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Don’t cut budget on the backs of the poor, advocates tell Congress

February 15, 2011, 2:53 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli
Catholic News Service
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FPL organized this Valentine’s Day statement

The federal budget crunch should not be eased by cutting programs that help the poor, refugees and the unemployed in the United States or those struggling to survive in developing nations, warned church leaders in letters to Congress and responses to President Barack Obama’s budget proposal.

“In a time of economic crisis, the poor and vulnerable are in greater need of assistance, not less,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a Feb. 14 letter to Congress. “Preserving the national security of the country is without doubt imperative, but we cannot secure the nation while at the same time furthering the insecurity of the poor and vulnerable in our midst.”

A second letter the same day from Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, dealt with international budget concerns. The two noted that the proposed continuing resolution for the current federal budget year includes cuts adding up to 26 percent of funding in programs for international assistance, but only 2.6 percent in cuts for the overall budget. “Shared sacrifice is one thing;” said Hackett and Bishop Hubbard, “it is another to make disproportionate cuts in programs that serve the most vulnerable. It is morally unacceptable for our nation to balance its budget on the backs of the poor at home and abroad.”

One group of faith leaders played off the Valentine’s Day date and called on Congress not to cut the heart out of programs that keep families healthy. “As Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day, vital programs that support families and the most vulnerable now face drastic budget cuts,” said Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service and executive director of Network, the Catholic social justice lobby, in a statement issued by religious leaders of various faiths. “Sound fiscal judgment makes perfect sense, but cutting the heart out of effective programs that help mothers, children and hard-working citizens is both cruel and misguided.”

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