U.S. bishops’ policy chair calls Senate tax bill ‘fundamentally flawed’

 (CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development likes some of the provisions of the Senate's tax bill, but those likes are dwarfed by items that he said run afoul of Catholic teaching.

“The Senate proposal is fundamentally flawed as written and requires amendment,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., in a Nov. 22 letter addressed to senators, who are expected to take up consideration of the bill after they return from Thanksgiving recess.

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Bishop Dewane cited St. John XXIII’s encyclical “Mater et Magistra,” which said that “decisions about taxation involve fundamental concerns of ‘justice and equity,’” and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which said public spending should serve as “an instrument of development and solidarity.”

“The Senate proposal is fundamentally flawed as written and requires amendment,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane in a Nov. 22 letter to senators.

And that is where the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as the bill is called, falls short. The bill, “as written, will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy,” Bishop Dewane said. “Tax breaks for the financially secure, including millionaires and billionaires, should not be made possible by increased taxes to families struggling to meet their daily needs.”

Among the many shortcomings Bishop Dewane highlighted for senators in his letter:

-- “The bill eliminates multiple deductions for work expenses, such as deductions for union dues and expenses, work clothes and uniforms, and work-related education,” he said.

-- With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate in the bill, “tax reform should not become the vehicle for a partial health care reform that fails to address significant problems in our health care system while exacerbating other difficulties,” Bishop Dewane said.

-- “This bill appears to make families that have several children worse off. One of the most significant problems for larger families is the elimination of the personal exemption,” he added. “A change in the tax code should not place families in a worse situation because they have welcomed the gift of life.”

-- The Senate bill, like the House version passed earlier in November, “creates stricter rules around children’s Social Security numbers for the child tax credit, making it unjustly difficult for immigrant taxpayers to receive the benefit,” he noted.

The bill “raises taxes on the working poor, while simultaneously providing large tax breaks to high-income taxpayers,” Bishop Dewane said. “In the years that the working poor suffer a tax increase under this bill, millionaires and billionaires will see significant tax decreases. This must change.”

“This tax plan, by design, will result in a nearly $1.5 trillion deficit over 10 years. Even with the potential benefits of economic growth from individual and corporate tax cuts—which cannot be guaranteed—the poor should not be the ones to finance these changes,” he added. “The bill should be fixed so that the risks taken fall on those who stand to benefit most, rather than on those who struggle on the margins of society.”

One principle Bishop Dewane wants the bill to follow: “The tax code should encourage voluntary association, mutual aid and a culture of giving, helping rather than hurting groups that will be asked to do more for the poor in the days ahead.”

There were some items Bishop Dewane liked in the bill. “The above-the-line deduction for educator expenses was expanded from $250 to $500, and this is a praiseworthy change,” he said.

“The Senate bill avoids some of the pitfalls of the House bill by not tampering with the adoption tax credit or the exclusion for employer adoption assistance programs, and by retaining the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction, which is a lifeline for families facing serious and chronic illnesses,” Bishop Dewane added.

Still other provisions brought mixed reviews.

“It is laudable that, like the House bill, this tax plan recognizes the child in utero by allowing contributions to a 529 savings plan before birth,” Bishop Dewane said, but that the provision sunsets in 2025 and “unlike the House bill,” it also “does not allow a 529 plan to go toward tuition payments for K-12 education.”

“It is also encouraging to see tax incentives for employers to provide paid family and medical leave, but this provision is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2019,” he added.

“Doubling the standard deduction will bring tax relief to many people, and this is a good feature,” Bishop Dewane said. “However, for those who give to charity, it will make the charitable deduction increasingly a benefit only available to high income families.”

He added he liked that the Senate bill “retains the Housing Credit and Housing Bonds that go toward the development of low-income housing, and takes some additional laudable measures to strengthen them, the credit will still be significantly devalued due to the lower corporate tax rate, and without further enhancement, development of low-income housing will likely be stifled.”

