Yearly Archives: 2011
“In a system of taxation based on justice and equity it is fundamental that the burdens be proportioned to the capacity of the people contributing” (Mater et Magistra, 132).
Every citizen has a moral obligation to contribute to the common good. In financial terms, this responsibility is carried out primarily through a person’s labor and the wealth it creates. But a citizen also contributes through the payment of taxes, which are used to fund the cost of government.
Balancing this tax burden is a matter of prudential judgment. Taxes that are adjusted to income levels are designed to place more of the burden on the wealthy. However, some argue that this policy penalizes those who are successful and discourages them from further investment and industry that creates jobs. In other words, “taxing the rich” may have negative consequences for the economy as a whole.
How the combination of progressive and regressive taxes is balanced is a source of much debate. Regardless of the solution, taxation policy should not become a weapon in class warfare. Citizens should work together to create a solution that is fair to all sides. The common good should be the goal of any taxation policy, not the interests of one particular class.
A just tax system is one that is based on a citizen’s ability to pay in proportion to the cost of maintaining government. In supporting their nation and communities, taxpayers should not find themselves unable to provide for their own families or maintain their businesses. Workers should earn enough money to pay their taxes and still take home a “living wage.” Traditional families should also be encouraged. This means that a husband working full-time should be able to support his wife and children at home.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many mothers are forced to leave their children in order to earn second incomes because of the amount of tax the fathers must pay out of their incomes. This economic pressure adds to the stress and emotional cost to parents and their children. This is why the USCCB has supported family-friendly tax legislation, such as tax credits for children and direct rebates to low-income families with dependents. The bishops’ conference has also supported adjustments that would reduce the “marriage penalty” by increasing the qualifying amount for married workers.
Large corporations, small businesses, and other institutions that employ workers also have a significant impact on family stability, as well as on society as a whole. In addition to paying workers’ wages, corporations provide financial support for the common good by paying federal and state income taxes. These taxes represent another major source of revenue for the government.
To sustain the corporations and businesses that provide employment and financial support, the government should ensure that corporate taxes are low enough for both large and small companies to operate at optimal levels. “Governments must provide regulations and a system of taxation which encourage firms to preserve the environment, employ disadvantaged workers, and create jobs in depressed areas. Managers and stockholders should not be torn between their responsibilities to their organizations and their responsibilities toward society as a whole” (USCCB, Economic Justice for All, 118).
- Taxes should be fairly based upon one’s ability to pay.
- Tax policy should not penalize marriage or the raising of children.
- Corporate taxes should not threaten the capacity to create and sustain jobs.
The well-being of our families, communities, and nation depends on the success of business and industry to create wealth. The greater the growth of industry, the more stable our society becomes: “Another name for peace is development. Just as there is a collective responsibility for avoiding war, so too there is a collective responsibility for promoting development” (Centesimus Annus, 52).
Business and industry create the wealth that provides financial support for their workers, both blue and white collar, and their families through earned wages, medical benefits, life insurance, disability, and pension plans. Without these wages and benefits, most workers would be unable to obtain the goods necessary to living life without relying on the government for direct assistance. (more…)
“The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable” (CCC 2221).
Most parents know that it’s their job to oversee the education of their children, but some mistakenly think it’s the responsibility of the government. That’s understandable, given the availability and easy access of public schools. However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, “As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them that corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise” (CCC 2229). (more…)
H.R. 1179 – Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011
It is well known the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) forces health care plans to provide coverage of abortion and use our tax dollars to pay for abortion. In addition, PPACA does not protect the conscience rights of health care insurers, providers, and personnel who decline to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
In response, H.R. 1179, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, was introduced by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R, NE-01) on March 17, 2011. It amends PPACA “to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary (in the case of individual coverage) without penalty.”
It also applies similar guidance to the state health insurance exchange programs and becomes retroactive to when PPACA was signed into law by President Obama as if the language was included.
Click here to contact Congress today about this important legislation.
Doug Kmiec was the leading Obama Catholic in the last presidential campaign. As a former dean of the Catholic University of America Law School and a Reagan appointee to the Justice Department, when Kmiec repeatedly called Obama “pro-life” in the 2008 presidential campaign he provided much needed Catholic cover for an infanticide supporter.
I found Kmiec’s support for Obama so outlandish I suggested publicly that he must be looking for an appointment. When Kmiec objected to my speculation, I had to admit I had no proof of his motivation. However, I once again expressed my wonderment that Kmiec could be putting his Catholic credibility on the line for the most pro-abortion presidential candidate of all time. (more…)
Even though the votes are stacked against passing legislation in the Senate this Thursday to de-fund Planned Parenthood, Senator Roy Blunt (R, MO) is taking the opportunity to educate his colleagues about Planned Parenthood’s use of our tax dollars. (more…)
Marriage and Family
“A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated” (CCC 2202).
