Budget

Faithful Alternatives to the Sequester

Today the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs (DHN) presented a forum for congressional representatives to talk about a more faithful response to the pending sequester this upcoming January.

Sequestration as we know it was meant to be a last resort – if Congress could not agree on a budget, then programs would be cut, or sequestered, across the board. The problem with the current sequestration agreement is that it does not protect programs that affect the poor, uninsured, and unemployed.

I'm a Fraud (and So Are You)

I’m coming to terms with the realization that I’m a big, fat fake. But at least I’m in good company.

Amy’s birthday was last Sunday. We had just arrived in Portland, so we went to a fancy-pants restaurant, situated several hundred feet above the skyline, with a view of the entire surrounding city, the Willamette River and Mount Hood. We shared a bottle of wine, enjoyed outstanding service and indulged on gourmet food to celebrate her ever-growing tenure as an occupant of our planet.

The bill for the night was nearly enough to cover groceries for our family for up to two weeks.

We could manage it; we knew it was pricey before we got there. And it was fairly easy to justify too. We were making memories. It was an other step in the courtship, helping us fall in love with our new city. We had worked hard over the past eight years, establishing a church in Colorado, struggling to pay bills at times, and we’re now enjoying some material fruits of our labor.

What bullshit.

Seriously, how does anyone really justify spending that kind of money on one meal? After all, from our vantage point on the 30th floor, I could see scads of people below, standing on street corners, tucked in under sleeping bags and beneath cardboard boxes, walking wearily from one job to the next, hoping to pull together enough to make rent.

Paul Ryan to 'Preempt Austerity'

House budget chairman Paul Ryan and Senate assistant majority leader Dick Durbin discuss debt challenges and austerity on Meet The Press over the weekend.

According to Ryan: "The whole premise of our budget is to preempt austerity by getting our borrowing under control, having tax reform for economic growth, and preventing Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid from going bankrupt."

Politico reports that Ryan's argument follows Republican arguement that cutting those programs now will prevent future economic hardship, and later on, save them.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Why the Economy Is Where It Is

Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities takes a look at the economic situation for The Huffington Post and asks:

"Why are advanced economies so seemingly immune to correct diagnosis and prescription? Why are we applying leeches instead of the contemporary medicine of combined monetary and fiscal stimulus in order to once and for all hit the escape velocity that's eluded us thus far?"

Take a look at his answers here

Plowshares into Swords

 

Under a mandate from the budget resolution passed by the House in March, committees are required to cut discretionary programs to avoid the automatic cuts in military spending to take effect in January. The funds cut are to be moved from the nondefense to the defense categories in the budget. Yesterday, the House Agriculture Committee produced its share by cutting $33 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps).

Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the Committee had this response: “You can’t have a serious conversation about getting the budget under control when you take large items like defense off the table, which is really why we are here. Taking a meat-ax to nutrition programs that feed millions of working families in this country in order to avoid defense cuts is not a serious way to achieve deficit reduction.” 

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that a cut this large would result in 2 million people losing benefits and the remaining 44 million having theirs reduced.  So here’s the equation, more hungry people = more weapons for war.  It’s clear and direct.

Duane Shank is Senior Policy Advisor at Sojourners. You can follow him on Twitter @DShankDC.

Ryan Budget is a Present-Day 'Hunger Games'

Melissa Boteach of Half-in-Ten—the campaign to cut poverty in half in 10 years—is using the Katniss defense against the Ryan budget cuts.

The world that Suzanne Collins paints in the The Hunger Games is one in which only the strong survive. Those that can’t keep up are cut out, kind of like the Ryan budget.

One of the radical things about the ethical agenda that Jesus promoted was the place he offered to the sick, the weak and the weary. He flipped common understanding of who was “deserving” and who was “undeserving” upside down.

The Catholic Bishops have now come out with their concerns about the Ryan budget and how it abandons the poor and the hungry. Take a look at Melissa’s chart, what do you think?

Half-in-ten

Book Review: Fixing the Moral Deficit

Fixing the Moral Deficit, YouTube.com screenshot, InterVarsity Press

Fixing the Moral Deficit, YouTube.com screenshot, InterVarsity Press

Rep. Paul Ryan’s (Chairman of House Budget Committee) FY2012 plan, A Roadmap for America’s Future, garnered princely praise in early April 2011, but it was quickly trailed by intense scrutiny when Ryan’s botched math and skewed priorities became apparent upon his budget’s review. Hailed as visionary and courageous upon submission, Ryan’s budget plan ultimately revealed his ideologically entrenched disregard for the poor.

A few weeks ago President Barack Obama announced his FY2013 Budget. Within a few weeks, Ryan will submit his FY2013 budget plan for review. Dr. Ronald J. Sider’s new book, Fixing the Moral Deficit (February 2012), comes just in time!

Sider has offered practical, balanced, and highly informed guidance for Christian engagement in the public sphere since publication of his first and seminal book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (1977). Sider draws from his Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America (Sider, 1999) to lay the philosophical foundation for this latest analysis in Fixing the Moral Deficit.

Sider starts with a simple premise: We have a deficit crisis. We also have a poverty crisis. Together these crises are producing a moral crisis in America.

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 22, 2012

Religion And Politics Don't Mix, Major Religious Groups Tell Presidential Candidates; 25 Percent Of Super PAC Money Coming From Just 5 Rich Donors; POLL: Men, Evangelicals Boost Santorum; Southern Baptist Leaders OK 'Great Commission'; Obama Budget: Grow Prisons and Keep Gitmo; The Failure Of Austerity Politics (OPINION); Atheist Alain de Botton Insists Society Needs Guidance From Religion; Access To Good, Healthy Food Should Be A Basic Human Right; Protesters To GOP Candidates: Don't DREAM Halfway.

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