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J Cosgrove
3 weeks ago

The Democrats reflexively claim that any Republican tax plan is a tax break for the rich. It is interesting how the Republicans always help the Democrat voters. Most rich people in the US vote for Democrats. Hillary won the high income areas by an almost 2 to 1 margin. So is this another tax bill that will help the Democratic voters? Or is it one meant to promote economic growth?

By the way I personally will pay more taxes since I live in suburban New York City and will see many of my tax deductions disappear. We have extremely high property taxes.

Dionys Murphy
3 weeks ago

"The Democrats reflexively claim that any Republican tax plan is a tax break for the rich." - Because it is. All examinations of who it benefits the most show this, as do examinations of how it hurts the middle and lower class. Denying this shows either willful ignorance or plain and simple ignorance.

"It is interesting how the Republicans always help the Democrat voters. " - I think you're mistaken. You're likely thinking of how Democratic states pay for welfare for primarily Red states.

"Hillary won the high income areas by an almost 2 to 1 margin" - Correlation is not causation. Educated people make more money. What tRump won was the votes of the poorly educated and the ignorant who could be easily tricked by fancy slogans empty of substance. The temporarily embarrassed millionaires of the country vote for their imaginary best interests.

"So is this another tax bill that will help the Democratic voters? Or is it one meant to promote economic growth?" - Neither. Economic experts say it will do Zero to promote economic growth and simply reward the already ridiculously wealthy. And the majority of democratic voters, like the majority of Repugnant Con voters, are poor and middle class people.

"By the way I personally will pay more taxes since I live in suburban New York City and will see many of my tax deductions disappear." - Pretty much everyone but the wealthy will personally pay more taxes. Stop whining when you support the Repugnant Cons who are pushing this abomination through congress and are willing to do so by supporting a pedophile.

J Cosgrove
3 weeks ago

If you are going to object be specific and cite your sources for what you claim.

You tend to throw around ad hominems which means your arguments are weak or non-existent.

But I am always glad to hear from someone who claims to be superior.

J Cosgrove
3 weeks ago

Duplicate

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 weeks 6 days ago

Dionys
Your last screed on this topic relied on the Tax Policy Institute analysis which was produced more than 4 weeks before there even was a Senate Tax bill!
This time you rely on a Bishop for economic analysis and unnamed "economic experts". And at another location you rely on/refer to that generic authority..."All examinations...show".....
For his part the Bishop relies on the use of tax policy to accomplish John XXlll Catholic Social Justice purposes. Like your own argument the Bishop seems to have no named Economists on whom he relies to demonstrate the feasibility of this approach.
Your use of the phrase "Repugnant Con Voters" demonstrates a mind that could not be convinced by overwhelming economic evidence. You have a position and you are entitled to your position, unsubstantiated by economic analysis as it may be. But please do not claim the cloak of economic analysis for what you have demonstrated by your language is just a political diatribe.

Jim Lein
2 weeks 6 days ago

The GOP would prefer--and will likely try--to pass their tax bill without the Tax Policy Institute analysis. They don't want us common folk to get a good look at it. We should just trust them. And their bill is largely a plan to cut benefits for the poor and needy. Tax reform is just a cover for doing far less of what Jesus asked of his followers: pooling their resources to help the poor and needy, if necessary selling their homes to do so. In a large society the main way of following Jesus' words is to pool our resources through taxes. Private charity is also a way, of course, but it falls very short. Ninety-five percent of food for the poor, for example, comes from government programs like WIC, SNAP and TANF.

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 weeks 6 days ago

Jim
The Tax Policy Institute/Center is a theoretically independent group.....they do not have to wait for a request from Congress to analyze any bill.....they act on their own initiative.
The so called "increases" in the taxes on various groups arise as the Bishop noted because the "cuts" they initially receive expire by their terms after 10 years. That 10 year expiration is a result of Senate Rules ...one known as the Byrd Rule....which limit what can be done through the arcane Budget Reconciliation Process. This same process was used in part to pass Obamacare. The concerns expressed by the good Bishop will only occur if in 10 years a subsequent Congress fail to renew these cuts.
You believe that tax policy and government expenditures should follow the principles of Catholic Social Justice Principles, but you ignore the fact that we are constitutionally a secular society. The pooling of resources you suggest is a socialist utopian ideal which has historically proven itself time and again to not only fail to meet its purposes but to actually cause more harm than good. You need only to look at current day Venezuela to see the result of such pooling of resources by the government. In a mere 15 years Venezuela has gone from being the richest country in South America with the fewest poor to a country where there is no food for most of the population.

