The U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops has challenged some of the sharp reductions in social spending being considered for the 2011 federal budget. Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a March 4 letter to the U.S. Senate called a cut of of $2.3 billion in affordable housing programs "not justified in light of the continuing housing crisis for low-and moderate-income families." He said a $1.75 reduction in job training programs was "unwarranted at a time of high unemployment and low job creation" and said a proposed $1.3 billion cut to Community Health Centers "will deny health care to nearly eleven million poor and vulnerable people including mothers and children at risk. These centers are often the only access to health care for tens of millions of people in our country."
The bishop also challenged cuts in spending for refugee resettlement programs. "These reductions would have a devastating effect on refugees, Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa recipients, victims of torture and trafficking, unaccompanied alien children, and other vulnerable populations," he said. "Communities across the country that welcome these populations would also be affected by these cuts. At a minimum, Congress should maintain funding for these essential programs at the current level."
“The spending choices of Congress have clear moral and human dimensions; they reflect our values as a people,” said Bishop Blaire. "In a time of economic crisis, poor and vulnerable people are in greater need of assistance, not less.”
The complete USCCB release:
WASHINGTON (March 7, 2011)—Congress should place the needs of the poor, unemployed, hungry and other vulnerable people first as it sets its budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2011, said the bishop who oversees domestic policy on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“The spending choices of Congress have clear moral and human dimensions; they reflect our values as a people,” said Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a March 4 letter to the U.S. Senate. “Some current proposals call for substantial reductions, particularly in those programs that serve the poorest and most vulnerable people in our nation. In a time of economic crisis, poor and vulnerable people are in greater need of assistance, not less.”
Bishop Blaire cited over $5 billion in proposed cuts to programs including community health centers, affordable housing, job training programs, education programs for low-income people and refugee funding as having a severe impact on the poor and vulnerable.
Bishop Blaire acknowledged the need to address the federal deficit to ensure stability for future generations, as well as the need to preserve national security, noting that the way to do this is not to create greater insecurity for the poor but through shared sacrifice for all. He also voiced support for provisions that continue to ban federal abortion funding and restore the ban in the District of Columbia.