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Rabbi Saperstein: "This compromise cannot distract from the need to address urgent structural challenges. In this time of economic hardship, we should not be taking steps that reduce the government's ability to fulfill its responsibility to its citizens."
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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 20, 2010 -- In response to the signing into law of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4853), Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Director Rabbi David Saperstein issued the following statement:
Last week, President Obama signed into law legislation that addresses the expiring tax cuts enacted by the previous administration. The legislation reflects compromise on both sides. Partial satisfaction is the hallmark of compromise, and we do not make a judgment on the compromise itself, but we seek to identify those aspects that will protect the most vulnerable among us and those that will present challenges to the government's ability to do so.
In exchange for a two-year extension of the tax cuts for all income brackets and higher exemption levels and reduced rates for the estate tax, the Administration got bipartisan support for some important concessions: protection of the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a payroll tax reduction, and most importantly, an extension of federal unemployment benefits for 13 months -- all aimed at helping working families and reviving the ailing economy. During the nineteenth consecutive month with an unemployment rate above nine percent, these concessions will, in the short-term, keep millions of families out of poverty. The long-term extension of unemployment benefits, in particular, represents a major advance: for the next 13 months, jobless Americans will no longer have to endure weeks without a lifeline due to legislative paralysis. These important provisions are welcome and necessary to meeting our nation's commitments to working families.
At the same time, this compromise cannot distract from the need to address urgent structural challenges. In this time of economic hardship, we should not be taking steps that reduce the government's ability to fulfill its responsibility to its citizens. We have long held that the core of a progressive tax system in which the wealthy shoulder a larger responsibility to help those in need was the fairest system and opposed the original Bush tax cuts for this reason. We therefore remain deeply concerned that by failing to return tax rates to the levels of the 1990s -- policies that led to a period of remarkable economic growth -- we will exacerbate our debt. This, in turn, will strain our ability to support working families and invest in the economy to help lift us out of the lingering effects of the recession.