The Catholic Church teaches that the institution of marriage comes prior to the State and, therefore, must be accepted as normative. Indeed, all the nations in the world over the past 20 centuries have never questioned this standard, until recently. (more…)
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released on May 28, 2010 revealed that the Planned Parenthood Federation of America received $657.1 million in taxpayer dollars from Fiscal Year 2002 to Fiscal Year 2009. The largest source of these funds ($342.1 million) was the Title X family planning program.
In 2009, Planned Parenthood performed 332,000 abortions while only making 977 adoption referrals…with the support of your tax dollars.
Click here to tell your Member of Congress to support Congressman Mike Pence’s effort to de-fund Planned Parenthood and stop taxpayer funding for abortion.
Judiciary (Chapter XI)
“Some there must be who devote themselves to the work of the commonwealth, who make the laws or administer justice, or whose advice and authority govern the nation in times of peace, and defend it in war. Such men clearly occupy the foremost place in the State, and should be held in highest estimation, for their work concerns most nearly and effectively the general interests of the community” (Rerum Novarum, 34).
In recent years, prolonged political battles have been waged over presidential nominations to federal courts of appeals. When President Bush nominated Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the Supreme Court, there was an aggressive effort against these nominations from pro-abortion lobbies on the grounds they appeared to be pro-life. On the other hand, pro-life leaders opposed the nomination of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor by President Obama because of their pro-abortion views.
The kind of nominees the President will likely make to both the Supreme and Federal Courts is an important factor in how Catholics should decide to cast their vote. Because of debates over abortion and same-sex marriage, presidential nominees will be closely questioned during the campaign on their judicial philosophy.
Since these are the current flashpoints in the battle over judicial nominations, it’s not surprising that the religious commitments of court nominees have been so closely scrutinized in recent years. Given that Evangelicals and faithful Catholics are united in defending unborn life and marriage between a man and woman, the judges from those faith traditions have been attacked on the grounds that their faith commitments disqualify them as arbiters over constitutional matters.
Role of Judges
The U.S. Constitution is the cornerstone of our law and jurisprudence. The role of a judge is to interpret, not create. The separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution gives the Congress the power to make laws and courts only the limited power to interpret them. Judges are expected to put their personal beliefs aside and base their decisions on the law and the Constitution alone.
Everyone has personal beliefs, matters about which they have deep convictions, and there is no reason that a Catholic or an Evangelical should be considered less able to interpret legal matters less objectively than anyone else.
It’s especially unfortunate when it is Catholic politicians themselves who lead the fight against those justices who have demonstrated strong commitments to Catholic teaching. Public officials who treat a judicial nominee’s Catholic faith as an obstacle to serving as a judge not only demonstrate a bias against religious beliefs but also reveal a misunderstanding about Catholic teaching on judicial responsibility itself.
In fact, faithful Catholics, who are grounded in the concepts of following rules and exhibiting humility, should be especially well-suited for judicial service because they would naturally reject the qualities that lead a judge to being an activist judge, a creator of law rather than an interpreter.
The most serious problem in the judiciary is the presence of activist judges who use every opportunity to misconstrue, contort, and stretch the law to create the maximum amount of legal justification for abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage. Those who nominate and confirm judicial activists try to shape the courts because they cannot get what they want in the political process. Activist judges can disenfranchise voters of faith.
Catholics both within government and without must be on guard against an attitude that holds law to be whatever the legislator says it is. This reduction of law can endanger democracy and morality by removing the objective foundation of morals and law as given by nature and recognized by reason.
Eternal laws are the government of all things by God and form the basis of the social moral order. Their assimilation to human society through reason gives the immediate basis of political morality; natural law is the foundation of a sound political vision. Human laws that contradict the natural law—for example, American laws legalizing abortion—have no authority for Catholics. Martin Luther King quoted St. Thomas Aquinas on this point in his influential “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
What does this mean in our system of democratic government? First, our elected officials must make laws that respect natural law. Second, individuals who use the judiciary to create rights or obligations that have no basis in our Constitution are acting improperly.
Our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, was clear on this point:
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Some would have us believe that reference to natural law is a veiled attempt simply to establish a new “conservative” brand of judicial activism. These pundits, though, disregard the Founders’ view of natural law as seen in the Declaration as well as the natural law’s emphasis on the necessity for officials (including judges) to act only within the bounds of their legitimate authority.
1. Judges should be evaluated according to their judicial records and commitment to the limited judicial role, not attacked for their privately held religious views.
2. Those who would nominate and confirm judicial activists disenfranchise the faithful Catholic voter.
3. Catholic leaders have a duty to respect their constituents and their Church’s traditional commitment to natural law tradition when considering judicial appointees.
By Deal Hudson, President of Catholic Advocate