Taking a break from His busy schedule as the world’s savior and redeemer, Jesus Christ found time two weeks ago to immerse himself in United States Presidential politics, endorsing Obama’s tax plan on wealthy earners. Or at least the President believes he did. At the National Prayer Breakfast, he invoked the Christian savior in order to sell his tax reform plan to a more religious audience, saying, “For me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’ teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.”
More recently, this week, in line with his increasingly partisan rhetoric, President Obama unveiled his annual budget proposal, calling for over a trillion dollars in tax increases on America’s most successful citizens. Indeed after taxing capital gains and dividends as real income, repealing the Bush tax cuts, and factoring in a 4% surtax for Obamacare, President Obama’s budget proposal would triple the tax burdens of many wealthy and middle income earners. Although President Obama now claims to be a representative of Jesus’ teachings, his new tax plans would probably make the Christian Savior quite disappointed.
President Obama contends that since Jesus Christ placed significant emphasis on charity, the Savior would favor a tax policy that institutionalizes such philanthropy by forcibly redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor. Through taxation, the President seeks to enforce mandatory charity and make wealthy Americans relinquish larger portions their income to the government regardless of their will or intention. However Jesus taught in Corinthians 9:7, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” When paying taxes, one determines their donation based on the mandatory payments established by the government rather than the generosity of their own being. Thus Jesus Christ would not view increased taxation as being in line with his teachings, which judge believers based on the voluntary sacrifices that they impose upon themselves for the benefit of others.
Indeed, according to the World Giving Index, which ranked the United States “the most charitable country in the world” for 2011, our fellow citizens do not need President Obama’s help to be generous. In fact, the President’s tax plan will probably jeopardize our future standing in that index. By forcibly confiscating money from successful Americans, the President leaves those fortunate citizens with less wealth to donate of their own accord, thereby reducing the private charity that Jesus emphasized as the sign of a pious society.
Another one of the benefits associated with private charity is that the donor can choose how their money is spent and which good cause it benefits. Individuals have special connections to different causes depending on their personal circumstances. In order to encourage individuals to be personally invested in their charity rather than viewing it as an inconvenient necessity, successful citizens should be allowed to give back to those specific organizations that deal with the issues that they and Christ most deeply care about. Meanwhile taxation serves as a source of revenue for the government, which provides many functions supported by neither Jesus nor the taxpayer. For instance, is indirectly funding abortions through Planned Parenthood consistent with Christ’s teachings? Whereas churches and other private institutions use virtually all of their funding for good works in the community, much of the tax revenue collected by governments gets wasted on bureaucratic expenses or systematic inefficiencies. Since inefficient agencies and bureaucratic waste have no real positive effect on the national community, taxation cannot really be considered pure charity anyway.
Christianity’s tenth commandment states, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.” Like the other items mentioned in that commandment, one’s wealth belongs only to that particular individual who has rightfully earned it and, according to the Bible, should not be coveted by any other men. However our current progressive tax system rewards citizens who long for their neighbors’ wealth by actually redistributing to those less successful citizens exactly what they covet. In order to win votes, many liberal politicians offer such individuals more and more of their neighbors’ belongings, thereby using human greed and envy, two of Christianity’s seven deadliest sins, to their political advantage. With the 2012 Presidential election season approaching, President Obama’s heightened rhetoric and recently released budget certainly seek to accomplish that same goal. While our founders once used Judeo-Christian laws and tenets to serve as the foundation of this nation’s democracy, our current progressive tax system ignores Judeo-Christian values by encouraging the populace to envy successful Americans and vote for themselves more of their neighbors’ earnings.
Despite the inherent differences between how these two figures view income inequality and charity, the President feels that his use of Jesus Christ as a spokesman for his recent budget proposal is a safe political strategy since the Savior will not likely descend to Earth purely to chastise Barack Obama for misrepresenting His teachings.
But the President should not feel that he has to manipulate Jesus’ words in order to win votes. Although the Savior does not wish to lend any endorsement to the plan, there are probably other legendary figures whose support the President could tout instead. For instance, Jesus Christ may frown upon the President’s budget from heaven, but an agile archer from Sherwood Forest is probably very anxious to lend his backing.
Written by Evan Draim