rich. If I’m wrong, I would be happy to be told where to find those teachings.


This is the real problem when bishops involve themselves in political issues: those who agree with their specific proposals don’t see those on the other side as being mistaken, but as being evil (selfish, greedy, unconcerned…choose your euphemism). A comment like yours implies the two sides are divided between those who want to help everyone, especially the poor, and those who are only looking after themselves. That perception completely eliminates even the possibility of a genuine conversation about the real economic outlook for this or that tax change.

The well is immediately poisoned, and the possibility of open debate is lost.


This is a very good point (and I am someone who is less than enthused with the proposed reform).


Doubling the income tax deduction for the poor is huge.

Cutting the state income tax loophole is hitting the middle and upper class, not the poor. If it’s hitting the poor then the state already has a very regressive income tax structure.

Whenever you cut loopholes, somebody was benefiting and they will complain. It’s hypocritical to be against loopholes and then whinge when they are cut. I guess taxes are good for everyone but thee?


That view of the “other side” can be arrived at and is arrived at frequently even when the bishops do not weigh in.

In this case, one can discard the “stamp of authority” from the letter and consider just the content - as if reading a news article, i.e.:

  • It removes the the adoption tax credit which provides important and life-affirming assistance for families to adopt children desperately in need of love and support. The plan also repeals the exclusion for adoption assistance programs, which allows a family to exclude money paid by an employer for adoption costs up to the amount of the adoption tax credit as an alternative. This exclusion also allows those who adopt a child with special needs to receive the full value of the exclusion regardless of actual adoption costs. Eliminating the credit and exclusion sends the wrong message about our national priorities, which ought to protect life, strengthen families, and affirm the value of every human being. The savings to society from children finding loving homes is well beyond any revenue lost due to the credit and exclusion.

  • It eliminates the personal exemption. Even with the doubling of the standard deduction, some larger families will pay more, including many two-parent families with more than three children, and single-parent families with more than one child. It is laudable that the child tax credit has been expanded and removes the marriage penalty. However, the modest increase in the credit does not fully compensate for the elimination of the personal exemption for some larger families. Moreover, because the child tax credit only remains refundable up to $1,000, lower income families will get no additional benefits from the child tax credit, while suffering the full loss of the personal exemption.

  • It eliminates the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction for families facing serious or chronic illness.

  • It eliminates tax incentives to employers to provide dependent care assistance or child care. The family flexibility credit, at $300 per taxpayer, is some help, but is set to expire after five years and does not offset the greater losses.

  • It eliminates the qualified tuition reduction for children of teachers, which will raise taxes on educational institutions and disrupt family arrangements

So forgetting where this information came from and avoiding the strange ad hominem attack of information from the bishops, just consider the factual aspects of these points and decide for yourself if this tax bill is a tax cut for the middle class, or a wealth redistribution from the lower class to the already-wealthy.


Not when coupled with the elimination of the personal exemption. Large families and many single-parent familes will pay more, not less. And the doubling of the standard deduction is for everyone - not just the poor.


So I was correct, the poor do get a doubling of their exemption.

Is your argument that large families shouldn’t pay any taxes, though they are a greater user of Govt services?


Lowering the tax rate to international levels and cutting loopholes is a reasonable strategy to increase the amount they actually pay, in the US.


No, my argument was that whatever this is, it should not be sold as a tax cut for them. It is a tax increase. I didn’t say it wasn’t a bad increase. I just think it is dishonest to say it is a tax cut for them when it isn’t. It is a tax shift. But I’ll tell you who is going to get a big cut - the rich.


From the USCCB letter: “The state has a legitimate role in promoting the common good, and a legitimate interest in collecting taxes to do so.”

True enough. But we have multiple levels of state – city, county, state and federal. The principle of subsidiarity directs us to promote the common good at the lowest level of state possible; the federal level being the level of last resort, not the first. The federal income tax code has become the tinker-toy for secular liberals in Washington to advance their agenda foisting liberal values on the entire country.

The USCCB letter uses the word “incentive” or it derivatives 7 times complaining that the elimination of particular federal tax incentives will work against the common good. That this effect may be true is only because lobbyists and the congressional members they court (seduce) carved out these incentives in the first place. Taxes that incentivize behavior go beyond the state’s legitimate purpose of “collecting taxes” and attempt to “socially engineer” behaviors. Do we want 535 puppet masters? If not, then cut the puppet strings. Eliminate all federal tax incentives, not just the ones that do not effect your tax bill.


This is very true, so it just makes things worse when the bishops reinforce this approach by doing it themselves.

This reads like any other special interest group pleading to retain deductions important to them. In that long litany however, there was nothing mentioning the overall impact of the entire bill. It is precisely this type of “cut somewhere else, just don’t cut me” approach which makes any progress so difficult. More specifically, it assumes that the overall harm the bishops assert will actually happen. Why is it assumed their understanding is accurate? It’s not clear that they’re not bemoaning the loss of money from their right pocket while ignoring the money being returned to their left.

My comments were neither ad hominem nor unusual. They point to the inevitable problem when the clergy interject their own personal opinions into political issues. Now, if their objections have merit then someone else can make them and that will allow their merit to be discussed, but because the bishops have made them they come with the aura of moral truth, and no merit discussion is possible.

This belief seems so far from reality I hardly know how to respond. I feel it would be like trying to convince someone who claims to have been abducted by aliens that his perceptions are inaccurate.


AFAIK, roughly 47% of the lowest income earners pay no federal income tax at all. From that baseline, it is difficult to see how the poor are hurt, unless the plan increases their taxes.


Its just another attempt at trickle down economics. It’s the Laugher or Laffer Curve rearing its head again. No one will ever know the right mix between taxing and spending. It’s stupid anyways to argue b/c any dollar of spend is a dollar of income for someone else (basic economics).

Repubs believe or think that reducing taxes rates will increase tax revenue. If they don’t believe it to be probable, then they shouldn’t vote for it.


What do you mean by “lowest”? Bottom 1%? 10%, 50%?

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