Jim Lein
2 weeks 5 days ago

A few scribbled thoughts.
Look at the Scandinavian countries where what you pejoratively label as "socialist utopian" has worked.
Also look at the last times we tried the trickle down approach. It has never worked.
There is no way a very capitalistic country can work when it comes to people. Who can afford to live even a modest life in retirement and failing health? Very few in our society.
The pooling of resources is what Jesus and his followers suggested. This shouldn't be even tried? We should instead leave it up to the almighty market? And we should ignore the numerous places in the bible where it says the love of money is the root of all evil?
People in Scandinavia--and some university professors here who do their job, maybe invent something they could market but instead keep doing what they love and are good at--live the good life, not chasing after money. We should instead chase after money and the heck with others, with society as a whole?
More than enough scribbled thoughts. Sorry. I got going. Again.

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 weeks 5 days ago

Jim
Denmark got sick of Bernie Sanders references to it as a successful socialist economy.
Prime Minister Rasmussen speaking at Harvard issued a statement saying "we are not a socialist economy ...we are a successful free market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish. The Nordic Model is an expanded welfare state"
Contrary to your assertion I could not have pejoratively labeled Scandinavian countries as "socialist utopias" because they are Not socialist countries.
Their "welfare state " works because they each consist of a small homogeneous population( Denmark total population is about half of New York City!) with historically shared values. The average total tax rate in these countries including VAT amounts to almost 70%! But even Sweden has had to cut back in its benefits in recent years as it discovers that such benefits are unsustainable in the long run..
The chances of such a system being accepted in the United States are zero!
As to your sweeping statement that capitalism can never work for people I suggest you read the Arthur Brooks essay in America Magazine entitled "Confession of a Catholic Convert to Capitalism" and see the Economist Magazine , June 1 2013, "Towards the End of Poverty" which state unequivocally that the tenets of capitalism has lifted over one billion people out of poverty over the previous 20 years.......an accomplishment theretofore unseen in human history!

Chuck Kotlarz
2 weeks 4 days ago

Stuart, the non-homogeneous population of the five largest U.S. cities totals six percent of the U.S. population, but contributes twenty percent of U.S. GDP. Percentages on those born outside the U.S. are, Los Angeles, about 33%; New York, 28%; Houston, 22%; Chicago, 17% and Philadelphia, 10%.

J Cosgrove
2 weeks 5 days ago

The so called Scandinavian models are flawed because their success has come about because they are very small homogeneous countries. Their economies are based on the free market and what is called the Nordic model. This is a system of distributing social benefits and nothing close to a socialism model or non market economy. It does require high taxes. They are now having major problems as they cannot assimilate their non-Scandinavian immigrants and it is a real question whether their benefits model can survive.

Norway has about a half million dollars per person set aside from their oil revenues (roughly $300 billion.) This means generous social benefits are at little cost. Something few other countries can do. Also Norway has almost free electricity. Their mountainous country has almost unlimited hydro-electric power for a country of 5 million people.

Finland has had harder times since Nokia has collapsed but is market based. Read the Wikipedia article on the Finnish economy.

Sweden became an economic success story based on free market capitalism and still is based on the free market model. What people confuse is the high taxes and social benefits that is present in Sweden with an economy that is based on socialism. Nearly all resources and companies are in private hands so the economy is not a form of socialism. For such a system to work it requires a very homogeneous population with similar beliefs. That is disappearing.

