Bishops Urge Congress to Remember the Poor in Budget

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."

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“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.

Full Text of Bishop Blaire's letter

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6 years 8 months ago
Another of the(right wing) attacks on public service unions, which the bishops in Wisconsin seem to back.
One way to fund more programs would be to increase taxes on the welthiest Americans, but those are dirty words today, thanks to PR from the right.
6 years 8 months ago
One way to help fund these programs the Bishops want is to severly restrict the public service unions.  Money for salaries and benefits are draining the system dry.  So one way the Bishops could help is to support people like Governor Walker in Wisconsin who is trying to role back all the egregious wage increases and benefit escalations that public service employees get.


Locally for me, the unions are asking for wage increases as they cut their ranks to eat the largesse.  An example, a well regarded tenured teacher with 15 years experience is being axed because she moved to a different school district 5 years ago to be nearer her children.  In her school district she was lowest on the totem pole in local seniority as half the teachers make more than $100,000 and will get raises. This is where the Bishops should be focusing their attention.  This is why Congress is scrambling to cut deficits.  If they are successful, then maybe the poor will be able to get more help and hopefully jobs.


For a discussion of the devastation the public service unions and entitlements in general are doing to the over all health of the country and specifically to the poor read:

http://reason.com/archives/2011/02/16/farewell-my-lovely  
6 years 8 months ago
For those who want to read more on this problem.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/08/AR2011030802528_pf.html


http://reason.com/archives/2011/03/08/the-state-pension-time-bomb


Until I see the bishops recognize this problem, and it does not include the problem of rising medicare costs, it will be impossible to take their entreaties seriously.  The interesting thing is that the liberals see this as threatening all their cherished projects just as the bishops see their projects threatened.  The liberals could care less about the poor or the working stiff as long as they can get their dream wish but the pension fund requirements are causing all their fantasies to turn into pipe dreams.  Meanwhile the poor as usual get the shaft from the liberals and their union buddies.


I suggest the bishops learn what is truly social justice and how best to achieve it. 
Vince Killoran
6 years 8 months ago
I like the priorities set forth in the letter, but they could assert in a stronger voice the need to check the growing inequality of wealth, the need for legislators to stop raiding pension funds and social security, reformed behavior by Wall Street & corporations, and bloated military budgets.  Still, it's an important step in the right direction.

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