U.S. bishops weigh in on tax reform: Prioritize "the least of these"

U.S. bishops weigh in on tax reform: Prioritize “the least of these”

U.S. bishops weigh in on tax reform: Prioritize “the least of these”

For the Poor Charity Box Basilica of St. Adelbert Grand Rapids December 29, 2010. (Credit: Steven Depolo via Flickr.)

On Wednesday, the head of the USCCB's committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development sent a letter to all members of congress urging that they prioritize protecting the poor and the family as they consider legislation to reform the country's tax system. Republican leadership is hoping to pass tax reform on an ambitious timeline, before congress breaks for Thanksgiving.

NEW YORK — In the midst of President Donald Trump’s efforts to pass nationwide tax reform legislation, the United States Conference of Bishops (USCCB) has sent a letter to members of congress reminding them of “the critical obligation of creating a just framework aimed at the economic security of all people, especially the least of these.”

The letter was sent on Wednesday by Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The letter outlined six areas of moral principles that the bishops said should shape Congressional priorities: Care for the poor, the strengthening of families, maintaining progressivity of the tax code, raising adequate revenue for the common good, avoiding cuts to poverty programs to finance tax reform, and incentivizing charitable giving and development.

Citing Pope Francis, the letter said “those services which society offers its citizens are not a type of alms, but rather a genuine ‘social debt’ with respect to the institution of the family, which is foundational and which contributes to the common good.”

The letter also included a sharp critique of recent legislative proposals that would cut taxes but diminish the country’s social services.

“Recent proposals by leaders in Washington indicate an openness toward steep cuts to the social safety net and discretionary programs that serve those in poverty,” wrote Dewane.

On Tuesday, Trump met with members of the United States Senate at their weekly luncheon to discuss how to best proceed forward with their legislative plans. The chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, Representative Kevin Brady, has said he plans to introduce a bill next week that will enter into the mark-up process.

Last Thursday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan delivered the keynote address at the annual Al Smith dinner in New York, one of the Catholic Church’s most prominent fundraising events for its social services programming.

While Ryan did not specifically mention tax reform, he did invoke the principles of Catholic social teaching and its necessary guidance for fighting poverty.

“We can achieve so much, and we can achieve so much when we tackle poverty eye to eye, soul to soul, person to person. As Catholics, we call this solidarity and subsidiarity,” said Ryan.

Republican leaders are hoping that a tax reform can be passed and signed into law before congress breaks for Thanksgiving.

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