Sweden has become the rape capital of Europe as young women increasingly fear for their physical safety on the streets. Reported sex crimes increased by 61 percent between 2007 and 2016. The number of meninjured by gunshots increased by 50 percent between 2004 and 2016. This is what happens when a society tries to go multi-cultural and cannot assimilate people.

Nowhere in the world has a non market economy been successful. Without the information about prices from markets which tells how much of a product to produce and the freedom of the people to choose products/suppliers, chaos will result. Governments then have to resort to oppression to make their non-market system work as oversupplies of some goods and shortages of others will inevitably result.

An economics professor once said to our class, socialism can only work as far as the eye can see since it requires uniformity in beliefs and peer pressure not to cheat. All of which was to some degree present in the very homogeneous countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway and is now disappearing. But they weren't socialist, just generous in their benefit system that requires self-policing to work. This high social benefits model of Sweden and Denmark depends on the willingness to be taxed at high levels. As soon as they see that they are not getting a commensurate return for this tax, they will demand changes.

As far as what Jesus would do, it is very unclear if He recommend any economic system. Just a week ago Jesus in the parable of the Talents was very much in favor of a venture capital system. A talent was the equivalent of a couple million dollars. Interesting that Jesus was also in favor of a system of getting interest on loans so where did the Church's position on usery come from?

Jim Lein
2 weeks 4 days ago

It is clear what Jesus would do. Some business people are already doing it--and some business schools are teaching it. The December issue of Sojourners magazine covers examples of Christian business, where stockholders are no longer the most influential group; stakeholders are. "A stakeholder is anyone who has a stake. An employee has a stake. The customer has a stake. The supplier has a stake. The local economy has a stake. The government has a stake. And, yes, the stockholder has a stake." Stockholder dominance stems largely from Milton Friedman in the 1970s, and it was helped into prominence when money became speech and corporations became persons. It doesn't take a Christian perspective to see this system is obviously flawed and in need of modification, such as infusion of a Christ-following perspective. Certainly Catholics shouldn't object to such modification.
This is from the article, "How to Succeed in Business," pp. 26-29 of the December issue. https://sojo.net/print/224100

Lisa Weber
2 weeks 6 days ago

I am glad to have the bishops speaking out against this tax bill that does not even attempt to cover up the fact that it takes from the poor to give to the rich. In addition to increasing the tax burden on the poor and middle class while increasing the deficit, it also hopes to take healthcare coverage away from millions. The people in Congress who are supporting this bill are criminal in their neglect of the common good.

Chuck Kotlarz
2 weeks 4 days ago

My comments below refer to Mr. Meisenzahl’s post in America’s November 27 article “ “Two good things trapped in a bad Republican tax bill”

Stuart noted, “…how are you going to get more this year from1%ers…”

Stuart, the .01%ers should have a 91% tax rate. A 91% tax rate stinks, but it’s either that or multimillion dollar campaign contributions from those with $250 million incomes. There is no popular representation in a congress preoccupied with its “moral obligation” to respond to the interests of the donor class.

“…Social Security shortfall will only worsen if 1%ers don't create profitable businesses.”

Despite a dozen tax cuts since 1981, new business creation has failed. The number of publicly listed companies trading on U.S exchanges is more than 1,000 lower than in 1975.

“Your statistics about the evils of buy backs are bogus......even liberal Warren Buffet defends them.”

ABC company hasn’t made its widget better, it hasn’t come out with a new widget, it hasn’t sold more widgets, it hasn’t gained market share, it hasn’t cut costs, it’s not a takeover target, it’s not planning an acquisition, but its stock price went up from stock buybacks. That looks like a form of stock price manipulation, which prior to 1982 was deemed illegal.

“The rising inequality in the United States is primarily based on… quantitative easing which added…about $3.5 Trillion which had to find an investment home ....which was/ is the stock market.”

The income share of 95% of Americans bottomed out at 63% in 2007 down from 79% in 1980. Inequality growth paused during Obama’s presidency, but appears destined to resume once Trump’s tax cut goes into effect.

“…no one thinks increasing taxes are pro growth enablers!”

