Everyone must pay fair share 

Our greatest secular leaders share a special concern for the vulnerable with those of us in the faith traditions. They believe as we do that our country has an obligation to care for the poor and oppressed and that charity alone is not enough. It is one of the roles of government that all are served. But government cannot fulfill that obligation unless each of us pays our fair share of taxes.

Although the economy is recovering, many Arkansas residents are struggling, still unemployed or far behind in their bills. Arkansas faith-based organizations and other non-profits rely on federal funds to help these families. Federal commodity programs fill the food banks. Community organizations connect hard-working low-wage earners with federal tax credits and work supports that give them the extra boost they need to make ends meet.

The funds these organizations use to help families were already cut sharply last summer under federal deficit reduction legislation, forcing their members and partners to help more people with fewer resources.

Unfortunately, under the deficit law, funding for many human needs programs will be cut again in January — between 8 and 9 percent. As economists like Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics has said, these spending cuts will harm, not help, the economy. Instead, we need to help the "unheard third" of Americans who live below 200 percent of the poverty level. When they can afford to buy the necessities, their purchases will provide fuel for the economy.

Moreover, if we want a prosperous country in the future, we must invest in children and young adults today. When children are healthy and well-fed, they do better in school. When young adults are trained for a 21st century economy, businesses that need skilled workers will be able to expand.

There is a better choice than cutting investments in our future. The top 2 percent of earners (making more than $250,000 a year) can afford to give up some of the tax breaks they have benefited from during the past decade. Over the last three decades the income of the wealthiest has grown dramatically, while today the bottom 90 percent of earners are at their lowest income levels since 1983. Despite more concentration of wealth than at any time since before the Great Depression, the richest Americans are paying a smaller share of their income in taxes than they have in decades. Today many wealthy people pay less in taxes on a dollar of income than do families in the middle class.

If we let the extra tax cuts for the top 2 percent expire as scheduled in January, the result will be more than $80 billion in new revenue for 2013 alone.

Corporations also need to pay their fair share. Loopholes allow many corporations to pay little or no tax. For example, 26 Fortune 500 companies paid no net federal income taxes between 2008 and 2011.

All of this is now in the hands of Congress. In the coming months, we are likely to see votes on whether to cut human needs programs. We are also likely to see votes in the Senate and House on which of the Bush tax cuts to extend and whether we will further undermine the federal budget by giving the cuts to high income taxpayers and corporations. Congress needs to make meeting basic human needs a top priority when making these decisions. To achieve sustained economic growth, we need to invest in our young people and ensure that everyone is participating in our economy. Cutting programs that help those most in need makes no sense for our nation and our long-term economic growth.

Rev. Stephen Copley is the Chair of the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance. Max Brantley is on vacation.


Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Arkansas condones child abuse?

    If Harrises and Duggars go unpunished, yes.
    • Jun 4, 2015
  • Must address racial inequities

    We mourn for the families of the dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. As we grieve it's time to rekindle a conversation about race in America and press for the changes that the Emanuel congregation championed for centuries — changes that also made it a target.
    • Jun 25, 2015
  • Racism is systemic

    In a speech on Sunday at Bethel A.M.E. Church, Gov. Asa Hutchinson played directly into the narrative of respectability politics, where white people tell people of color how they should respond to a situation and condemn responses from others in the community experiencing anger, rage and other expressions of grief.
    • Jun 25, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Don't blame trigger warnings

    "Trigger warnings" have recently resurfaced in the news because of a letter from a University of Chicago dean of students that warned incoming freshmen to not expect advance notice of potentially upsetting material in the classroom
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Global health is local health

    First with the 2014 Ebola outbreak and now with the Zika virus, Americans are becoming reacquainted with the fear of infectious disease. But although Ebola and Zika are both serious public health threats, they pale in comparison to three other diseases in terms of inflicting suffering and loss of life around the world — tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas 2016: the microclimate election

    In the lead-up to the past four Arkansas election cycles, the forecast has been a fairly simple one: strong winds blowing in the GOP direction.
  • The big loser

    So now the big crybaby says he's losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind.
  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The big loser

    • We are leaving in 3 hours. An I never said that anybody said I DID…

    • on October 22, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Here's some more information for the investigator from the Enquirer. It's a confession from somebody…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Nobody here but you said anything bad about Shelton. Nothing that happened to her was…

    • on October 21, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation