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USCCB criticizes House budget cuts

April 18, 2012

Bishop Stephen Blaire, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said that proposed budget cuts recently passed by the House of Representatives “failed to meet [the] moral criteria” set forth by the USCCB.

In four letters addressed to leaders of congressional committees, Bishop Blaire weighed in on several cuts to specific programs:

  • “The Catholic bishops urge you to protect funding for programs that serve poor and vulnerable people, such as Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) and People with Disabilities (Section 811), Housing for People with AIDS (HOPWA), Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (HUD-VASH), McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance, and Tenant- and Project-based Rental Assistance, as well as other programs that are vital to ensuring that vulnerable Americans have safe and affordable housing.”
  • “I also reiterate our concern with proposals to increase the minimum amount of rent that can be charged to families receiving housing assistance.”
  • “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. If cuts are necessary, the committee should first look towards reducing and targeting commodity and subsidy programs that disproportionately go to large growers and agribusiness.”
  • “The bishops’ conference urges you to resist significant cuts to both domestic and international food aid and conservation and rural development programs. Major reductions at this time of economic turmoil and rising poverty will hurt hungry, poor and vulnerable people in our nation and around the world.”
  • “The bishops’ conference supports farm safety net programs such as crop insurance and disaster assistance that are targeted to the needs of small to medium sized farmers and ranchers. Savings should be used to fund hunger and nutrition programs that serve people in need.”
  • “I wish to renew our strong opposition to unfair proposals that would alter the Child Tax Credit to exclude children of hard-working, immigrant families.

Joined by Bishop Richard Pates, chairman of the USCCB’s International Committee on Justice and Peace, Bishop Blaire also emphasized the importance of six domestic programs (WIC, TEFAP, SNAP, CSFP, CSP, and VAPG) and four international programs (PL-480 Title II, Safe Box, Local and Regional Purchase, and 202e Funds).


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  • Posted by: impossible - Apr. 23, 2012 12:33 PM ET USA

    The USCCB penchant for leaning toward socialism is the result of approaching the beautifully cogent social teaching of the Church with an agenda-driven mindset rather than with an open-minded search for moral truth.

  • Posted by: chasann113163 - Apr. 19, 2012 1:04 PM ET USA

    I too agree with the speaker of the house,I also believe that it discourages some people from doing for themselves. I grew up poor and there was no shame in it,we didn't have a lot of stuff but we were satisfied with what we had and I believe we were happier for it, and with no government help.

  • Posted by: unum - Apr. 19, 2012 7:47 AM ET USA

    Reuters is reporting that House Speaker Boehner, a Catholic, has responded to the bishops letter saying the bishops have a "moral argument," but said, "I want them to take a bigger look. The bigger look is if we don't make decisions (to slash spending), these programs won't exist, and then they will really have something to worry about," Boehner continued, "If we don't begin to make some decisions about getting our fiscal house in order, there won't be a safety net." I'm with Boehner.

  • Posted by: tfiks7959 - Apr. 18, 2012 10:12 PM ET USA

    benniep5, I've been thinking the same thing for years. Ten years ago I said much the same thing to our parish priest. He disagreed and claimed the Church and the Government are "in partnership." My question to him--"Father, how can we be in partnership with a government that has legalized abortion?" Perhaps people like this good priest believe we must actively work with the Government to try to influence it. But can we be in partnership with Caesar??

  • Posted by: unum - Apr. 18, 2012 10:05 PM ET USA

    I thought the new priorities of the USCCB were protecting religious freedom and the New Evangelization. But, now the bishops are going back to politicking as usual, telling the government to spend funds we don't have without identifying where additional funds can be found. No wonder the faithful are confused and will continue to ask, "What is the mission of the U.S. Church and who is its leader?"

  • Posted by: benniep5 - Apr. 18, 2012 7:05 PM ET USA

    When are our Bishops going to get it, the reason we are facing the choice between religious freedom and the HHS mandate is we as Christians and Catholics expect the government to take care of the underserved when Christ gave that job to us- that is us Christians.... this mindset express in the Bishops letter is the same mindset that expects the Federal Government to take care the poor and operate as a charitable organizations which now has a majority to expect the federal government to pay for contraception, abortifacients, and abortions, or to believe the government should force the Church to against her teachings. Too many of our Bishops are following in line with those that want to turn our nation into a quasi-Marxist nation and dismantle our federalist government. Protection of the poor belongs to the local community, and if government is to be involved it should be the local government, not Washington. In truth the house budget wants to give the responsibility of those programs back to the people who would know what is best for the local situation, for centralized solutions drain and waste b much of the fund that would go to help those that need our help. It is time for our Church leaders to choose between Christ and Caesar? The early Church didn’t petition Caesar and the senate in Rome to take care of the poor locally, she did it herself. The Church should not pimp herself to Caesar, but be the true bride of Christ, do His bidding, not Caesars?

  • Posted by: Savonarola - Apr. 18, 2012 6:35 PM ET USA

    Yet another serious mistake by the USCCB and its leftist staffers. Has anybody there ever heard of the Catholic principle of SUBSIDIARITY??