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|Today's Take: NCR's daily Web column|
|Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news. It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.|
|September 12, 2003||
Vol. 1, No. 109
So where'd you spend your tax cut?
By Joe Feuerherd, NCR Washington correspondent
Right around Labor Day many Americans with dependent children (are there any other kind?) got a nice gift in the mail courtesy of George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress: a $400 per kid tax rebate.
I got mine and, taking very seriously my obligation to help stimulate our moribund economy, spent it. If they send me more, I'll probably spend that too -- no sacrifice is too great for my country.
Unfortunately, not everyone with children got a rebate. At the last minute of negotiations over the tax bill (and rushing to get out of Washington for the Memorial Day holiday), Congress and the President decided they had run the tab up too high. So, in the name of fiscal sanity, they preserved the tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest 1 percent (read: Republican voters and contributors) and denied rebates of the kind I received to families earning between $10,000 and $26,000 (read: Democrat voters).
This bit of legislative legerdemain wasn't fully apparent until after the bill passed, at which point even the president was a little embarrassed and said he supported extending a tax break to the families of the 12 million kids who did not benefit on the first go round. The Senate passed a bill doing just that, but the House Republican leadership, not nearly as compassionate in its conservatism as the president, refused to go along. Tom Delay, the appropriately surnamed Republican House Majority Leader, said the only way he would go along with such a plan is if Congress would approve more tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
So that's where things stand now.
Except for one group of people -- members of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Arlington, Va., -- who have a different idea. They are taking their tax rebates, or some portion of them, and donating one-third of the money to the parish emergency assistance kitty and two-thirds to the diocesan Catholic Charities office, the victim of recent budget cuts.
Queen of Peace is a small parish -- about 700 regular Sunday mass attendees -- but demographically diverse, parishioner Vincent Miller told me. Roughly speaking, about half the parishioners are white collar professionals with good jobs and household incomes in the six figures; the other half are working poor families -- folks who would really benefit from an extra $400 or $800 or $1200 cash influx.
"The tax cut line was drawn right down the middle of our Eucharistic community," said Miller.
The response has been impressive. One family with four kids donated their entire $1,200 windfall. To date at the Spiritan-staffed parish more than 70 parishioners have contributed $12,000 (and the appeal lasts through the end of this month).
When they're finished collecting, parishioners will write a letter to Bush and members of Congress explaining what they did and urging that the working poor get the same tax cut the rest of with children got.
Congress is too late for Labor Day, but maybe, hope the Queen of Peacers, they can be convinced to do the right thing by Thanksgiving.
Joe Feuerherd's e-mail address is email@example.com
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