Is Paul Ryan’s Budget ‘Un-Christian’?

Jesus believed in a tax rate of at least 50 percent. So how does Paul Ryan's budget proposal stand up?

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Brooks Kraft for TIME

Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan campaigns in Virginia on Aug. 11, 2012

Americans often tell pollsters they yearn for a return to the Christian principles on which the U.S. was founded. If so, they should take a closer look at the Mitt Romney–Paul Ryan ticket. Jesus’ teachings regarding wealth are nowhere to be found in Ryan’s budget proposal.

(MORE: Jon Meacham: Why the Ryan Pick Won’t Bring Clarity to the Budget Debate)

As near as we can tell, Jesus would advocate a tax rate somewhere between 50% (in the vein of “If you have two coats, give one to the man who has none”) and 100% (if you want to get into heaven, be poor). Mostly, he suggested giving all your money up for the benefit of others. And Jesus made no distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor; his love and generosity applied to all.

What about Ryan? Ryan hasn’t released his tax returns yet, so we don’t know what rate he pays. But under his budget plan, according to a recent analysis in the Atlantic, Romney would pay only 0.8% of his income in federal taxes. That’s right: in Ryan’s budget scenario, one of our wealthiest citizens would pay less than 1% of his income in taxes, or less than $200,000 from a taxable income of almost $22 million. When it comes to paying taxes, Ryan is Romney’s wing man.

Theologically informed individuals are beginning to weigh in on the ethics of Ryan’s budget plan. Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social-justice lobby, has called Ryan’s budget proposal “unpatriotic” and “immoral.” As she notes, Ryan’s budget “rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality … and the common good.” In a recent address at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Campbell observed that it’s the government’s responsibility to control society’s excesses. “In our culture of individualism,” she said, Catholic social teachings can “counter that individualism with a keen knowledge of solidarity.”

(MORE: Karen Hughes: Paul Ryan: An Inspired Choice That Says ‘We Can Fix This’)

Ryan’s proposed tax cuts for the rich would be shouldered by the working and middle classes. According to Forbes magazine, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center calculated that those earning more than $1 million would get an average tax reduction of more than $250,000, while 50% of people earning $20,000-$30,000 per year would get nothing. Put another way, under Ryan’s proposed tax plan, the after-tax incomes of the rich would grow by 12%; those of the poor would increase by less than 1%.

But it gets worse. The estimated $4.6 trillion increase in the national deficit over the next 10 years as a result of these tax cuts will be absorbed by cuts to programs that provide economic opportunity to working poor and middle class, such as Medicare and Food Stamps. Some might argue that freeing our wealthiest taxpayers to keep more of their own money will allow them to care for the poor privately and in their own way. Indeed, we have a long tradition of private philanthropy in the U.S., and religiously affiliated people are known to be generous — albeit mainly to their own churches. But no amount of private giving can compensate for such a massive breakdown in the government infrastructure that gives needy people a helping hand. As Campbell has noted, the many people receiving food stamps are not lazy ingrates but full-time employees struggling to make a livable wage and nearly half of all recipients are children.

(PHOTOS: Paul Ryan’s Life and Career in Photos)

We’ve heard a lot of Bible-based discussion in this election season, but if we are going to evaluate social policy using so-called Christian principles, why stop at abortion and insurance coverage for birth control? Jesus’ distaste for wealth is an uncomfortable reality that many Christians ignore at the ballot box. It’s one thing to lower taxes for rich people, but these plans actually hurt the poor. That’s not noblesse oblige; it’s cruelty.

MORE: Christakis: Why Birth Control Matters for the American Dream
260 comments
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GO_Romney_2012
GO_Romney_2012

The person who wrote this article is a blithering idiot.

From a strictly Biblical POV, Jesus followed the Jewish law perfectly, and the law said to tithe 10%. To Jews, pagans were unclean and Pagan Rome was evil, and Jesus certainly would not endore the Jews giving them halfof the fruits of  their labor.