The main roadblock between America and exceptionalism is congress’ moral obligation to the interests of the .01%ers and their 10,000 corporate lobbyists. The .01%ers have nothing to gain and everything to lose from American exceptionalism. Raise the corporate tax rate on any business failing to pay a living wage to full time employees.

“Your conjecture as to the "$billion tax benefit to the Trump Family…”

Conjecture is entirely up to Trump. He could release his tax returns unless perhaps he’s trying to hide something.

Jim Lein
2 weeks 4 days ago

For 19 out of 20 years from the early 1940s to the early 1960s we taxed the top bracket at 90 percent or more (as high as 94 %); one year it dipped into the 80s. And look what we did. Invested in the GI Bill which essentially built the middle class we are now losing, built the freeways and other infrastructure we can't maintain, and paid off much of the war expenses. Now we can do diddly-squat. We keep fighting questionable wars without paying off war debts.

Chuck Kotlarz
2 weeks 3 days ago

Jim, America put a man on the moon in the 60’s, but since 1980, it’s mostly put billionaires on a yacht. Tax cuts for the .01% stopped “One Giant Leap for Mankind” dead in its tracks and began the quest for what the goose left behind, which since 1980, hasn’t lead to the golden egg.

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 weeks 4 days ago

Chuck
More nonsense statistics unmoored from any causal relationship.
Then you compound the problem by a series of tax suggestions that not even Bernie Sanders would propose.
Assuming these suggestions of yours had/have merit and support, then why didn't President Obama institute them by simply amending the tax code while he had fillibuster proof control of the House and Senate? Instead in 2013, 82% of the then expiring Bush tax cuts were renewed and left in place.
Once again you totally ignore the issue of spending......you do not propose a single idea on limiting the growth of spending!
Failure to address spending is the death knell for any budget based on tax revenues.
The level of the Federal Government's unfunded liabilities combined with the National Debt are so huge ( about $184 Trillion) that they can only be dealt with by growth and restraint on spending . As pointed out to you earlier If you confiscated 100% of the wealth of all 1%ers ($10.5 Trillion) you would only be able to pay off 1/2 of just the $20Trillion National Debt AND you would have to forego getting any future taxes from these 1%ers in as much as they would have lost their source of income ! That would be a loss of over 40% of current annual tax revenue! Congratulations you will have killed the goose on whom you have relied to assure that 50% of the American public would pay no taxes

Chuck Kotlarz
2 weeks 3 days ago

Stuart, the golden goose story perhaps has merit.

Golden eggs clearly have gone to election campaigns of candidates deemed to recognize a moral obligation to the goose.

That the income share of 95% of Americans fell from 79% in 1980 to 63% in 2007 stinks. The goose left something behind all right, just not a golden egg.

A goose in charge of the country strikes me as an abuse of power. The constitution refers to senators and representatives but how is the golden egg thing supposed to work? Is government doing the bidding of the people or that of the golden goose?

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 weeks 2 days ago

Chuck
Still not a word from you about controlling spending .....just deflection
I can't resist commenting on your above statement that past "tax cuts have put billionaires on yachts". :
In 1992 Senators Kennedy and Majority Leader George Mitchell crowed that their new 10% luxury tax on boats , planes and jewelry "would finally make the rich pay their fair share" By the time that tax was repealed in 1993 the American boat building business had totally collapsed:
1)100,000 workers in the yacht and yacht supply business had permanently lost their jobs.
2)The value of those lost jobs was $156,000,000 in just the first six months of this tax
3) there was a net revenue tax loss of $7.5 million rather than the originalprojected gain of $31 million
4) about 350'jobs were lost in the jewelry business
5) about 1500 jobs were lost in the aircraft industry.
The U.S. Ceased to be a net exporter of yachts and became a permanent net importer....(remember John Kerry's boat that he kept in New Port to avoid $500,000 in Massachusetts taxes- it was made in New Zealand!)

