Wearing a cardboard top hat reading 'GOP Tax Scam,' Richard Zook, of Jackson, protests the GOP tax bill Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, at the intersection of Lafayette Street and Highland Avenue in Jackson.(Photo: MORGAN TIMMS/The Jackson Sun)
It was good of state Sen. Brian Kelsey to acknowledge in his Dec. 9 guest column that he supports the Congressional tax-cut plan because he personally would benefit from it. Politicians are rarely so forthright about their motives, particularly when there is that much self-interest involved.
The senator’s column was well-crafted and polished. It wove together the promises of financial boon for the lives of middle-class people with the hopeful time of the season looking to Christmas.
As someone who grew up on a farm in rural Hickman County, Tenn., and as someone who has served as a chaplain for years, I learned to ask good questions when something seemed amiss.
One of my mentors, Rev. Dr. John Claypool, used to say, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." When something doesn’t seem right, bring it to the light to find the truth.
Kelsey was in Nashville for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting recently, an organization that has come under scrutiny in the past for putting corporate interests well ahead of the needs of everyday citizens. His breakfast companions were keynote speakers for the ALEC event.
ALEC had previously packaged talking points for Sen. Kelsey when he co-sponsored a bill to prevent Tennessee from expanding healthcare, much to the chagrin of Gov. Bill Haslam. Instead of insuring upwards of 280,000 Tennessee residents, our state has seen the second most rural hospital closings in the country, and people have gone without healthcare who did not need to do so.
As for Kelsey's talking points in favor of the tax plan, according to the Congressional Budget Office report released, the initial gain of tax cuts for middle-class Americans is minimal and erodes completely after 10 years.
The University of Chicago surveyed 38 economists. Only one thought the tax plan would lead to any substantial growth in the economy.
Other indicators are less encouraging. By 2027, those making $40,000 to $50,000 will pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while people earning $1 million or more will get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.
The plan will add $1.4 trillion to the national deficit – a nice little lump of coal for the stockings of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I’ve spent 14 years as a chaplain. I serve now as a pediatric chaplain at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Every day, I hear from children and families who need decent health care – and desperately want representation that puts their needs first.
Sen. Kelsey’s column conflates Christmas with acquisitiveness, helping his own business and watching his stock options inflate.
In contrast, this season we remember the One born in Bethlehem who came so that all might live fully as the bonds of injustice and unjust systems are broken and the captives are set free. The way of loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is the way I follow.
Rev. David Weatherspoon, a pediatric chaplain at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, is a candidate for Tennessee State Senate Dist. 31 in 2018.
David Weatherspoon (Photo: David Weatherspoon)
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