And as for these so-called Catholic groups, I can say as a devout Catholic that they are false Catholics. They spread leftwing propoganda under the disguise of Catholicism. No real Catholic can vote for a Democrat.

Danejacob
Danejacob

This is the most completely ridiculous assumption I have ever read. How you possibly believe that you know exactly what Jesus advocates as far as 21st century taxation or what Jesus thinks in general? This is obviously the handywork of some writer trying to grab our attention with bible verses she googled that fit well with her completely preposterous assumption.

"Mostly, he suggested giving all your money up for the benefit of others."

Let me ask you this, does the above statement sound like someone who knows what they're talking about in a biblical sense? Should everyone just give there money to everyone else so that nobody has money? Should Paul Ryan instead (in compliance with this writers stance) propose that every American give all their money away to the government? Ahh Ya know what, might as well just make us communist, (more Jesus-like).

If you want to read about how foolish this article really is, this is a good read.

http://beforeitsnews.com/tea-p... 

Danejacob
Danejacob

This is the straight up dumbest assumption I have ever heard in my life, how can you possibly make these ridiculous assumptions that taxation is somehow even allowed biblically?  "Mostly, he suggested giving all your money up for the benefit of others" Let me ask you something, does the above statement sound like they know what they are talking about? Do you think  "Jesus believed in a tax rate of at least 50 percent?" Who are these people who believe that they can tell you what the word of god means in their own way, when they twist it so far out of the boundary into something they are trying to fit to support their argument?

Joshua Gayman
Joshua Gayman

where did you get that Jesus believed in a tax rate of 50% ?! Jesus said pay to Caesar what is Caesars, this does not mean he believed 50% tax rate, or any rate for that matter was the right thing, he simply states to not go against the government and not pay them the taxes..

bet0001970
bet0001970

Charity begins at home, not with the IRS. And certainly not with a wasteful government that is now taxing our grandchildren. This is the most arrogant pile of BS that I have read in a very long time. However, it's nice to know that some political hack at Time magazine has the authority to speak for Jesus. I'll call the Pope.

jlastc
jlastc

"Theologically informed individuals" know this whole article is a craptastic hit piece without scriptural or logical base. It assumes two fallacies: that the government is the extension of our personal will or church mission; and that government is incapable of reducing spending, merely increasing taxes on the wealthy to resolve problems.

First, the Bible is clear: if your brother is in need, YOU help him. You don't get the church to do it, or worse, the government to extort money from others to help him. That's foundational. Instead of nitpicking random quotes and spinning them for her own use, the writer might actually ask a Christian what things mean. This also belies the liberal belief in the separation of church and state. You want this connection only when you can use it to your statist aims. NOT going to work.

Second, our problems are the result of govt SPENDING, not taxation. The US govt must stop BORROWING AND SPENDING. That's what's raising our debt. Outright Confiscation of wealth won't solve our problems. Class warfare won't solve our problem. If you want more tax REVENUE, don't raise tax RATES, create a business environment where businesses EARN MORE, thus enabling them to pay more in taxes. Robbing the rich who already pay more than everyone else, isn't Christ-like.

Finally, Jesus said "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's. " That means, your spiritual act of service is to help others, but Caesar won't do it for you. He made a clear distinction. But Jesus also knew Caesar's money belongs to Caesar. WE know that OUR money belongs to US. WE the PEOPLE earn the money. The government doesn't bestow it on us. It's functions are circumscribed. It has no RIGHT to our money more than its stated powers, so stop pretending you're giving the wealthy "tax cuts". All you're doing is not STEALING more than necessary to get the job done. Obviously, you liberals know as much about scripture as economics. That is, you have NO idea what you're talking about.

MVKaz
MVKaz

Great article, Erika!  I'm looking forward to your next article which looks at whether Paul Ryan's budget is un-Islamic, followed by another on whether it is un-Hindu, and then un-Jewish and so on. 