This also a perfect example of your assuming that "the geese" will stand just still while you pluck them to death ......In 1992 they flew away and bought their yachts abroad and (like Kerry ) they brought them back to US ports which didn't impose use taxes!
Try your 90% + income tax on the 1% ers and you will find yourself with a net loss in tax income as the 1%ersmove out of the country. France tried just a 77% tax on high income residents and was forced to repeal it as citizens simply moved over the border- -a net tax loss for France!

Chuck Kotlarz
2 weeks ago

Stuart, twelve tax cuts have occurred since 1979, in every category, individual, capital gains, estate and corporate. The income share of 95% of Americans fell from 79% in 1980 to 63% in 2007. Fifty percent more filers were required to keep the 63% figure that high.

Why would Trump’s tax cut impact 95% of America any differently from twelve other tax cuts since 1979?

Take the last two changes to the capital gains tax rate as an example. A low capital gains rate (15% from the Bush tax cuts) left us the worst economic contraction since 1929. A higher capital gains rate (23.8% from Obama’s 2013 tax increase) has us in the third-longest economic expansion since 1854.

Apply higher taxes to the .01% ($25 million average income) and not the rest of the 1% ($½ million average income). Capisce?

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 weeks ago

Chuck
You constantly shift around your definitions of 1%ers and when pressed jump back to "the top 400 "
Because you will not address spending in conjunction with tax revenues you constantly cite statistics that are unmoored from reality ....no one can trace the effect of taxes (increases or decreases) without looking at spending. Right now the forward projection of the CBO is that if spending increases that are already built in to the budget and no change in taxes take place , then in 10 years the National Debt will increase by $9Trillion! Note that is with no change in taxes. If you were to Institute your proposed increases in taxes while maintaining spending you would not even reduce that increase by even a $500 Million.
So for that reduction you would gamble on large number of current and future entrepreneurs taking their current and future businesses offshore. Check out what happened when France tried a 77% tax rate....they lost revenue!if you think it couldn't happen here, then check out the effect of the 1992 Luxury Tax referenced in my above comment.
The incessant emphasis on solving problems by taxing the so called rich has made the U.S. extraordinarily dependent on the future success of the rich ( the top 1%ers now account for almost 50% of tax revenues!). You now propose to increase our dependency by relying even more on taxing them. My example of the short lived and dramatic failure of the "1992 Luxury Tax on Yachts , planes and Jewelry" represents a short term controlled 'experiment' which not only failed to generate any tax revenue,it was a net revenue loss with catastrophic impact on well over 100,000 American workers who permanently list their jobs.
You keep ignoring the fact that the U.S. is now in a $20 Trillion hole with an assured additional $9Trillion (CBO) which it is impossible to solve by taxing the rich (their total assets if completely seized would only eliminate $10 Trillionof current Debt). It is impossible to solve this problem with just more taxes. We either try to grow our way out of this problem AND control spending or we are economically doomed.. if you want to try more taxes, then at least propose spending cuts because the debt will otherwise continue to grow. If you want to avoid cutting social welfare spending etc , then you had better look to something that generates growth and simultaneously eliminate spending increases built into the budget.

Finally you persist in dumping piles of statistics on the table, utterly stripped of the myriad facts and circumstances that generated them. Even assuming that your statistics are correct, they still represent at best simple correlation and not causation . Your endless repetition and recycling of these same statistics cannot AND does not turn such correlation into causation.

Chuck Kotlarz
1 week 6 days ago

Stuart, increasing taxes on the .01% makes sense. A $400,000 law firm partner salary (1%er) falls about $250 million short of the income of the rich. Capisce?

How about a luxury tax on golden eggs. Congressional members with a moral obligation to the golden egg would lose their jobs. Congressional members working for voters could get back to work.

I have asked how Trump’s tax cut differs from the other twelve tax cuts where 95% of Americans saw their income share fall from 79% in 1980 to 63% in 2007.

I can only conclude Trump’s tax cut will continue a long trend and further erode the income share of 95% of Americans as you have presented nothing to the contrary.

