The Common Good

Fiscal Cliff: Time to Challenge the 'Mighty on Their Thrones'

Date: December 21, 2012

We must be very careful about bringing theological judgments to political ones. Most policy decisions are prudential judgments -- compromises between two political parties, neither of which represents the kingdom of God. But sometimes, political ideologies come to a place where they so clearly threaten the well-being of so many and the very foundations of the common good that they must be challenged by theology. This is a moment like that. 

Yesterday, Speaker John Boehner brought two bills to the House floor - a tax bill that failed and a spending cut bill that passed. Both fail the basic test of protecting the poor and vulnerable. While it does not look like even the spending bill has much of a future, what it portends for the future of the deficit reduction debate is grim. The package taken together would enact harmful cuts in food assistance, health care, and tax credits that help struggling families make ends meet. 

Cuts to SNAP would take $41 in food assistance away from a family of four each month - a real difference to those living on the edge. The cuts to health insurance subsidies and Medicaid would leave millions uninsured. The cut in tax credits would push 1.5 million Americans -- and 800,000 children -- in working families into poverty. And, the wholesale elimination of the Social Services Block Grant would cut adoption services, child care help to working mothers, and community-based supports to the elderly so they can live in their homes rather than nursing homes.