Robbins Mitchell
Robbins Mitchell

Well,when it comes to Christian principles,Erika clearly doesn't know her stinky little reactionary pussy from a good sized hole in the ground...not to mention the fact that by presuming to suggest that she knows what the Lord would say about contemporary political questions,she is a blatant blasphemer....Jesus never came close to suggesting that His followers rely on or depend on the government of Rome to take care of them...or to take care of their fellow man...he entreated them to take care of and watch out for each other...this is the essence of true Christian charity....NOT being coerced out of our money at the point of a gun by a class of government pissants and calling it "compassion"...but if you happen to be a Bibically illiterate little twat like Erika,you never let the facts get in the way of sleazy smear job..Eriks's problem is that she is so naive that she doesn't know the difference between authentic Christianity and "social justice" collectivists posing as Christians in order to gradually drain us of our liberties  and our cash in the name of "fairness" and "compassion"...go douche it out,Erika...from here it smells like a bus station toilet

Brightmeadows
Brightmeadows

Jesus would never condone abortion which is what our current President, our current Caesar does.  

ChowT
ChowT

R and R = cut , cut and more cuts.

More cuts in taxes  for the 1% and more cuts in welfare for the 99%.

DrJack Ryan
DrJack Ryan

 Idiot, you know nothing of economics and finance.

ChowT
ChowT

R and R = economic segregation just like in the olden days.

DrJack Ryan
DrJack Ryan

 Idiot, you know nothing of economics and finance.

ChowT
ChowT

I must apologise that I know nothing how George Bush crashed the financial system of America until it is like Armaggedden.

But I know for a fact that Obama did a good job saving America.

DrJack Ryan
DrJack Ryan

 Not so. False talking points. You lie.

jeannie
jeannie

you know nothing about Christianity--the 2 coats quote was form john the baptist-luke 3:11--it is for other people to give to the poor he never asked the gov. to do it--2nd quote was for the rich ruler-the point was for him to follow Christ and not put all his love into his wealth--and since when do libs quote the Bible?!? i thought there was a separation between church and your politics wanting to be secular and all--quit being two-faced stick to you apostate thinking

George Keiser
George Keiser

If you have two coats, give one to the government who will give it to the poor.  Really.  We promise it'll get back to the poor.  Just let us take care of it. You won't ever have to deal with those icky poor people personally ever again.

Government support structures should exist, but they don't exist for the purpose of being a primary means of charity or a replacement for voluntary charity.  True charity must be voluntary and involve personal relationship with those in need.  True Christian charity is about more than just sharing material wealth.  So, no.  I don't think Jesus would support the type of "tax for charity" implied in this post.

Bernard_Gui
Bernard_Gui

Giving freely of yourself and of your resources to others is true charity.

Taking from another by force, keeping a portion for yourself, and giving

a smaller portion to the poor is simply thievery.

cbsh30
cbsh30

While we're cherry picking Bible verses, what about Romans 13:8, "Owe no man anything ..." yet the national debt continues to climb.  What about the principle of tithing in Malachi?  Does the current administration tithe?

In the Bible, when Jesus said if you have two coats take one and give it away or it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, He IS NOT talking about tax rates.  Jesus is speaking of charity and compassion found in true Christians.  Taxing my income is not charity.  

I work with one of the most stingiest guys around.  Pays his taxes, hoards money into his bank account and won't donate a few bucks to any charity.  Does this sound like the Christian way?? No, the Bible states that the love of money is the root of all evil.  It doesn't say the money is the root of all evil ... the LOVE of it is.  I can pay my taxes (even if the rate is 50%) and still be in love with my money ... my idol before God.  However, if I follow the Biblical principle and give to the poor, then I'm showing Christ's love -- the true love.

If you're going to take verses from the Bible, then at least use them in the right context or don't do it at all.

