Religious Leaders Arrested For Protesting Republicans’ Tax Bill

In a new low, even in Trump’s America, a group of faith leaders representing every major religion showed up at the Senate to protest the Republican tax reform legislation and for all their godly effort they were detained, handcuffed, and arrested – while they were praying.

It isn’t often that organized religious leaders join forces in opposition to Republicans, but in another sign the GOP’s tax reform giveaway to corporations and the ultra-wealthy is highly unpopular, another group of “faith leaders” joined a chorus of criticism against the Republicans. One thing that is universal in the great majority of religions is the idea of protecting the poor and the vulnerable, it was a major theme of Jesus Christ’s teaching and something ‘religious” Republicans vehemently oppose as un-American.

On Thursday, a group “faith advocates” gathered to protest the GOP legislation at the Hart Senate building. The head of a Christian social justice group “Sojourners,” Jim Wallis was joined by Barbara Williams Skinner of the National African American Clergy Network and a large group of clergy to pray and condemn “unjust rulers” using religious ideology right from the scriptures. The theme of the criticism was that the “bill is an assault on the poor and vulnerable” the multi-denominational clergy “are sworn to protect.”

Mr. Wallis actually quoted a passage from the GOP’s favorite part of the Christian bible, the Old Testament, that fairly describes what Republicans are attempting to do to the American people who aren’t corporations or members of the one percent. Wallis recited Isaiah 10:1 saying:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”

Police waited until after several other members of the clergy spoke out against the tax bill and then “detained, handcuffed, and escorted them away while they prayed.”  So much for the GOP’s high regard for “religious freedom.”

The previous day a group of “more than 2,400 faith leaders” representing Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and many other “faith traditions” signed a letter to Republican leaders in the Senate slamming the bill as “unjust.” In fact, the “clergy” listed several issues they opposed with special emphasis on how it was created to “disproportionately benefit the wealthy,’ explode the deficit and increase the number of uninsured Americans by millions.” The letter read, in part:

As people of faith, we view decisions about tax policy and the federal budget as moral decisions. Simply put, this proposed legislation is fundamentally unjust. If it becomes law, it will result in harmful consequences for those most needing support so as to benefit high-income earners and big corporations.”

Several high-profile religious organizations, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and surprisingly, even the president of the National Association of Evangelicals joined the CEO of Catholic Charities USA and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to condemn the cruel bill. The National Council of Churches summed up briefly why a majority of Americans, whether they are religious or not, oppose the GOP’s tax reform bill:

The tax bills currently before the US Congress are designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer; and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt. These tax plans cannot be biblically defended.”

The tax bills cannot be “fiscally defended” either; but that isn’t stopping the Republican march towards transferring the treasury to corporations and the wealthy and burden the poor and middle class in the process. It is noteworthy to remind the clergy that their bible has no place in whether a tax plan can be defended; that theocratic remark ruined whatever positive “optics” the group hoped to shine on their worthy effort.

Now, although the faith leaders coming together to oppose this tax reform abomination is a kind gesture, as was the same group’s opposition to Trump’s immigration ban, repeal of DACA, and attempt at ending the Affordable Care Act, it is only a gesture and the religious leaders know it. The question a majority of those leaders have to answer before they will be taken seriously is why do they predominately support Republicans when they are well aware this particular “unjust” tax plan is the same as every other “unjust” Republican tax plan.

Without the reliable religious vote, Republicans would not control the House or the Senate or a growing majority of state legislatures. The only one reason the faithful support Republicans is because they pander to every faith and denomination that opposes women’s right to make their own reproductive choices. A fair number of the religious leaders condemning the Republican tax scam were also instrumental in aiding those same Republicans attack women’s rights over using birth control.

It is quite troublesome for a secular humanist to give much credence to some of these religious leaders because most of them know their efforts helped give Republicans control of Congress; all in a religious crusade to control women because doing so is “biblically defensible.” However, it is refreshing  to see Republicans being assailed by their staunchest supporters for a change; not that it matters to Republicans who no doubt had some input in having the protestors arrested while they were praying for the wrong issue.

