Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis are launching the Poor People’s Campaign next week.
By Kelly Macias Daily Kos, Friday Dec 01, 2017 · 12:01 PM EST
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As Republicans move closer to passing a tax bill that would be disastrous for most Americans, it becomes abundantly clear (as if it weren’t already) that the party does not care about anyone but the rich. This bill, which will increase the deficit by $1 trillion and cause the poor and working class to be worse off, will also cause health insurance premiums to rise—meaning 13 million Americans could lose their health care coverage by 2027.
It is, in a word, abhorrent. It is also an act of violence, according to the Rev. William Barber and the Rev. Liz Theoharis. In an essay published Friday in The Guardian, they note the hypocrisy of how this plan is based on giving tax cuts to the very wealthy and to corporations at the expense of the poor.
The claim of the cuts is scarcity. But we do not have scarcity of money; we have a scarcity of moral will. We have an abundance of resources that could end poverty for everyone.
Extremist leaders are proposing to give billions in tax breaks to the wealthy, and to pay for it by raising taxes and cutting life-saving services for poor people, working poor people and the most vulnerable among us.
The argument for these tax cuts that Republicans have used for decades is that somehow this extra money that millionaires and corporations will save will ultimately “trickle down” to the rest of us. What this presumes is that short-term gains for the rich and big business will stimulate the economy over the long run because of an increased need for labor and capital. In their heads, companies and people will be so flush with cash that they’ll be hiring like crazy, raising salaries, and all will be right with the world. Sounds lovely, in theory. But you don’t have to be a scholar in economic theory to understand why this is a strategy that won’t work. Companies and rich people are more likely to invest any extra funds than they are to give it out to ordinary workers. And they’ve already said as much.
The proponents of this bill have promised us that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations will “trickle down” to the rest. Not only does history refute this tired talking point, the executives who lead the companies themselves deny they will invest their newfound gains in good jobs that could lift working people and their communities. Instead, companies like Cisco, Pfizer and Coca-Cola have said they will turn most of the gains to their wealthy shareholders in a vicious circle of greed and vice.
We know our nation has a heart problem when our elected leaders would rather fight a war on the poor than a war on poverty. This is bigger than any one bill. Legislation like this could only come so close to fruition in a broken political system.
But even more sad and incomprehensible is how this party is consistently supported by a core group of people because of the toxic brew of racism, sexism, and xenophobia they consistently spew. Yet, this very same group of people will also be much worse off if this plan is to pass. Republicans know that. They just don’t care.
Cutting taxes on the wealthy and eliminating services for the poor and dispossessed has been a plan of white nationalists ever since the days of the southern strategy led by the likes of Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. It is a strategy that those with power and wealth have used throughout history to divide and conquer people at the bottom. What is tragic is the states that are the poorest are the states with the worst voter suppression and the states with the members of Congress most ardently behind this plan.
Every day since Nov. 8, 2016 feels like a test of our values, our will, and our conscience. This nation has been through many things and will continue to endure them. But we must really ask ourselves what we believe and what are we willing to stand up and fight for. On Monday, the Rev.Barber and the Rev. Theoharis are launching a revival of the Poor People’s Campaign, in the spirit of the very same one started by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967. They are hoping that this movement will be an opportunity for increased civic engagement and change—including voter education, civil disobedience, and direct action. This is a call to action for all of us. “Whether the tax bill succeeds or fails, it has given the country’s poor, as well as people of faith and conscience who stand with them, one more reason to stand up and sound the call for the moral revival our country so desperately needs.”
Learn more about the Poor People’s Campaign here.