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USCCB committees: cut deficit, but not at expense of anti-poverty programs

November 15, 2012

As the United States faces the possibility of “sequestration,” or automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect in January, the chairmen of two committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are urging members of the House of Representatives to “enact responsible deficit reduction that protects poor persons from cuts and future generations from unsustainable debts.”

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice, and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Human Development, expressed concern about the future of numerous domestic federal programs:

  • “Drastic cuts to affordable housing and community development programs, child and maternal health initiatives, and workforce training would deprive millions of Americans of resources they depend on to live in a manner worthy of their human dignity … Programs such as Section 8 housing vouchers, the Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) program, and community health centers help to keep children and families with a roof over their heads, with food on the table, and in good health”
  • “Educational services for at-risk students expand educational opportunities and participation of nonpublic schools, but public and non-public school students and their families would suffer from cuts: Title I-A supports low-income students struggling academically and they would lose remedial tutoring services; Title II-A supports teachers’ professional development; and IDEA supports students with disabilities.”
  • “Members of both parties have supported effective antipoverty programs that target assistance to people living in or near poverty, including but not limited to the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), and Pell Grants. These and other programs that aid people in escaping poverty through education, training, and work should be protected from cuts. These initiatives reward work and allow families to live in dignity.

Instead, “to achieve savings, policy makers should consider cutting nuclear weapons programs, direct agricultural subsidies, and other unnecessary spending,” the bishops added.

In their November 13 letter, Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates also lamented potential cuts to international anti-poverty programs.

“Sequestration would also severely affect our country's poverty-focused international assistance programs that promote human life and dignity, advance solidarity with poorer nations, and enhances global stability and security,” they said. “The cuts envisioned in sequestration would mean 276,500 fewer people receiving HIV/AIDS treatment, potentially leading to 63,000 more deaths and 124,000 more orphans; and 656,000 fewer children having access to primary school, making their road to overcoming poverty that much steeper.”


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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: sswarmka7393 - Nov. 17, 2012 3:23 PM ET USA

    So subsidiarity is still a thing we don't talk about at parties...

  • Posted by: unum - Nov. 16, 2012 10:14 AM ET USA

    Nothing new here. Let's move along!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 15, 2012 10:01 PM ET USA

    You're absolutely correct, Ronald, they do not have faith that Catholic charities would pick up the slack, and I believe they would. Instead, prelates should focus their time and energy on convincing the faithful how damaging it is to their salvation to vote for and support anti-life politicians and those who continue to add to immoral levels of national debt.

  • Posted by: debjmj9652 - Nov. 15, 2012 7:53 PM ET USA

    I would no sooner support anti-poverty programs run by people who do not agree with the non-negotiables of the Catholic faith any more than I would support Catholic schools run by the same. How many abused children and adults receiving counseling via these programs will ever hear the truth and meaning of human sexuality, for instance.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 15, 2012 11:35 AM ET USA

    The Campaign for Human Development collection is scheduled for next Sunday at my parish. Our pastor spoke common sense about that collection in his sermon last Sunday. How about redirecting Catholic fundraising initiatives away from Saul Alinsky organizations? Why are Catholic prelates stuck on large government solutions to problems that are rightly in the domain of Catholic charity? Do they not have faith that Catholic charities would pick up the slack if the government permanently faltered?