Bishops reject House GOP budget approach

Apropos of Matt's post below on the debt ceiling and compromise, leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops today released a letter (PDF file) that has been sent to all members of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in the name of the USCCB.The two-page letter (press release version here) clearly rejects the all-cuts-and-nothing-but-the-cuts approach of the House GOP, which is led by prominent Catholics like Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan:

A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly. [bold in the original text]In this letter we do not offer a detailed critique of the entire measure before the House, but we ask you to consider the human and moral dimensions of several key choices facing the Congress. We fear the human and social costs of substantial cuts to programs that serve families working to escape poverty, especially food and nutrition, child development and education, and affordable housing.We also fear the costs of undermining international assistance which is an essential tool to promote human life and dignity, advance solidarity with poorer nations, and enhance global security. Such assistance supports a wide range of life-saving programs, including: drugs to combat diseases; assistance to poor farmers and orphans; food aid for starving people; aid to victims of natural disasters; and help to refugees fleeing for their lives. The House proposal will require massive cuts in all these areas. We support continuing reform of programs that serve poor people to make them even more effective.

The letter comes at a crucial juncture in the negotiations. I don't expect the GOP -- even its Catholic members -- will pay it much heed. But perhaps complicate the meme that the Catholic hierarchy is an arm of the Republican Party.

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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