Trump-Republican Tax Scam Insults Americans’ Intelligence

When Trump and Republicans announced they concocted a “unified framework for fixing our broken tax system,” they counted on a memory challenged and flagrantly stupid population to fall for their tired old tax reform “scam.” The scam where Republicans promise that giving the richest Americans and corporations more tax cuts will automatically make the poor and middle class rich, eliminate the deficit, and America will be great again. It is the “trickle down” scam that Americans were duped into accepting twice before only to suffer its effects for a couple of decades.

Republicans assume that all Americans are as stupid as their base, because they are proposing a worse rash of tax reform than Bush-Republicans enacted and pledge the results will not be disproportionately much worse. It is bizarre that they are once again proposing to grossly cut revenue to run the government while claiming it will increase government revenue and not blow up the deficit. And no, the Republicans cannot possibly cut government enough to pay for the tax cuts. It’s partially why the “plan” raises the lowest brackets tax rate and eliminates their deductions; to partially pay for the tax cuts for the rich

But setting aside piling on an estimated multi-trillions of dollars on the deficit and starving the federal government of operating funds, the filthy rich and corporations are going to see a bonafide bonanza and they are thrilled. The so-called “plan” is still extremely scarce on details, but by all accounts it amounts to raising taxes on the lowest incomes and eliminating their deductions, while drastically cutting taxes on the rich and corporations; and providing them with new “schemes” to reduce their tax liability even more by “going foreign.”

It also contains “reforms” to incentivize corporations and big businesses to avoid taxation by either moving offshore or restructuring into entities that enjoy minimal tax rates. It is not, as Trump asserts, any kind of benefit to the poor and middle class wage earners and will deliver exactly the same results as previous “trickle down” scams; more wealth for the rich.

Trump claims that heaping unfunded tax cuts on the rich and corporations will propel economic growth and lift wages. It is exactly what Kansas Governor Sam Brownback continued promising Kansas residents; even as the state’s finances and economy went deeper in the gutter. It is noteworthy that even as Kansas’ economy was dying to “reduce government” and enrich corporations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Brownback that Republicans wanted to do “the same thing” nationally when they get control of the government; despite the real life evidence that slashing taxes to enrich the already wealthy decimates the economy.

Now that they have control, Republicans are on the verge of “doing the same thing” and expect little resistance from the people. They’ve fooled the people under Republican administrations before, and since too many Americans are either memory challenged or stupid, Republicans and Trump are telling the people that “this time” the results will be different.

Republicans are aware of the  consensus opinion of real economists, and the history of “trickle-down” economics’ failure that was manifest when Reagan imposed it and then again when George W. Bush enacted it. This time “it,” no matter how one assesses it, is a multi-trillion-dollar tax cutting scheme and not the way to boost the economy, create jobs or raise wages.

This latest Republican tax “reform” is in no way meant to boost the economy or create jobs; it is a veritable wish list of tax cuts for the wealthy. Its express purpose is to provide a windfall for hedge fund managers, corporate executives, real estate developers and other members of the 1 percent.  It is no “happy coincidence” that Trump and his family would benefit as much or more than anyone in the richest 1 percent from this plan.

According to an estimate In the Huffington Post based on the one Trump tax return leaked last year, just eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax (A.M.T.) will cut Trump’s taxes by 81 percent, and reduce his tax rate to a measly 4.7 percent on all of his income of over $150 million. Keep in mind, that paltry 4.7 percent tax rate doesn’t include all the other tax cuts for the richest of the rich that will benefit Trump. If all the “reforms” are enacted, Trump and his family’s tax liability will likely be zero; like many of the Fortune 500 corporations that already pay no taxes. The number of those zero tax liability corporations will increase dramatically, and that doesn’t count the corporations that take advantage of another “reform” that rewards them for moving offshore.

Republicans know their base is stupid and will fall the trickle down scam again. They always do and anyone that doesn’t’ believe it should consider the relative ease at which Kansas’ governor Sam Brownback won reelection after killing the state’s economy with “tax cuts for the rich.” Now Trump is lying that this time is going to be different and besides providing the kind of tax reform he and his wealthy cohorts have lusted after for decades, he and his Republican scam artists are insulting Americans’ intelligence; as if the entire population is as inherently stupid as the Republican base.

There will be more commentary as the details of this abominable giveaway to Trump, the richest one percent and corporations become available. But based on the early “framework,” it will more of the same “reform” that blew up the deficit the last two times a Republican administration enacted a tax scam that the stupid sector will fall for again.

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