I’m grateful for the 10 governors — Republican and Democrat — who wrote to senators asking them to reject the so-called “skinny repeal” because of how it would affect their residents.
I’m grateful for the thousands of you who heeded Sojourners’ call and contacted your member of Congress to voice your opposition to any bill that would hurt the poor with devastating cuts to Medicaid.
PRAYER, FASTING, and advocacy are all spiritual disciplines—ones that we need right now. Several faith leaders came together this spring to call our brothers and sisters in our diverse faith communities to tie these three spiritual disciplines together “for such a time as this.”
What kind of time is this? We are living in a time when vulnerable people in the United States and around the world are facing tremendous threats from this administration and this Congress—threats that will be on vivid display in the budget debates that will consume Congress after Labor Day:
1. ICE Officers Instructed to Take Action Against All Undocumented Immigrants, Regardless of Criminal Histories
“Between February and May, the Trump administration arrested, on average, 108 undocumented immigrants a day with no criminal record, an uptick of some 150 percent from the same time period a year ago.”
2. Officials Say the Answer to Chicago’s Violence Is Jobs. But On What Scale?
WBEZ Chicago did the calculation. Here’s how much it would cost in the first year to employ the target group of more than 30,000 people.
3. Liberating Theology from the Intellectual One-Percenters
How can people who do not reside within academia gain access to the treasure trove of knowledge that is Christian theology?
We come as women and men of faith. Though separated by physical distances, cultural differences, and faith traditions, many of us united in prayer and fasting in May, directed toward God’s intervention in the politics of the United States, especially as it relates to the poor and vulnerable. We pray for wisdom for our governmental leaders, but we are committed to continued advocacy for those most in need of society’s safety nets.
Coming together from all streams of American Christianity to speak in opposition to cuts on the safety-net programs is no minor achievement. We have a widespread consensus on the priority of providing essential life saving support to poor people in our country. We also agree in that the ultimate goal is to create a just society in which everyone live an abundant life that includes meaningful work with fair salaries, affordable health care and education, and time for leisure and recreation.
When we say the most vulnerable or the “least of these” we are not talking about numbers on a page. We are talking about the elderly — grandmothers and grandfathers, deacons, trustees, and ushers, children’s ministry workers, community leaders, and those who have worked for decades to provide for themselves and their families. We are talking about children and youth who were born with purpose and possibilities, who have their whole lives ahead of them, future pastors, and lay leaders, lawyers, teachers, journalists, and members of Congress — those who will determine the future our nation. We’re talking about those who have disabilities and those who work hard every day – sometimes two and three jobs to make ends meet and provide for their families but get paid low wages that do not cover the high cost of living in most cities and towns in our nation.
Several years ago, Sojourners asked that question, leading a campaign to remind our leaders in Washington that: “A budget is a moral document. Our faith tells us that the moral test of a society is how it treats the poor. As a country, we face difficult choices, but whether or not we defend vulnerable people should not be one of them.” As we look at the priorities outlined in the Trump administration’s 2018 budget released today, it’s worth asking again: What would Jesus cut?
We celebrated the failure of a cruel bill. We celebrated our powerful unity across other theological and political differences and our clear opposition to cutting the poor out of the critical budget decisions which now lie ahead. Yes, we celebrated. But we remain vigilant.
The only way to win the “war on poverty” is for liberals and conservatives to make peace — for the sake of the poor. That would be the best way to mark the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, declared by President Lyndon Johnson in his January 1964 State of the Union address. Making peace means replacing ideologies with solutions that actually solve the problems of poverty. With both Republicans and Democrats speaking out on poverty this week, and the recession slowly receding this should be an opportunity to find the focus, commitment, and strategies that could effectively reduce and ultimately eliminate the shameful facts of poverty in the world’s richest nation.
For any proposal, the basic question must be whether it helps more people and families rise out of poverty and realize their dreams. This means setting aside political self-interest and thinking beyond our too often inflexible ideologies.
I’m a senior. And I’m mad. In fact, I am resigning from the AARP.
The America Association of Retired People has about 38 million members and is one of the biggest, most influential lobbies in Washington. It has done many good things for older Americans, but in some important ways it is just plain wrong — selfish and guilty of intergenerational injustice.
As Fareed Zakaria pointed out is a 2011 column in Time, the federal government spends about $4 on every senior over 65 and only $1 on every child under 18. “That is a statement about our priorities,” Zakaria rightly says, “favoring consumption over investment, the present over the future, ourselves over our children.” Partly as a result the poverty rate for children (22 percent) is much higher than that for seniors (9.7 percent).
Writing for The Nation, Bryce Covert examines how state-level opt outs of Medicaid expansions will affect women:
"The Medicaid expansion is a crucial component of the law’s overall goal of extending coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans by 2019, covering almost half of the total number of people the bill promised to insure. Originally, the law included a provision that the federal government could take away all of a state’s Medicaid funding if it refused to go along with the expansion, which all but ensured participation. But the Court ruled that such a maneuver was unconstitutional. Just a few days after the decision was announced, seven Republican governors said they would flat-out reject the money to expand Medicaid rolls, with at least eight more looking to follow suit. More have said no since then.
This could create a no-man’s land for those who earn less than 100 percent of the federal poverty line, making them ineligible for tax subsidies to help them buy insurance, but don’t qualify for their state’s (unexpanded) Medicaid program. These Americans are surely struggling to get by, but not quite enough to get health coverage promised to those above and below them."
Read more here
According to SCOTUS Blog, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act limiting only the Medicaid provision, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the majority.
Read the full decision HERE.
Stay tuned to Sojourners' blog for additional comments and analysis of the decision.
As Congress continues to wage a war of political ideology over budget cuts and entitlement programs, they need to remember that these abstract policy debates have real consequences for millions of Americans.
Deciding between funding programs that feed the hungriest Americans versus giving tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans is not really a choice, at least not when it comes to the demands of the Gospel.
North Korean Leader’s Nukes, Threats Stoked World Fears; Extension of Tax Cut Stalls in House as GOP Objects; Christian Group Recalls Pink Bible; For Times Such As These: The Radical Christian Witness of the New Monastics; ‘People’s year’ gives hope that the tide is turning; Speaker targets immigration law; Vaclav Havel, Czech’s Velvet Revolution Leader, Dead at 75; Paul Leads Iowa, Gingrich drops to 3; Mitt Romney’s Dream World: Cutting Billions Out of Medicaid Will Not 'Hurt the Poor'.
There are times when a story in the news just makes one stop with a righteous indignation.The news I heard today that one in two Americans is now classified as poor makes me angry.
This means half of the people living the richest nation in the world are poor. Is this the American exceptionalism we want?
I am angry because this is a not necessary. I am angry that so many people are suffering, while our elected officials are playing games, unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to promote the general welfare of the nation.