Updated as of 2017-12-11
URGENT ACTION: Call and email your Senators and Representative to urge them to oppose the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that increases economic inequity. Click here for UUSJ’s sample message and talking points. In our visits to Capitol Hill offices, we’re being told that members of Congress are not hearing from constituents. Express your concerns today! The House and Senate are engaged in reconciling their versions of the bill and plan to vote no later than December 22.
Urgent: Call and email your members of Congress
Call your Senator or Representative by using the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is fundamentally flawed in many ways and can’t be fixed. Two little-known provisions you need to know and tell members of Congress about are the repeal of the Johnson Amendment on separation of church and politics, and codification of full personhood to begin at conception. Read more in the “What you should know” section below.
President Trump and Congressional leaders call the plan “tax reform.” In reality, the House and Senate tax plans would have a devastating impact on the federal budget, resources for federal programs and priorities, and further exacerbate America’s income inequality. They would require steep cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The Senate Plan would gut the Affordable Care Act by repealing the individual mandate, causing 12 million Americans to lose healthcare coverage.
Page Contents (click on a title to go to that section):
Action Needed NOW: What You Can Do
1 – Contact both of your Senators and Representative
Use this UUSJ Write Here! Write Now! background information and sample letter to guide your advocacy message. Suggested message by phone or email:
Hi, my name is [your name] I’m a constituent from [city, state].
I am a Unitarian Universalist from [name of congregation and location]. My faith guides me to strongly oppose the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act because it increases economic inequity and calls for the partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act which will hurt the most vulnerable.
Paying for large and permanent tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy by taking away healthcare from millions of Americans, eliminating social programs, and raising taxes for middle-class and low-income people and families is not moral. It worsens the growing wealth divide.
I urge [Senator XX /Representative XX] to speak up and actively support protections for the most vulnerable.
Tell [senator/ representative] to say “no” to any bill that: [include additional points that speak to you, such as –
– undermines the Affordable Care Act, causing millions to lose their health insurance in order to pay for corporate tax cuts.
– repeals the Johnson Amendment, threatening the integrity of our elections and destroying the separation of church and state.
– establishes a legal basis for full personhood to begin at conception by allowing 529 college savings accounts to begin at conception rather than at birth.]
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is bad for our state and bad for our country. It is important to me that the [Senator/Representative] vote against it for the sake of all Americans, our economy and our country.
Sen. Mark Warner (202) 224-2023
Sen. Tim Kaine (202) 224-4024
Sen. Ben Cardin (202) 224-4524
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (202) 224-4654
U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or use our partner, NETWORK’s, toll free hotline to the Senate, which they provided for a previous action (ignore the message) 1-888-738-3058
To find e-mail addresses and other contact information for your members of Congress, visit these Congressional websites:
2 – Write and send us your personal letter.
UUSJ’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Corps will hand-deliver your letters to members of Congress in their Washington offices. Click here for the printable UUSJ Write Here! Write Now! sample message and talking points. Keep sending letters until the tax bill is voted on. Let us know your plans for a Write Here! Write Now! letter-writing campaign at email@example.com.
3 – Ask your friends and family members to contact their Representatives and Senators, too.
Send them the link to this page – http://bit.ly/2jels7S
These Senators are particularly important:
4 – Spread the word – Post messages to social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Post links to this page – http://bit.ly/2jels7S
Hashtags – #Faith4TaxJustice, #TaxReform, #TaxPlan
What You Should Know
Two little-known provisions you should be aware of are:
- Repeal of the Johnson Amendment: In place since 1954, this amendment protects the integrity of tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose political candidates. A repeal would allow donors to use churches to support parties and candidates via tax-deductible donations, blurring the lines between religion and politics and costing the Treasury $2.1 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
- Allowing 529 college savings accounts to be opened at conception rather than at birth: This is an attempt to establish a legal basis for full personhood to begin at conception. This has no practical effect since benefactors can already open an account at any time in their own name and then change it to benefit the child; its only purpose is to try to restrict abortion rights.
A simpler and fairer tax system is something all Americans can support. But the House and Senate plans are a cynical attempt to disguise a huge giveaway to the 1% as genuine reform. They violate fundamental moral principles by giving more to the haves at the expense of the have-nots.
Polls show most Americans want the rich and big corporations to pay more in taxes, not less. They want stronger federal programs to help struggling, ordinary Americans with education, healthcare, infrastructure, and housing. America cannot afford this fake reform!
While the details keep changing, the broad outlines are clear.
They will lead to drastic cuts in healthcare and programs for poor people. To pay for lower taxes for the rich, the Republican budget calls for devastating long-term cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, housing, education, food assistance, transportation, and more. The Senate plan includes a sneak attack on the Affordable Care Act by eliminating the individual mandate, which would lead to 13 million Americans losing healthcare coverage.
