Debate Club

The Poor Should Not Bear the Burden of a Deficit They Didn't Cause

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GOP leaders in Congress who can't stop talking about family values are proposing an array of deep cuts to food stamps, child tax credits, healthcare for the poor, and even block grants that help states with daycare and adoption assistance. Left untouched are military spending that has ballooned over the last decade and tax breaks for the richest Americans. This isn't courageous or pragmatic. It's fiscally irresponsible and morally wrong.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

Religious leaders are not letting Rep. Paul Ryan—architect of the GOP budget proposal—get away with the fiction that this budget reflects the values of his Catholic faith. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent a series of letters to GOP-controlled House committees arguing that these cuts are "unjustified and wrong." Bishops wrote this week that "a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons" and bluntly conclude that "the proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test." Catholic leaders have called for "shared sacrifice," putting "unnecessary military spending" on the table and—in a pointed critique of Republicans' fiscal fantasy that we can balance the budget by cuts alone—reference the need for "raising adequate revenues." When Representative Ryan recently spoke at Georgetown University, almost 90 professors and priests at the Catholic university urged him to stop distorting Catholic social teaching to advance his radical ideological agenda. Expect faith leaders to keep challenging budget proposals and economic policies that undermine bedrock principles of justice, compassion, and the common good.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Will the New Ryan Budget Plan Hurt the GOP in 2012?]

We should not pit national security against economic security. An effective military and a responsive government that doesn't turn its back on vulnerable families are both achievable if we move beyond false choices. The working poor struggling in minimum-wage jobs, the elderly, and a squeezed middle class did not cause our deficits. They should not be asked to bear the greatest burden.

John Gehring

About John Gehring Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life

Tags
defense spending
deficit and national debt
federal budget

Other Arguments

#2
28 Pts
Entitlement Programs, Not Defense, the Source of Deficit Crisis

Yes – Entitlement Programs, Not Defense, the Source of Deficit Crisis

Mackenzie Eaglen Fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute

#3
-12 Pts
Commonsense Cuts Will Keep America Safe

Yes – Commonsense Cuts Will Keep America Safe

Brian Darling Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

#4
-14 Pts
Defense Budget Is Mismanaged

No – Defense Budget Is Mismanaged

Dean Baker Author of 'The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive'

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