House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told Christian Broadcast Network earlier this week that the House GOP’s budget, which he wrote, wasdriven by his Catholic faith. “A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,” Ryan said, and Catholic principles are what led him to cut programs for the poor so as to keep people from becoming “dependent on government.”
As ThinkProgress noted Tuesday, Ryan’s budget seems toignore Catholic social teachingthat calls for protecting the poor and improving access to food, jobs, health care, housing, and the social safety net. And now religious leaders are making the same case. The founder of the PICO National Network, the largest national coalition of religious congregations, slammed Ryan’s claim of adherence to Catholic teaching as “the height of hypocrisy” in a release circulated Wednesday:
“It’s the height of hypocrisy for Rep. Ryan to claim that his approach to the budget is shaped by Catholic teaching and values,” said Fr. John Baumann, S.J., founder of PICO National Network. [...] “A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25).The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.”
“By these measures,” the release says, “the Ryan budget is a severe failure,” noting that it cutsMedicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants,food stamps, and “other programs that help vulnerable working families make it through tough times and live better lives,” while givingmassive tax breaksto the wealthiest Americans and corporations. Overall,62 percentof Ryan’s budget cuts come from programs that benefit the poor. “The mission of the Church is to ‘bring good news to the poor’ and to protect the vulnerable, not to justify the impoverishment of the very young, the very old and the sick in order to enrich the wealthy,” the release says.
This isn’t the first time religious leaders have criticized the House GOP budget. When Ryan released the budget in March, Bishop Gene Robinson called it an “immoral disaster” that “robs the poor,” and Father Thomas Kelly, a constituent of Ryan’s, said he was “outraged” that Ryan defended the budget “on moral grounds.” Last year’s Ryan budget faced similar criticism, as religious leaders blasted it for adheringmore closelyto the policies of anti-religion, anti-government author Ayn Rand than to the teachings of the Bible.
As ThinkProgress has detailed, the House Republican budget, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), pays for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans by cutting spending from programs that primarily benefit lower-income Americans. While giving an average of$187,000 to each millionaire, the budget finds62 percentof its cuts from programs that benefit the lower- and middle-classes, kicking millions off of food stamps, gutting Pell Grants, and slashing Medicare and Medicaid.
As if that weren’t enough, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the budgetalso raises taxesfor low-income Americans:
The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center has published new numbers that showthe Ryan plan would raise taxes on low-income working families — those making up to $30,000 a year. That’s because, while he would extend the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of this year,he would not extend President Obama’s tax cuts for those with the lowest incomes, which will expire at the same time. Our updated report gives the details.
Ryan is, of course, taking up a fight Republicans have been waging for most of the last year. For instance, while working to ensure that the rich won’t face any tax increases any time soon, the GOP tried toblockextension of a payroll tax cut, which primarily benefits the middle class, before finally relenting early this year. The GOP has alsopushed the myththat nearly half of Americans don’t pay taxes in order to distort debates about tax fairness.
A majority of the Republican caucus has signed onto the radical anti-tax pledge authored by Americans for Tax Reform head Grover Norquist, assuring Americans that they would not raise taxes under any circumstance. But as their budget makes clear, Republicans do indeed support raising taxes in their quest to balance the budget, as long as those tax increasesonly hit the Americans who can afford them least.
"When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
"You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.'
"Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."
At best, they are pro-fetal life. They love the pre-born but could care less for those children already here, whose poverty they will blame on their parents, whose illness and lack of health care they will shrug off as "not their problem," and whose humanity they will altogether ignore or even cheer as it is destroyed, so long as those children be Iraqi, or Afghan, or just Muslim in general.