The plans will worsen economic inequity. They give big cuts to the wealthy by eliminating or reducing the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax, and dropping corporate taxes from 35% to 20%. Many lower and middle income households will pay more in taxes once short-term subsidies expire.
They are based on a false and cynical economic argument. The ‘trickle-down’ theory that cutting taxes will lead to more jobs and economic growth is not supported by experience and is scorned by serious economists. American companies today are enjoying record profits and all-time highs in the stock market; they do not need tax cuts to spur investment.
They violate basic principles of democracy and good government. Like the disastrous attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Congressional supporters want to take advantage of arcane budget rules to try to ram through a half-baked plan with a minimum of deliberation and zero bipartisan support. For comparison, when Congress passed the widely-praised Tax Reform Act of 1986, it took 18 months, countless hearings, and was supported by both parties.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the Senate plan, released Sunday, November 26, finds the bill hurts low-income and poor people more than originally thought. The biggest cause is the reduction in government assistance for healthcare.
Under Senate rules, a “yes” vote on this tax bill is also a vote to automatically eliminate programs for the elderly, children, funding for historically black colleges and universities, environmental protection, farmers, crime victims and more.
The Senate is under strict “PAYGO“ rules to balance the tax cuts with automatic budget cuts to mandatory spending programs.
Our UU Spiritual Grounding
Economic Injustice, Poverty, and Racism – 2000 Statement of Conscience
Escalating Economic Inequity – 2017 Statement of Conscience
Challenging extreme inequity locally and globally is a moral imperative. As a pragmatic faith we are committed to working to change economic and social systems with a goal of equitable outcomes of life, dignity, and well-being experienced by all. The escalation of income and wealth inequity undergirds many injustices that our faith movement is committed to addressing, including: economic injustice, mass incarceration, migrant injustice, climate change, sexual and gender injustice, and attacks on voting rights.
Since the adoption of the 2000 Statement of Conscience on Economic Injustice, Poverty, and Racism, economic inequality has escalated. We have experienced accumulation of debt, decreased support for growth and innovation, and increased concentration of wealth accompanied by wage stagnation for most of our population. In 2013, the average income of the wealthiest 20% of those in the U.S. was 15 times greater than that of the poorest 20% ($202,600 vs $13,100). In 2011, the average net assets (wealth) of the wealthiest 20% exceeded $630,000, while the net assets of the poorest 20% were negative $6,000. Furthermore, racial and class disparities in income and wealth increased.
The growth of inequity does not happen by accident. It is a direct consequence of the decisions of those people who own and control the nation’s and world’s corporations and resources and their allies in government, who take for themselves the wealth created by the hands and minds of the many and the bounty of our fragile planet. Their actions and policies have led to the decline of labor unions, the increased cost of education and health care, and automation. Unlimited funding of campaigns by wealthy individuals and corporations, lack of access to conventional financial institutions, predatory lending, and flawed tax policies increase inequity and insecurity. In the political realm, corporate personhood and the focus on individualism (rather than the collective good) have also contributed to escalating inequity.
Resources and Relevant News Media Coverage Links
- CNNMoney – Key Differences Between the House and Senate Tax Bills
- Atlantic – Why the GOP tax bill is so unpopular. The more people learn about it, the less they like it.
- Tax Policy Center – If you care about Social Security and Medicare, you should care about these tax bills.
- Center for American Progress – Five reasons communities of faith should be alarmed about this tax bill
- Washington Post – Senate GOP Tax Bill Hurts the Poor More Than Originally Thought. CBO study shows cuts for poor and middle class eroded by rising health care costs.
- New York Times – The Senate’s Official Scorekeeper Says the Republican TaxPlan Would Add $1 Trillion to the Deficit
- Washington Post – The Finance 202: Wall Street to Washington: Tax cuts are ‘sugar high’ that don’t promote long-term growth
- TIME – We Worked on Tax Reform Under Reagan. The Republican Plan Is a Corporate Sellout (co-authors Lee Price and Steve Quick are Associate Fellows at the Institute for Policy Studies)
- Center for American Progress
- Americans for Tax Fairness
- “Tax Cuts for the Wealthy. Guess Who Picks Up the Tab?” – slides from November 6, 2017 webinar with William Rice, Policy Consultant, Americans for Tax Fairness
- Institute for Policy Studies – Trump’s Tax Plan Taunts the Dignity of Labor
- Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy –
- Friends Committee on National Legislation –
- National Women’s Law Center – The House GOP Tax Plan is a Raw Deal for Women and Families
- Tax Policy Center
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities