*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Only blind and dumb Americans are unaware that the primary reason Republicans serve in Congress or state legislatures is to take something, or everything, away from the American people; it’s just what they live for and love to do. And, they always devise bizarre reasons to rob Americans no matter if it is their retirement income, healthcare, public education and any government assistance.
If they are prevented from taking things from Americans, Republicans will go to great lengths to make it as onerous as possible to receive what is generally paid for by the people themselves. One of the more hateful maneuvers over the past decade is Republicans demanding that a condition for receiving any kind of assistance is an accompanying drug test; even though studies and research have shown there are negligible instances of positive drug tests for poor people receiving any kind of government assistance. Still, Republicans insist that it will save money and reduce the deficit if assistance recipients are drug tested. The implication is that all poor people are drug-addled “takers.”
One Democratic Congresswoman, Gwen Moore (WI), came up with a clever idea to satisfy the Republican demand that Americans receiving special government benefits be subjected to unconstitutional drug testing. In fact, Representative Moore is “sick and tired of being sick and tired of the criminalization of poverty;” specifically the discriminatory attempts by conservatives to require poor working families receiving public assistance to pass drug tests.
Apparently what set the Wisconsin Democrat off was the unveiling of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s poverty plan a little over a week ago. Moore said,
“When he stood in front of a drug treatment center and rolled out his anti-poverty initiative, pushing this narrative that poor people are drug addicts, that was the last straw. The benefits we give to poor people are so limited compared to what we give to the top one percent. It’s a drop in the bucket.”
“We’re not going to get rid of the federal deficit by cutting poor people off SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program]. But if we are going to drug-test people to reduce the deficit, let’s start on the other end of the income spectrum.”
Moore understands what it means to grow in a poor family dependent up welfare, so she introduced legislation extending drug-testing requirements to another income bracket that receives federal assistance, the richest one percent.
Representative Moore’s proposal, the Top 1% Accountability Act (H.R. 5507), will require the wealthiest taxpayers seeking itemized deductions over $150,000 to “submit a recent drug test to the Internal Revenue Service [with their yearly income tax filing] or claim a significantly lower reduction on their income tax return.” The purpose, according to Ms. Moore, is to “engage the wealthy in a conversation about what fair tax policy looks like.”
It is noteworthy that $150,000 in itemized deductions is three times the median income and six times the annual earnings of poverty level recipients of public assistance and mandated drug tests earn. Also, of the 22 percent of median-income tax filers that itemized their deductions, the average figure is in the $15,000 range. The average income to exceed Ms. Moore’s $150,000 deduction number is well over $1 million annually.
Of course, Republicans will see to it that Ms. Moore’s legislation never sees a committee, much less a vote, but her reasoning is sound and the idea is simply brilliant to make a very important point about fair tax policies that are equitable for all Americans.
However awesome Ms. Moore’s proposal is, and it is an awesome idea, she is omitting another group of welfare recipients that get over a hundred billion dollars a year in taxpayer-funded assistance and have the unique distinction of never paying a penny in taxes. A terrible idea is allowing churches and so-called “clergy” to avoid paying taxes that cost Americans in excess of $82.5 billion (2013) annually, and that does not include state and local tax exemptions in all 50 states. Add to that the ridiculous “faith-based initiatives” that handed over $15.3 billion in cash (2007) to already wealthy churches and the completely unfair notion that members of the “clergy” are allowed to “double dip” on their earnings and that $82.5 billion number grows to a stunning figure.
Now, religious advocates claim churches do such good godly work for the people that they should be exempt from contributing to the nation, states and communities to build and maintain schools, roads, national defense, law enforcement and fire protection. But that argument is bovine excrement. Because the people that do contribute to the welfare of the country and communities like teachers, firefighters, road workers, police officers and garbage collectors all have to pay their fair share of income and property taxes; and they are actually doing good work for the people.
Although Republicans will never subject either the rich or the churches to drug testing, Moore’s proposal is sound and would likely garner significant support from taxpayers sick to death of giving those who least need it outrageous sums of taxpayer money; whether it is in tax exemption or slimy tax breaks for the rich. It would also eliminate the Republican double-standard of criminalizing low income Americans who only receive government assistance because they earn poverty wages, are disabled, children, active duty service members, Veterans or the elderly; not because they are drug addicts.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.