At 11:00 PM on New Year’s Day, the House of Representatives voted 257-167 to pass the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012”. The bill was imperfect, yet nonetheless one worth supporting. It included the first bipartisan agreement to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in 20 years and clearly established the principle that deficit reduction cannot and should not be achieved purely by cutting spending.
Together with you, we at Bend the Arc called for those who have benefited the most from the opportunities that America affords, to give back a little more in order that we need not cut essential programs and services for those who need them most. This bill answered that call.
Over the last few months Bend the Arc brought together over 300 rabbis, from across the nation and across denominations, to sign a letter urging that tax rates be raised on income over $250,000. Joining the rabbis' voices were thousands of individuals from 48 states who came together to advocate for a more just tax system. Many of you participated in the more than 30 events which were held in homes and community centers all over the country. Our voices were heard across the nation and in our nation’s capital (Washington Post).
This was the first time in many years that a strong Jewish communal voice spoke clearly about the need for new revenue, and your voice enabled us to raise the profile of the Jewish community in several critical ways. Together, we sparked an important conversation within the Jewish community (JTA). Our voice was made even stronger through working with Christian and Muslim clergy to raise a collective moral voice on the budget (Washington Jewish Week), and in so doing, it strengthened the hand of those leaders fighting for a fairer tax system.
This deal is not perfect, but supporting it is the responsible thing to do. It will keep taxes from going up for 98% of Americans while raising rates on income over $400,000 per individual or $450,000 per couple. As Jews and as Americans we believe in the responsibility of the individual to the community and of the community to the individual.
As our elected officials move forward in grappling with the possible sequester, we will call on you to join us in urging them to keep our communal and national responsibilities at the forefront of their thinking and to refrain from undercutting the social safety net, which plays such a crucial role in helping Americans living in poverty and those struggling to stay out of poverty.