Category Archives: Taxes

Email Your Representative: Tell Them You Want the Inflation Reduction Act to Pass

TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE: PASS THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT

Tell the House to Pass the Inflation Reduction Act

Together, we’ve advocated for years for federal legislation that prioritizes the interests of people (families, those with lower incomes, workers, seniors, and children) over corporations. The Senate-passed Inflation Reduction Act will lower the cost of prescription drugs, health insurance, and everyday energy costs, and force the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Now the House must pass take action so President Biden can sign it into law.

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Email Your Senators to Pass the Inflation Reduction Act

TELL YOUR SENATORS: PASS THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT

Pass the Inflation Reduction ActThe Inflation Reduction Act addresses injustice and harm facing our economy, people, and the planet. NETWORK applauds the Senate Democratic majority for negotiating legislation that lowers prescription drug prices, addresses climate change, and closes tax loopholes that big corporations and the wealthy take advantage of to avoid contributing fairly to our shared economy. Opponents of this historic legislation neglect to share that the Inflation Reduction Act is expected to reduce the deficit by $300 billion.

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New Agreement Would Advance Healthcare, Tax Justice, and Climate Protections

New Agreement Would Advance Healthcare, Tax Justice, and Climate Protections

Laura Peralta-Schulte
August 1, 2022

On Wednesday, July 27, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) issued a joint statement announcing an agreement on moving the fiscal year 2022 budget reconciliation process forward. This announcement was welcome after months of ups and downs in Senate negotiations since the House passed its budget reconciliation package last fall.

This new bill—the Inflation Reduction Act—addresses tax reform, prescription drug reform and healthcare costs, as well as climate change. If passed, this bill would be a huge accomplishment by beginning to require the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, while tackling the long-standing crises of healthcare costs and climate change.

Key tax provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act include:

  • $313 billion in revenue raised from a 15% corporate minimum tax. This is critical to ensure that wealthy corporations pay taxes.
  • $124 billion in revenue raised from better IRS tax enforcement. This provides the IRS with money to improve customer service systems as well as ensuring the wealthy pay what they owe.
  • $14 billion in revenue raised from closing the carried interest loophole.

Key healthcare provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act include:

  • Prescription Drug Pricing: The legislation empowers Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices directly, ensuring that seniors get better deals on their medications, and caps Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for drugs at $2,000 per year.
  • ACA Premium Tax Credits: The Inflation Reduction Act extends enhanced Affordable Care Act premium tax credits for the next three years to enable working families and individuals support to pay for insurance through the exchange.

Key climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act include:

  • Incentives for Consumers to Go Green: The legislation provides money for home energy rebates, consumer tax credits for energy-efficient homes and vehicles, and grants to make affordable housing more energy efficient. These measures would help reduce energy costs for families by more than 10% on average.

Unfortunately, this package leaves out high-level policy priorities for us at NETWORK including Medicaid expansion, paid leave, funding for affordable housing, expanding the Child Tax Credit, and more. However, given the political and time constraints, this bill will do a lot to advance economic justice and address other problems in healthcare and climate.

No Republican Senators support this bill, and one Senator, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), is the only Democratic member who has not yet expressed her full support for the bill. Democrats need all 50 members of their caucus to vote “yes” to pass the legislation. Senate Democratic leadership is planning a vote on this package later this week.

Sign the Petition to Lament the Loss of Transformative Policy

Sign the Petition to Lament the Loss of Transformative Policy

We suffer when Congress fails to address the crises facing people and our planet

President Biden’s ‘Build Back Better Act’ would have reversed 40 years of trickle-down tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, provided funds for healthcare, eased financial barriers to childcare and early education, invested in wildfire prevention and drought relief efforts, and more. The House passed the BBB plan, but the Senate did not.

Instead of taking moral action, the Senate prioritized the wealthy and corporations over the people and communities that would have benefited from the jobs and equitable access to life-giving resources that the transformative legislation would have provided.

Who would have benefited from BBB? Working people, school-aged children, Black and Brown people, tax payers, rural communities, the climate and ecological concerns, Tribal lands and citizens, college students, immigrants…all of us. Congress is in the final days of budget reconciliation negotiations for less impactful, piecemeal solutions as an alternative to BBB.

