November 28, 2017, St. Luke’s Cathedral, Portland

FPL/MCC Press Conference

November 28, 2017, St. Luke’s Cathedral, Portland

Rev. Jane Field, Executive Director, Maine Council of Churches:

The Maine Council of Churches has nine member-denominations representing 550 local congregations all across our state.  While there are significant differences among these communities of faith, there is a generous expanse of common ground on which we stand together, common ground where our shared roots of Hebrew and Christian scripture run deep, and where we join hands in a shared commitment to build a culture of compassion, justice and peace here with our neighbors in Maine.

And on that common ground, we stand together today to say that tax reform should help, not hurt, Mainers who work hard but still struggle to put food on the table, to put heating oil in the tank, and to put medicine in the cabinet.  We say that it is immoral to give special breaks to the wealthy and powerful at the expense of average people, which is exactly what the current tax plan would do: give the richest 1% and wealthy corporations a huge, permanent tax cut, paid for by raising taxes on middle class families and slashing funding for programs that help people who are struggling and vulnerable—programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP.

When I look to our deep roots in scripture I find that the Hebrew prophets and Jesus of Nazareth were very clear: the yardstick God uses to measure any society is the way in which we treat those living in poverty.  Faithful people are called to bring “good news” to the oppressed.  This tax plan brings bad news to the marginalized, poor and struggling here in Maine.  The only people it brings “good news” to are the wealthiest 1%–in Maine, that’s only 7,000 people, each of whom would receive about $33,000 in tax cuts, and the 20 households in our entire state who are wealthy enough to benefit from repeal of the estate tax.  Meanwhile, the bad news for the rest of us is horrible: 90,000 low- and middle-income Mainers would see their taxes increase over the next ten years, and thousands would lose access to health care.  And the obscene increase to the national deficit that all non-partisan economic experts are predicting would result from this tax plan will almost certainly include deep reductions to programs that help those most in need, making hunger and poverty far worse here in Maine and across the nation.

The prophet Isaiah said that if we “offer our food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then our light shall rise in the darkness…and we shall raise up the foundations of many generations; we shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”  We urge Senator Collins to vote no on this misguided and immoral tax plan, and to continue her courageous stance against proposals that would restrict access to health care and hurt people here in Maine.  When she does, she, too, will be a light rising in the darkness.  She, too, will be a repairer of the breach, a restorer of streets to live in.  May it be so.