A group of progressive national organizations today launched the Emergency Campaign for American Priorities (ECAP) to oppose the Republican congressional leadership’s effort to pay for a new round of tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans by slashing vital safety net programs that serve the most vulnerable Americans – and to use the suffering of hurricane Katrina’s victims as political cover.
“It is astonishing that Republican leaders’ response to the nation’s renewed focus on poverty and inequality is to cut programs that alleviate poverty,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. “It is shameful that they would do so while shoveling more billions in tax breaks to those who don’t need them.”
Neas said the organization, a founding member of the Fair Taxes for All coalition, was eager to mobilize its 750,000 members and activists for the ECAP campaign and to promote the campaign’s online activism through actnow.org.
Neas noted that the total cost of the Bush tax cuts from 2001 through their scheduled expirations by 2010 will be $1.9 trillion with an additional $1.1 trillion in interest on the increased debt caused by the tax cuts (total cost $3 trillion). Households with income above $1 million are receiving an annual average of $136,398 in tax cuts from the fully implemented Bush tax cuts, while families with income below $20,000 per year (the federal poverty level for a family of four is $19,300) get an average tax cut of $192.
Neas said the new tax breaks are only one of the ways in which right-wing leaders are trying to exploit hurricane Katrina in order to push an agenda designed to undermine the public sector, privatize vital government services, and divert public funds to unaccountable corporations and private organizations.
“Hurricane Katrina reminded us that we put ourselves and our communities at risk if we fail to hold public officials accountable or starve government of the resources it needs to meet its responsibilities,” said Neas. “Americans have once again demonstrated their generosity in time of need, but churches and charities cannot take the place of government.”
The Emergency Campaign for American Priorities (ECAP) is a short-term national campaign formed by organizations committed to an aggressive grassroots, grass-tops, public relations and lobbying campaign to convince Congress to stop a Republican-backed plan that would drastically cut programs that primarily benefit the poor and middle class in order to pay for tax cuts that benefit only the wealthiest among us.