Nov 28, 2012

I encourage my rabbinic colleagues to sign on to end tax cuts for the top 2%

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Dear Rabbis:

While electing the right leaders is a crucial part of our democracy, doing the actual work of governing and passing wise legislation is perhaps more important. As we're sure all of you know, a critical point in the negotiations to resolve the budget crisis is whether to sunset the tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year.

President Obama, who so many of you worked so hard to elect, is looking for widespread public support for this position and we are grateful that Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice is working to raise the voice of the Jewish community on this issue. 

We encourage you to add your name to a rabbinic letter to our elected officials.


Rabbi Sam Gordon
Rabbi Steven Bob
Rabbi Burt Visotzky

Dear Rabbinic Colleague:

The coming weeks are a critical time for those dedicated to holding America to its promise to build a more just and equitable society.  As congressional leaders and the president work to bring the federal government's revenue and spending more in balance, so many priorities of the American Jewish Community are at risk, be it disaster relief, foreign aid, or support for society's most vulnerable.

That's why Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, supports ending the temporary tax cuts for our nation's top two percent. This summer we sent a group of young Jews to have conversations about our tax system with members of Congress, Jewish leaders and others across the country. What we learned was that all kinds of Americans – from truck drivers to teachers, judges, real estate brokers, rabbis and stay-at-home dads – want a nation and a tax system that work for everyone.

Our "If I were a Rich Man" tour helped move forward a conversation in our community about what our tax system looks like. Now we are taking it to the next level, reaching out to organize support within the Jewish community for a more just tax system, as a post-election Congress turns its attention to averting a fiscal crisis.

You can learn more about our work and why we support allowing the temporary tax cuts, for those making over $250,000 annually, to sunset, in order to help ensure that the opportunities of America are shared by all.

Today, I am writing to ask you to join us in this work and, as a first step, to join in lending your name to the letter below by Tuesday, December 4. We are not asking for any organizational or congregational affiliation. Just your voice, speaking up for those who are so often silenced. 

Thank you in advance.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen- Bend the Arc Board member
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin- Bend the Arc Board member
Rabbi Sydney Mintz- Bend the Arc Board member
Rabbi Dorothy Richman- Bend the Arc Board member
Rabbi David Saperstein- Bend the Arc Board member
Rabbi Felicia Sol- Bend the Arc Board member
Rabbi Morris Allen- Jewish Community Action Rabbinic Advisor
Rabbi Jack Moline- Jews United for Justice Rabbinic Advisory Council
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Bend the Arc Rabbi in Residence

To our elected representatives,

As rabbis, we are called upon to uphold the highest values of our faith, and to teach the laws of our tradition. Deuteronomy 15:4 proclaims "And there shall be no needy among you." On this pillar was built a history of communal responsibility. Raising revenue in order to support important community institutions was established in the Torah's commandments, extolled by the prophets, and has been a hallmark of Jewish communities ever since.  

As Americans, we believe that building a just country requires that those who enjoy this great nation's opportunities also share in its burdens.  We therefore urge President Obama and this Congress to allow the temporary tax cuts passed in 2001, and extended in 2003, to expire, as scheduled, on December 31, for all Americans making over $250,000 a year.

America faces great challenges. If we want our economy to continue to improve and create jobs, and we want a society that is secure, vibrant and just, we must approach those challenges honestly. One of the most significant issues we face – fiscally and morally – is these tax cuts, which have contributed to the escalating inequality of the past decade.

We know that building a healthy, ethical society isn't just a personal duty, but a communal one. Our needs and our lives are closely bound with those of everyone around us.

Whatever the President and Congress do regarding the tax cuts will have enormous effects on individuals and families across the nation. Allowing these cuts to expire at the end of this year for the wealthiest two percent of Americans – those making more than $250,000 a year – is a crucial step toward increasing the equality and basic fairness that our tradition calls for.

Ending the tax cuts for those who need them the least will bring in hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. Together with a careful examination of our government spending, one that is not based on once again taking the most from those who have least to spare, this money will enable the crafting of a moral budget, one that protects our social safety net, strengthens our public education system, and increases job growth. 

At this moment, as you are tasked with avoiding a fiscal crisis and restoring our economy, we urge you to hear the voices of those with the least among us, those who are so often silenced. Hear the hungry child, the student struggling for his future, and the veteran who served her country and is now working three jobs to find her place in it. These are the voices of America.

We, Rabbis from across this great nation, urge you to hear their voices and to heed their call. It is time to end the tax cuts for those making over $250,000 annually and help move America toward justice and prosperity. 


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