J Cosgrove
1 week 6 days ago

further erode the income share of 95% of Americans as you have presented nothing to the contrary

Why is income share important and not absolute level of consumption by the various income levels? There is no evidence that increased wealth in the top 5% is anyway the result of the bottom 95% losing anything. In fact it is just the opposite.

Is it jealousy that you are trying to eliminate? You seem to be obsessed with this as opposed to some actual harm happening? Could it be if you were able to achieve the less disparity between income groups that you want that the results would be negative. Would the bottom 95% actually be harmed much more than the top 5% because they would be forced to consume at lower level? Is one or the results of so called fairness, harm to all?

You seem to be portraying the very rich as Scrooge McDucks just sitting in their vaults playing with their money denying the poor access to it. When in actuality most of these people use their money in ways that provide good jobs for others. Take the yacht discussion above as just one small way that the rich provide jobs for others. The most frequent way the money gets distributed is through investments which generally end up providing jobs for others.

Most of the wealth of the last three decades has resulted from increase in stock prices not in any power over people as was present when land owners controlled economies and had indentured servants/serfs/slaves working for them. These were times when the actual ability to eat was dependent on their masters. Nothing like that exist today in the United States.

As of yesterday, the Dow Jones closed 24 times higher than in 1980. But inflation has only increase prices 3 times higher since 1980. That fact alone explains the incredible increase in wealth by those who generated new enterprises. They did not do it by taking from others.

As an example, the two richest people in the world are so because of the stock owned in Amazon by Jeff Bezos and Microsoft by Bill Gates not by any resources they control. If anything these people have created incredible wealth for millions of others.

In addition to the jobs Bezos has created, people have access to much cheaper products because of technology and companies like Amazon. Don't you look around you and see this wealth being shared by everyone? In 1980, a 19 inch television set cost over $300 and weighed 40 pounds. Now a similar size high definition screen cost less than 1/3 and weighs 5 pounds and has hundreds more features.

One of the side effects of the digital age is the ability of some to have their expertise or demand for their products to be shared over the entire globe while others such as truck drivers, doctors, construction personnel, barbers, store clerks, landscap care etc. are limited by the very strict parameters of their profession that hasn't changed much in 50 years.

Another factor affecting the distribution of wealth is the 80 million immigrants who have come to the US in the last 50 years. Most are at the low end of the economic scale so this is affecting these percentages you constantly bring up.

Yesterday, I skyped with someone from Germany and we discussed how his new software could be promoted within the United States and Canada. Neither he or I will get anywhere close to rich but we will most likely have a little more income because of this digital expansion. Or it could fail in which case both of us will have lost a few thousand dollars. My guess is that we will both make a little but not much. Some other business might strike at rich and get thousands of customers through a similar agreement. Or they could do it on their own. Are you against the developer of "Angry Birds" getting rich?

You keep on presenting these irrelevant statistics like they mean something. Are people actually consuming less since all this disparity has been going on?

The answer is no!!!!!

J Cosgrove
1 week 5 days ago

Now that the Senate version has passed, will America trot out some bishops to condemn it?

They obviously cannot condemn it on hurting the poor since the poor do not pay any new taxes and low income workers get a very big standard deduction.

They can't condemn it on deficit reasons since whatever's short falls are small compared to the last administration which they did not object to.

So we will see what specifics they object to. Though Fr Martin has already tweeted that it is robbing the poor who do not pay any taxes.

Chuck Kotlarz
1 week ago

Mr. Cosgrove, the $250 million income households already have a $45 million pay raise. In anticipation of the corporate tax cut windfall, stocks have risen 18% YTD. The tax cut adds a trillion dollars to the national debt, an obligation for ninety-nine percent of Americans to deal with. That is no small task for ninety-five per cent of Americans who on average in 2007 had $10,000 less income share than in 1980.

The $45 million dollar pay raise sees a 23.8% capital gains tax rate and not the widely perceived 39.6% top tax rate. In the event of a death, the $45 million goes direct to the heirs, who won’t pay any tax at all if the estate tax is repealed.

At what point does this abuse of power stop?

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