Did Jesus Say a 35% Top Tax Bracket is Too Low?

President Obama used the National Prayer Breakfast to attempt to persuade Christians and Jews that our beliefs obligate us to support his politics and the godless religion of progressivism with its irrational faith in the power of large, bureaucratic, administrative government to make the people better.

After briefly acknowledging the benefits of “turning to our Creator, listening to him” the President blessed the assembled Pastors, Priests, Rabbis and lay leaders with a snippet from his 2012 campaign script:

This is especially important right now, when we’re facing some big challenges as a nation. Our economy is making progress as we recover from the worst crisis in three generations, but far too many families are still struggling to find work or make the mortgage, pay for college, or, in some cases, even buy food…

Those who listen to the Creator do indeed hear that believers who are in a position to help the needy should do so, but at all times, not just when the economy is so weak an incumbent President’s reelection is at risk.  As Jesus said “the poor you will always have with you,” even when GDP is way up and unemployment is way down.

And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone.  And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.  But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’ teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.”

When Obama speaks of  “tax breaks” in this context he means the current tax rate schedule with it’s 35% top bracket, enacted in 2003, during the hated Bush Administration.  For eight years Democrats have relentlessly demanded a return to the pre-Bush schedule with it’s 39.6% top bracket.  To support his demand for higher taxes Obama cited part of Jesus’ words from Luke 12, verse 48:

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

But Jesus was not talking about income tax rates.  This sentence is at the end of a lengthy discussion of the responsibilities of the disciples and other believers regarding not their income or wealth, (they had little) but their knowledge of the teachings of Jesus.  More would be required of those who had greater knowledge and understanding.  Indeed, After Jesus ascended into Heaven the disciples faithfully devoted the remainder of their lives to spreading the gospel.  At least four eventually died as martyrs, executed by stoning or crucifiction.

Jesus never once used the term “tax breaks.”  He never called for higher taxes on anyone.  He did not call for government to apply force to collect funds to help the needy.  He did exhort us all as individuals, regardless of income to personally help the poor and needy, voluntarily, with gifts and with our time and effort.

While government operates by segmenting the people into income brackets Christianity treats everyone, from richest to poorest  the same, by asking for a tithe, or 10% of income.   Those who can are encouraged –  not required – to give more and experience more of the joy of giving.

Christianity is a voluntary faith.  Jesus does not want any force or coercion used on his behalf.   In fact government undermines God’s plan for joyous giving and grateful receiving by applying it’s impersonal, administrative formulae to identify some as entitled by law to receive and others as required by law to provide.  The receiver feels no gratitude and the giver is deprived of the joy one should experience from voluntarily helping.

Do prominent politicians tithe?

At Liberty Works we’re reluctant to report data from the news media.  We try to draw from original sources to ensure accuracy.   We’ve done a good bit of Internet searching and so far have been able to find copies of actual tax returns only for Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingirch.  Here’s what we found:

  • President Obama’s 2010 tax return shows charitable contributions at 6% of his $5.5 million in income.
  • Vice President Biden’s 2010 tax return shows income of $337,370 including $28,000 in Social Security benefits.  His charitable contributions were 1.43%, or $3,920 in cash plus donations of “shoes, clothing, furniture and dishes” to Goodwill with a declared value of $900.
  • Newt Gingrich’s 2011 tax return shows $3.2 million in income.  He did not collect Social Security even though he’s old enough to be eligible for benefits.  His charitable contributions were $81,233 or 2.57%.  However, Gingrich also has a charitable foundation and part of his book royalties and speaking fees were paid directly to the foundation, without passing through his personal taxes.  So, we can’t tell how much he gave in total.
  • Mitt Romney’s return shows donations of $2.9 million or about 13% of his income.

From various media reports we found the following, which we can not confirm:

  • In 2005 Vice President Dick Cheney gave 78% of his income to charity
  • In 2007 George W. Bush gave 18%.
  • In 2007 Bill and Hillary Clinton gave 9.34%
  • In 2006 John McCain gave 25%

15 Comments so far

  1. RockyWonder on February 5th, 2012

    It’s outrageous. The average tax break from the Bush tax cuts enjoyed by the top 1 percent of is more than the entire average income of the 99 percent.

    And after a decade of giving money to those who literally didn’t need it, Right wingers use the deficit as an excuse to take away the social safety net that protects the most vulnerable members of society.

  2. Sarah Livingston on February 5th, 2012

    “Outrageous” you say? It’s outrageous that this President told his rich friends in San Francisco that Christians were as dumb as mules. I’ll quote him exactly: “bitter, clinging to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant as a way to explain their frustrations.”