DrJack Ryan
DrJack Ryan

Nothing violates the leftwing's socialist argument of "separation of

church and state" than to use the teachings of Jesus/Christianity to make and argument about taxes, as Erika is doing here, about

helping the poor to push for more and more government sponsored

taxpayer funded welfare to help the poor. The left accuses the rightwing

of “codifying” Christianity to create a theoracy. Nothing could be further from the truth as I just demonstrated. It looks as if Erika is trying to justify "codifying" tax law with the Bible. Hypocrisy to the Nth degree. It is the Christians/Body of Christ and YOUR responsibility, not the taxpayers. Charity comes from the heart (liberals should know this), not Congressional force via taxes and a gov't agency

by force (don't believe me, then contact the IRS. They are relentlessly

brutal) taxpayers money out of their pocket. Jesus in no way ordained

gov't sanctioned welfare. There is no scriptural basis to support this just as there is not scriptural basis to support your argument of 50% tax rate or the 100% rate. Idiotic.

ChowT
ChowT

Charity does indeed comes from the heart.

Never mind. We cant control the heart.

How about paying your fair share of taxes?

DrJack Ryan
DrJack Ryan

 Still, it comes from the heart and nothing can change that. there are many, many wealthy people who give to charities and PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE; if you give grudgingly, then what is the point to giving? The top half of taxpayers ARE paying their fair share in federal income tax. Don't believe me...then contact the IRS.

DrJack Ryan
DrJack Ryan

 No ChowT:not all in the bottom half are below poverty line. You know nothing of taxes. I have enough professional tax experience to know you are spewing falsehoods. True, a small number in that lower half are skilled, high income, sometimes a small business; i.e. Sole Proprietor who files taxes on 1040/Sch C, i.e. pass through entity. Gross receipts minus business expenses = net income, which is what taxes are paid on. Sometimes expense and LOSSES( thanks obamarx) are great enough that little or no taxes are paid. However, the majority of the "slaves" that you snarkingly suggest are either hs dropouts; done poorly in hs and can't get a job or have a criminal record. According to the FBI, 80% of incarcerated are hs dropouts. In the District of Columbia, there is a 57% hs dropout rate...that is your "slaves" you falsely claim.

ChowT
ChowT

The fact the the bottom half are not taxed suggest that they are below poverty line. And they are slaves working for a pittance.

DrJack Ryan
DrJack Ryan

Erika: you have it all backwards.  First of all, the taking your cloak argument concerns lawsuits and

taking someone to court. Nothing about taxes. You might want to get your

Biblical facts straight. Read:

http://bible.cc/matthew/5-40.h...

cbsh30
cbsh30

An elderly lady in our Sunday School class said it best a few weeks ago.  She said that we have all the options to become educated -- colleges for bachelors/master's/doctorate degrees, the internet and libraries for unlimited research, intelligent people to talk to -- that we have became educated fools.  We have lost track of the true knowledge ...

This article is a prime example.

ChowT
ChowT

Barely legal but legal//Goldman Sachs selling bonds designed to fail.

girlofliberty
girlofliberty

I don't see anyone saying we need a society without government, just less government. How is being disgruntled that 51% of Americans get some handout suggesting that we get rid of all government? Because we don't shut up and let everyone who wants something from our tax dollars reach in our pockets without crying thief , you then say we are against societies with government. No Hardin j. Just against how far this united states government has stepped over its boundaries. Government was meant to protect broad liberties not send ebt cards so people can buy anything they please with it. I would like to get a poll of how many welfare recipients own cell phones and big screen tv's. Your argument is poor.

ChowT
ChowT

Please elaborate further.

Tom Wantto
Tom Wantto

Now that Erika has found God and Christianity I am eagerly awaiting her next column condemning abortion.

Kerry Schiess
Kerry Schiess

Using the assumption of this writer the tax code should give 100% tax credit not tax deduction for charitable giving.  Obama is the ONE who wants to stop charity donations from being used to offset taxes. Liberals want to get credit for giving away other people's money to secure their lust for power. What would Jesus say about that?

ChowT
ChowT

Do you believe in Jesus?

s_c_f
s_c_f

There is a profound difference between "giving" and "taxes".  Once the transfer of money is forced, most if not all benefits are gone. There is no choice or free will in taxes, and it's the voluntary contribution of giving that is important in Jesus' teachings.

