This pandemic has stretched so many individuals and families to their breaking point, with unemployment numbers climbing, millions of people seeing their hours, wages, and health care cut, becoming food insecure, and entering into homelessness. Many people were already struggling to make ends meet before Covid-19. Many parents are worried about the economic future for their children and many seniors are frightened that their life savings are evaporating. The pandemic and economic hardship has particularly hit hard Black and Latino Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and single parent families.
With structural weaknesses, inequalities in place, and a vanishing middle class, better education and job training for a 21st century economy will be necessary so that people will have the tools, choices, and freedom to advance without having to bear the burden of accumulated debt.
Caring for the needy, hungry, homeless, and most vulnerable is a core Jewish value and comports with the Biden-Harris ticket’s values and policy guidelines.
The following are a few examples of ancient Jewish text mandating the community’s responsibility to care for the poor, hungry, and homeless followed by Biden-Harris policy platform highlights.
“If… there are needy [people] among you, … do not harden your heart and shut your hand against [them]. Rather, you must open your hand and lend them sufficient for what they lack, … Beware lest you harbor the base thought … so that you are mean … and give nothing. They will cry out to God against you, and you will incur guilt. Give them readily and have no regrets when you do so,… there will never cease to be needy ones in your land.” –Deuteronomy 15: 7-11 – Israel, 7th century BCE
“‘Sufficient for what a person lacks’– this is a house. ‘What is lacking’– this is a bed and table.” –Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 67b – Babylon, 500 CE
“… this is the fast I desire: to loosen the fetters of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? It is to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the poor that are cast out to your house; when you see the naked, cover them, and do not ignore your brethren.” –Isaiah 58:6-7 – Israel, 8th century BCE
“How much is it appropriate to give to the poor? ‘Sufficient for their needs in that which they lacks.’ If they are hungry, you must feed them. If they need clothing, you must clothe them..” –Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh Deah 250.1 – Israel, 16th century CE
ECONOMIC JUSTICE – BIDEN-HARRIS POLICY PLATFORM
Expanding Home Ownership, Biden-Harris will seek to
- Invest $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs
- End redlining and other discriminatory and unfair practices in the housing market
- Provide financial assistance to help hard-working Americans buy or rent safe, quality housing, including down payment assistance through a refundable and advanceable tax credit and fully funding federal rental assistance
- Increase the supply, lower the cost, and improve the quality of housing through investments in resilience, energy efficiency, and accessibility of homes
- Pursue a comprehensive approach to ending homelessness
Targeting the Wealthy and Corporations with Tax increases, Biden-Harris will seek to
- Raise income tax rates from the wealthiest Americans and corporations
- Raise the top income tax rate back to 39.6% from 37%
- Tax capital gains and dividends at ordinary rates for those with annual incomes over $1 million
- Tax unrealized capital gains at death
- Apply Social Security payroll tax for those earning over $400,000 a year
- Close stepped-up basis loophole
- Raise top corporate income tax rate to 28% from 21%
- Impose 15% minimum tax on book income of large companies (at least $100 million annual net income)
- Tax profits earned from foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms 21%
Reducing Student Debt, Biden-Harris will seek to
- Forgive all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt of those who make up to $125,000 and attended two- and four-year public colleges and universities, historically black colleges and universities and underfunded minority-serving institutions
- Cancel a minimum of $10,000 of student debt per person
- Forgive the remainder of loans after 20 years with no tax burden
- Suspend monthly payments and interest of those earning less than $25,000 per year
- Cap payments at 5% of discretionary income for the rest
- Forgive federal loans of up to $50,000 over five years for those who participate in public service
Raising the Minimum wage, Biden-Harris will seek to
- Raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour
Building and Expanding the Nation’s Infrastructure, Biden-Harris will seek to
- Spend $1.3 trillion on infrastructure over a decade. This includes $50 billion in his first year in office on repairing roads, highways and bridges, $20 billion on rural broadband infrastructure, $400 billion over 10 years on a federal new agency to conduct clean energy research and innovation, $5 billion over five years on electric car battery technology and $10 billion over 10 years on transit projects that serve high-poverty areas.
Supporting Rural America, Biden-Harris will seek to
- Fight for fair trade deals
- Invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure
- Create low-carbon manufacturing jobs
- Reinvest in agricultural research
- Improving access to federal resources and funds for farming or small businesses
- Expand health services and medical training programs
- Spend 10% of federal program funding in areas with persistent poverty
See the Biden-Harris economic plan at https://www.investopedia.com/joe-biden-s-economic-plan-save-the-middle-class-4769869
Note: In the weeks leading up to the November election, I am posting relevant Jewish texts articulating Jewish values and principles as applied to the significant challenges facing America along with the policies of the Biden-Harris ticket that comport with those Jewish values. I do so as one of hundreds of “Rabbis for Biden” who believe that the Trump-Pence Administration is threatening our democratic system of government and democratic norms, the U.S. Constitution, Jewish moral values and ethical principles, and America’s preeminent standing as a respected world leader.
I ask you to consider distributing these blogs to anyone who is interested in what the vast majority of liberal American Jews believe (according to all polls) to Democrats, Independents, lapsed Republicans, Never Trump Republicans, and people who do not like Trump but are not yet convinced to support the Biden-Harris ticket, especially those living in the states identified by the Democratic presidential campaign where the closest results will likely occur: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
I ask that you especially distribute these blogs to young potential voters who historically turn out in smaller numbers relative to their percentage of the population. Ask them to vote not only for the Biden-Harris ticket but for Democratic Senate, House, state, and local candidates.
Nothing is more important than getting out the vote and winning the above states and the Electoral College. Though Joe Biden will likely win the popular vote by millions of votes, he may yet lose the Electoral College and the election. Therefore, he must win by huge numbers in the above states. Everyone should be encouraged to vote early unless you are willing to stand in line at polling places despite the health risks.