    Now he’s one of us?

  3. Kellabeck on February 5th, 2012

    Ending Bush tax cuts for millionaires should be a no brainer. Huge majorities are against them. They were already supposed to expire at the end of 2010, but Obama cut a deal with Republicans to extend them

    Extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would cost us more than $700 billion over the next decade.

    Obama should be more emphatic in denouncing Republicans’ simultaneous demand to give the Koch brothers a tax cut while pushing benefit cuts to vital, basic programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

  4. NYTeaParty on February 5th, 2012

    Obama will say anything to anyone to get a few more votes or more money. At the Prayer Breakfast he talks about faith. Then he goes to a union hall and talks another way. Then he goes to his wall street friends and tells them something else. Finally, he goes to Hollywood and tells them yet another story.

  5. Drew on February 6th, 2012

    “Crome each according to…”

    As NY Tea Party pointed out, Obama will say anything…including laughably out of context things to shill for votes and taxes.

    Here’s a quick prayer. Dear Lord, please give us the strength to endure the last year of this frightening mans reign, and deliver unto us a leader who can get the country moving in the right direction at a reasonable pace for the good of everyone.

    Can I get an AMEN?

  6. Sarah Livingston on February 6th, 2012

    AMEN

  7. MIles Standish on February 6th, 2012

    So would Jesus be in favor of our extreme inequality in this country, with the rich gobbling up any gains in productivity and GDP?

  8. Arne77 on February 6th, 2012

    Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing and is in OJT mode. His policies have made the recession worse. Much worse. For him now to claim Jesus is on his side is disgusting.

    Just a couple of days ago his administration hammered the Catholic Church with birth control and abortion pill requirements that force them to either throw their moral principles under the bus or shut down their hospitals.

  9. Tim_LA on February 6th, 2012

    Obama should remember “separation of church and state” which is supposed to be so very important to his party. Don’t try to use OUR religious beliefs to argue in favor of YOUR big-government spending and taxing.

    We’re fed up out here.

  10. Drew on February 6th, 2012

    So would Jesus be in favor of our extreme inequality in this country, with the rich gobbling up any gains in productivity and GDP?

    Got any policy prescriptions other than steal other people’s money?

  11. Miles Standish on February 6th, 2012

    Yes Drew. the policies are easy to figure out.

    The rich aren’t paying anything close to what they should in taxes. Thats why we have such huge deficits. Step one would be to end the Bush tax cuts. Step two go back to the 90% tax rate in effect in the fifties when the middle class made its biggest gains. The rich don’t need tax breaks. And the idea that low taxes is for so-called “job creators” is now proven to be only in the GOP imagination

    We need tough oversight and regulations so CEOs don’t get 700 times as much as their employees and companies can’t flush their pension plans any time they want. Living wage laws like every other advanced democracy in the world.

    It’s not in the Bible That society should be be made up of the gaining ground mega-wealth 1% and the losing ground 99%

  12. NYTeaParty on February 6th, 2012

    Miles
    Who has “proven” low taxes for job creators is a bad idea? You can’t prove that. But you can prove that low taxes on employers makes them more able to create jobs.

    What if your employer was crushed by Obama with a 90% like you want. do you think your job would be more secure? I am a job creator. I have 17 employees and I’m pretty sure they are all smart enough to know better than you that if our business has to suck up a tax hike it won’t help them any.

  13. Drew on February 6th, 2012

    So miles –

    It is your view that since someone is successful they should have 90% of what they make taken from them? Would you risk capital, or your time and labor if you knew that if you lost, you would lose every nickel, and if you won you would give away 90%? I wouldn’t.

    And empirically people won’t. The Rolling Stones left England for this very reason.

    Nobody in their right mind would do this. The only people who think this makes sense are the leaches. Those who figure they will get part of the 90%.

  14. Miles Standish on February 6th, 2012

    90% worked fine in the fifties under Republican president Eisenhower. The middle class grew to a majority on good paying manufacturing jobs. Moms didn’t have to work just to keep ahead of the bills and they stayed home with the kids.

    Even corporations were more responsible then. they hired workers here at home instead of shipping all the jobs out to china for child labor. They put American people ahead of profits.

    There is no proof that the rich are job creators. Demand creates jobs, not giving away money to people who don’t need it.

  15. Drew on February 7th, 2012

    Miles

    Thank you for establishing yourself as a communist. Back to your union rag……