Tuesday, October 28, 2008
There's been a lot of blogging on MoJ about abortion during this campaign season (for good reason), but tax policy has not gotten a lot of attention. Obviously, faithful Catholics can disagree about what sort of tax policy best promotes the common good. However, some of John McCain's and Sarah Palin's recent statements about taxes seem to be in a bit of tension with Catholic teaching. Both have categorically condemned Obama for wanting to "redistribute wealth" or for wanting to "redistribute your hard-earned money." I don't have any reason to think that McCain actually believes what he's saying. He's smart enough to know that our current tax system involves a significant amount of redistribution, and I don't see how any of his proposed policies will change its fundamental nature. (E.g., isn't his proposed mortgage rescue plan a radical redistribution of wealth?) But his rhetoric is not harmless. His crowds are booing the very suggestion that a just society will rely, at least in part, on progressive taxation in order to help provide for the less fortunate. To be sure, it would be perfectly reasonable -- and consistent with Catholic social teaching -- for McCain to challenge the wisdom of Obama's proposed tax increases. Recently, though, he also seems to be challenging a key premise of Church teaching on economic justice.