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Catholic Bishops Rebuke Ryan Budget

April 17, 2012, 4:03 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

The drumbeat is building. Last week 59 Catholic theologians and social justice leaders rebuked Rep. Paul Ryan for arguing that his federal budget plan is consistent with Catholic social teaching. Today the US Conference of Catholic Bishops called out House Republicans for making harmful cuts that flout church teaching about protecting poor and vulnerable people. The Hill’s Jonathan Easley has the story:

In a letter to the House Agriculture Committee, the bishops say the budget fails to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”

A second letter sent Tuesday to the Ways and Means Committee criticizes a provision that makes it more difficult for illegal immigrants to claim child tax credits. The Bishops called the credit “one of the most effective antipoverty programs in our nation.”

In their letter, the bishops urged lawmakers to reject “unacceptable cuts to hunger and nutrition” programs for “moral and human reasons.” They said spending cuts should instead be made to subsidy programs that “disproportionately go to large growers and agribusiness.”

Lawmakers should “protect essential programs that serve poor and hungry people over subsidies that assist large and relatively well-off agricultural enterprises,” said the letter, signed by Bishop Stephen E. Blaire.

“Cuts to nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment. These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”

This is a strong step toward holding lawmakers accountable for aggressively pushing a budget that brings more suffering for the poor, less security for the middle class, and more money for the richest Americans – especially in light of Rep. Paul Ryan’s attempt to justify this agenda on Catholic theological grounds.

It’s crucial for prominent leaders such as the bishops to speak out against this cruel, cowardly vision. As church leaders have demonstrated on other issues, they are capable of exerting considerable political pressure. Hopefully today’s letters to Congress presage a forceful campaign to rebuke the GOP’s immoral budget priorities.

This post has been updated to reflect an update of Easley’s story.

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