We lament the investments in affordable housing, support for children and families, and efforts to combat climate change missing from the budget reconciliation package. It is shameful that our country will suffer as a result of Congress’s moral failure. Join your lament with ours and sign the petition to lament the loss of transformative policy.

We invite you to sign our petition

Billionaires: Buying Our Democracy to Line Their Pockets and Empty Ours

Billionaires: Buying Our Democracy to Line Their Pockets and Empty Ours

Christian Watkins
July 22, 2022

Last week, an unknown sum of dark money paid every Republican Senator and one Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, to kill the trillion-dollar investment and tax plan Democrats have been working on for a year. The plan, which you might have originally known as the Build Back Better Agenda, was remodeled as the Budget Reconciliation Plan.  

Budget Reconciliation, a version of which passed the House in November 2021, would have started to reverse 40 years of trickle-down tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Dozens of billion-dollar corporations – like Amazon, Starbucks, and Netflix who now pay little to no federal income taxes, would have been required to pay at least a 15% minimum tax so they would pay into the U.S. economy like the rest of us. 

Taxing the ultra-wealthy would provide federal funds for policy measures that folks in the United States not only need, but want. Potential policies that would benefit the country include: more affordable health care, climate change mitigation, and reduced household energy costs. 

Dark money and corporate donors used their influence (money!) to flood Congress with messages that benefited them, but drowned out the voice of the people. 

The Constitutional declaration, We The People, should be the driving force that motivates legislators, not corporate interests. We need to get the out-sized influence of dark money and corporate dollars out of politics to heal our democracy. There are responsible Congresspersons who recognize the need for federal reform, and they have created bills that provide solutions.   

The John R Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R.5746 S.4) and The For the People Act (S. 1) are ready for debate and a vote. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act corrects the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decisions that diluted the safeguards of Voting Rights Act and dismantles new barriers to voting and election integrity put into place by 19 state legislatures. Chief Justice Roberts said Congress needs to act or else states are sovereign on election law.  Returning election law to the state level would again allow for state legislatures to combine already in place redlining tactics with voter suppression and disenfranchise Black and Brown voters. This country is not a collection of sovereign states, so we need federal standards for elections.  

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R. 5746 S. 4) would establish guidelines for elections, like: times, appropriate locations for in-person voting, and rules for early voting boxes, etc.).  The For the People Act, is transformative legislation that ensures clean and fair elections by reducing or eliminating the influence of big money, dark money, and foreign money in politics. S.1 also calls for easier voting access.  For example, States would register new voters on election day for federal elections and establish independent (i.e., non-partisan) redistricting commissions to reduce partisan gerrymandering. 

S.1 would strengthen the ethics and financial disclosure requirements for the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and Federal officers and employees. One way this will be done is by prohibiting congresspersons from serving on the boards of for-profit entities. 

Is it no wonder why corporate special interests have rallied to oppose these bills! They want to continue to carry on with the status quo – and use money to influence Congressional decision-making.  We can work around them! If Senators committed to the preservation of “We The People” carve out filibuster exceptions similar to the ones that they have done for Budget Reconciliation measures, Federal executive nominations approvals, and Supreme Court Nominations, then significant action can be taken to protect our democracy.  

Our faith and sacred documents give us much needed guidance about our role in the body politic.  

The Bible says, 

“There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Cor. 12:25-27).”  

And, Catholic Social Justice tradition and the Catholic Catechism dictates that democratic participation in our communities is both a right and a responsibility and each person must be equipped with the proper resources. As a United Methodist minister, I also find guidance from our founder John Wesley who said, “there is no holiness without social holiness.” Taken together with NETWORK’s Build Anew agenda, we are well-equipped for this righteous cause. I pray you’ll dig deep this year and call on your friends and families to do the same! 

We are at a critical time in our country, so contact your Senators now and demand that they work to save our democracy by suspending the filibuster and passing election reform bills. 

