Use these discussion questions and host a forum where members of your congregation can learn about and discuss these issues.
Consider four options for reducing the deficit:
- Raise taxes on wealthy households and corporations
- Make further cuts in non-military discretionary spending
- Cut military spending
- Cut spending for the major entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
1. Consider each of these options. What would be the benefits or potential harm if Congress chose to reduce the deficit in this way?
2. Inequality has been growing in the United States. For example, over the past 40 years, incomes for the top 1% of tax payers (those with incomes over $368,000) have skyrocketed while average income among the bottom 90% has declined. Do higher-income households have a responsibility to pay more in taxes? By how much should their taxes be raised (a little, a moderate amount, a lot)?
3. Corporations are also paying less in taxes (as a share of their profits) compared with previous decades. You may have read about large, profitable corporations that pay no taxes. What should be done? Is it more important to give tax breaks to strengthen corporations, or should all corporations be required to pay at least some taxes?
4. What about military spending: Military spending has risen by over 50% in the last decade. Should the military have a “blank check” and, for the most part, get what it asks for? What about homeland security – are we spending too much or is our safety worth any price? At this time, does the United States need to realize we cannot afford to fight multiple wars and police the world? How should we reduce spending for the military and homeland security?
5. How important is non-military discretionary spending that pays for things like safety net programs, subsidized housing, the environment, judicial system, prisons, food safety, transportation, the national parks, and many other programs. In these tough times, can we afford these things? How important are these? Would you be willing to pay higher taxes to keep these programs strong?
6. For what kinds of federal government programs would you be willing to pay higher taxes: the military, non-military programs, Social Security, Medicare?
7. How should Congress reduce the deficit – how would you do it?
The budget decisions made by Congress will have large impacts on the country for years to come. Get informed. Act.