Jesus never advocated "taking" for the benefit of others.  That's what taxes are.  There is no giving in the equation.  It's taking from some people to transfer to others. You cannot give something you never owned to begin with, and you cannot call taxes giving when you have no choice how much is taken, nor can you choose where they are going (goodness knows most of them are not going to the poor).

In fact, there's a bit about "taking" in the ten commandments.  "Do not steal".

ChowT
ChowT

Interesting, tell me more ...

delahaya
delahaya

This article is so out of wack its pathetic.  Time and Erika should be ashamed.  That she conflates government taxation and spending as the same thing as charity is just intellectual laziness...or dishonesty.  I would also point out that study after study shows conservatives, especially Christians, give significantly more to charity than liberals - even discounting tithing.  Jesus' ministry was ALL about the choice and action of the individual, not the state.  People become Christians, nations don't.  Jesus entire ministry was aimed at explaining and establishing the heavenly kingdom, not establishing an earthly one.  So much so that the anti-Roman zealots of the day were greatly disappointed.

Unfortunately, collectivists like Erika literally can't understand individualism and private action, it is just not something they can comprehend.  To them, the state IS God, the end-all and be-all of life.

Lastly, to think that Jesus was was advocating a large, totalitarian government that stamps out voluntary prayer, kills the dignity of the individual (made in the image of God), supports abortion and homosexuality, and is full of lies and deceit is preposterous.

ChowT
ChowT

Is there Jesus in wall street?

marcthepig
marcthepig

Jesus believed in helping those less fortunate and less able to help themselves.  Being a Christian is about voluntarily helping others, not having your income taxed and forcefully redistributed by the state. Did Nancy Pelosi bite this one on the neck too? It would appear so because she sounds just like another bats**t crazy liberal.

ChowT
ChowT

What about Mitt Romney?

Swiftright Right
Swiftright Right

Reading these post largely confirms what most of the rest of the world is saying. Americans are the worst Christians ever.

We're going to be judged in the not to distant future and its not going to be pretty.

ChowT
ChowT

20 years ago I saw the rot coming.

Daniel R Victor
Daniel R Victor

Jesus never proposed 50% Tax "Render unto Caesar that which is Ceaser's, and render unto God that which belongs to God' - Jesus Christ

Beware of those wolves (Erika Christakis)  in sheep clothing who twist bible verses to fit their narrow political agenda!  DANIEL VICTOR

 

ChowT
ChowT

Neither did Jesus propose that the rich will be tax at 13 %.

Daniel R Victor
Daniel R Victor

Jesus never proposed 50% Tax "Render unto Caesar that which is Ceaser's, and render unto God that which belongs to God' - Jesus Christ

Beware of those wolves (Erika Christakis)  in sheep clothing who twist bible verses to fit their narrow political agenda! DANIEL VICTOR

Tadner
Tadner

Ms. Christakis,

In this case, you assembled a bunch of words and demonstrated that you are ignorant of the subject. But please keep trying... laughter is good medicine.

Mark Hoffman
Mark Hoffman

Well Erika, as usual, you and the rest of the liberal dems get Christianity all wrong.  Remember "you all" asked God to leave the schools and just about every other social setting in our country.  It's no wonder you have no clue.  When Jesus said what you quoted, He didn't say give it to the government, so THEY can give it to the poor.  He said YOU give it to the poor, NO GOVERNMENT intervention. Got it?  So indeed Ryan's plan is like what Jesus said.  I suggest you look at the charitable giving of your Demo ticket versus the charitable giving of the Republican ticket.  Christians give from what they can/could use themselves.  That's why it's called sacrificial giving.  You're so lame!  Jesus knew the leaders of the day were corrupt.  They were already stealing from the people.  That's why Jesus never directed anyone to expect anything from the government.  WE individuals were/are to give from what we have, directly to the poor, but you wouldn't understand.  I've learned I cannot outgive God. By the way, God's word also says, "If a man will not work, he shall not eat". II Thess 3:10.  

ChowT
ChowT

Ryan ???????

Ryan is just another R and R.

ChowT
ChowT

When Mitt Romney sacked all those poor workers, how can they work?