President Biden in front of a microphone

Centering Solidarity and Healing for Our Democracy

Centering Solidarity and Healing for Our Democracy

A Response to President Biden’s 2022 State of the Union
Mary J. Novak
March 3, 2022

President Biden in front of a microphoneIn his 2022 State of the Union, President Joe Biden addressed people across the country who are anxious and weary as Vladimir Putin threatens the use of nuclear force in his quest for more power and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shatter a sense of normalcy, claiming close to one million lives in this country alone. President Biden named the pain felt by families and recommitted himself to supporting policies that benefit all families and communities. This vision is grounded in his faith, which prioritizes community and solidarity over individualism and greed. He illuminated a path forward for our national community, marked by dismantling long-standing racist policies and building both a vibrant economy that prioritizes shared prosperity and a truly representative, multi-racial democracy.

Shaping an Economy Rooted in Solidarity

In this time of increasing economic stratification, President Biden spoke forcefully about the need to reorient our economy with a new economic vision built on respecting and protecting the rights of workers and putting people over profits. Given rising costs facing families, his statement: “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation” likely resonated with many listeners. We know that ensuring jobs pay a living wage is one of the most effective ways we can uphold the dignity of work. I appreciated hearing the President’s call to raise the minimum wage and for the Senate to pass the PRO Act to protect workers’ right to unionize.

Building Anew and Protecting the Sacred Right to Vote

President Biden’s commitments to advancing just policies in NETWORK’s Build Anew policy areas are deeply rooted in the faith values of solidarity, community, respecting the rights of workers, and caring for creation; they include strengthening our democracy and voting rights; making our tax code more just; and, investing in communities by expanding the Child Tax Credit, affordable housing, and healthcare for all. NETWORK strongly supports these efforts to build a more justice union and looks forward to partnering with the Biden administration to achieve these goals. Together, we still have a great amount of work to be done, including passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, but we know it is possible by working together.

Confirming a New Supreme Court Justice

Another important step for protecting the rights of everyone in our county will be the Senate voting to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court Justice. The NETWORK community celebrates Judge Jackson’s nomination and the perspective she will bring to the highest court because of her years of service on the federal district court of D.C. and D.C. Circuit as well as her formative service as a public defender.

Defending the Lives of Immigrants and Asylum Seekers

While we commend President Biden clear commitments to advancing just policies for our economy and democracy, we continue to call on the President to be bold in his defense of asylum seekers at our nation’s Southern border. The President was mindful in his speech about the importance of welcoming refugees fleeing Ukraine. Likewise, we call on the President to meet that mission here. Pope Francis has said each person seeking refuge “has a name, a face and a story, as well as an inalienable right to live in peace and to aspire to a better future.” We ask President Biden to take heed of those words and end the cruel and unjust policies that he is perpetuating at the border, and end detention and deportation.

President Biden, our nation’s second Catholic President, often credits the Jesuits and Catholic Sisters with keeping his faith strong. The vision he laid out in his State of the Union reflects a roadmap to rebuilding solidarity, based in encounter. As President Biden said “We can’t change how divided we’ve been. But we can change how we move forward—on COVID-19 and other issues we must face together.”  If we want to rebuild the soul of the nation, we must rebuild it together, with a broad embrace of our human family.

A Catholic President at One Year

A Catholic President at One Year

Mary J. Novak
January 20, 2022

In January 2021, NETWORK celebrated the historic inauguration of the United States’ second Catholic President and first female Vice President “heartened by the administration’s focus on racial equity and economic justice.” Let us take a closer look at how their leadership has lived up to our values of Catholic Social Justice.

The first year of the Biden administration has largely been a series of responses to the crises that surfaced during the previous administration. These included the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, racist policies enacted at the U.S.-Mexico border, and growing distrust in our elections, which has led to the passage of restrictive voting legislation across the country.

In March 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan – a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package – into law. It provided relief to families in the form of healthcare, rental assistance, housing vouchers, access to food programs, and other benefits. It also expanded Child Tax Credit payments and made the credit fully refundable, meaning that families most struggling from poverty had access to monthly payments of cash through December of last year.

The expansion of the Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan was an incredible achievement, providing millions of families funds that they used for necessities including housing, food, clothing, utilities, and education, and living up to NETWORK’s values of supporting families’ economic security. However, if the credit’s refundability is allowed to expire this March, 65 million kids will pay the price.

The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act last November – with its investments in broadband internet, climate-friendly public transit, and clean water –  was an important step toward building our country anew. Unfortunately, the Build Back Better Act – the administration’s landmark proposal to invest our nation’s families and communities – has stalled in the Senate. So have efforts to protect voting rights, which President Biden said should be passed even if it required a Senate rules change in the form of altering or eliminating the filibuster. Given the filibuster’s racist history, NETWORK fully supports this call.

A major disappointment for the NETWORK community has been President Biden’s failure to roll back the previous administration’s cruel and xenophobic border policies: the Migrant Protection Protocols and the misuse of Title 42. Under these measures and in violation of international law, asylum seekers are either expelled from the U.S. without being allowed to claim asylum or being turned away and told to wait in Mexico while they await their pending court dates. Both of these policies are resulting in assaults and significant harm against our siblings seeking asylum.

In solidarity with migrant-led organizations, President Biden’s continuation of these unjust border policies brought over 80 Catholic Sisters to Washington in early December to process prayerfully past the White House to protest these policies. In 2022, President Biden must significantly shift his administration’s border policies to align with our faith teaching to “love our neighbor.”

Every year of our 50-year existence, NETWORK has analyzed the voting records of Members of Congress, but we have never reflected on one year of a Catholic president’s administration. This is certainly a significant milestone for Catholic justice-seekers, even as the lived reality has included both progress and setbacks for our justice agenda.

President Biden has credited Jesuits and Catholic Sisters with keeping him Catholic, and he has taken office at a time when the vision of a Jesuit – Pope Francis – and the witness of Catholic Sisters offer him a roadmap to rebuilding solidarity, based in encounter. NETWORK advocates for policies that center people who have been pushed to the margins by our systems and structures. And Pope Francis calls us, individually and at the structural level, to seek out, encounter, and integrate those living on the periphery.

Joe Biden is the son of a working class Catholic family who prides himself on remembering his roots. The clear moral measure for his administration going forward is whether it has prioritized the struggles of individuals and families over powerful interests, whether at the border, the ballot box, or simply their day-to-day efforts to stay safe and healthy.

Transforming our politics from a system that upholds the status quo to one that honors the dignity of every person requires dismantling systemic racism, cultivating inclusive communities, and rooting our economy in solidarity. One year into the Biden administration, we can see with greater clarity than ever just how daunting these challenges are and how much work we have to do. We call on President Biden to join us in this necessary transformation.

Advent 2021: Celebrate the Alleviation of Child Poverty

Advent 2021: Celebrate the Alleviation of Child Poverty

Sister Eilis McCulloh, HM
December 10, 2021

The Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete “rejoice” Sunday – pink candle) symbolizes Joy with the “Shepherd’s Candle” reminding us of the Joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus. As part of NETWORK’s ongoing Advent reflection series, Sr. Eilis McCulloh, HM, NETWORK Grassroots Mobilization Fellow, shares how cutting child poverty via federal policy is one cause for rejoicing this year:

This Advent, Celebrate the Alleviation of Child Poverty

At Christmas, God appears to us as a defenseless child. In the U.S., child poverty threatens millions of children. Children are a source of joy, hope, and renewal in every life they touch. Their existence should not be marked by such suffering, and as followers of Jesus, we should answer their cry with action. Happily, in March of this year, that’s exactly what happened.

The American Rescue Plan of 2021, which NETWORK supported, made the Child Tax Credit fully refundable, meaning families who qualified for the credit have received direct payments from the government rather than having the amount counted toward their taxes at the end of the year. Those payments have reduced child poverty in the U.S. by 40 percent! The majority of the children who benefitted are children of color.

We know that the Child Tax Credit has brought stability to children whose lives have been rocked by instability, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the direct payments, families have been able to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and pay utility bills and, as a result, their children are able to focus more fully on school. This has the power to affect an entire generation of children.

As NETWORK prepares to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our founding, we can look to this success as an example of the vision that animated the Catholic Sisters who gathered in Washington one cold December weekend with a vision of politics transformed by the belief that the federal government can create legislation that serves the common good. Half a century later, Pope Francis shares this vision, writing in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti that politics are “a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity.”

NETWORK will always seek this highest form of charity – better translated as love – such as in our continued lobbying for the Build Back Better bill and its provisions that will serve families, such as the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit and the four weeks of paid family leave and medical leave. This Advent, let us prepare for the arrival of Jesus by making our country a more hospitable place for all children. That’s something worth celebrating!

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