As I look at the budget reductions/eliminations voted on by the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives, it may be time to emulate the people of Wisconsin and take to the streets to protest these injustices nationwide.
Budgets are, in a real sense, a concrete statement of moral beliefs. If we Catholics champion justice for the poor, care about peace and want to preserve our natural environment, our community of faith needs to scrutinize these budget cuts, and protest loudly!
Now let’s be clear: reducing the deficit is a good idea, although there is serious question among knowledgeable economists about the wisdom of doing it now, before we recover a bit more from the recession.
But ultimately, deficit reduction will be necessary. The question is how? And what do we do? Raise revenue, or cut, or some combination thereof?
First, let’s look at the Republican legislation as outlined by the House Appropriations Committee:
- No reform whatsoever to eliminate the tax cuts for the wealthy (just renewed in the recent lame duck Congress)
- No attempt to go after corporations with tax shelters overseas
- No substantial cuts to the Defense budget
- Many Budget cuts that afflict the poor, especially (and this is just a sampling):
- WIC (for women, infants, children) -- $758 million cut
- International Food Aid Grants -- $544 million cut
- Legal Services Corporation -- $75 million cut
- Job Training Programs -- $2 Billion cut (aren’t jobs what people are clamoring for?)
- Community Services Block Grant -- $405 million cut
- HUD Community Development Fund -- $530 million cut
- Community Health Centers -- $1.3 Billion cut
- Maternal and Child Health Block Grants -- $210 million cut
- Family Planning - $327 million cut [N.B: this cut will increase abortions]
- Budget cuts that threaten our health and safety:
- Food Safety and Inspection Services -- $53 million cut
- EPA State and local air quality management -- $25 million cut
- Clean Water State Revolving fund -- $700 million cut
- Drinking Water State Revolving fund -- $250 million cut
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services -- $96 million cut
- National Institutes of Health -- $1 billion cut
- Poison Control Centers -- $27 million cut
- Center for Disease Control -- $755 million cut
- Food and Drug Administration -- $220 million cut
- Cuts that will hurt the planet (especially cuts in EPA funds):
- Flood control and Coastal emergencies (think BP!) -- $30 million cut
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy -- $899 million cut
- EPA itself -- $1.6 billion cut
- Land and Water Conservation Fund -- $348 million cut
- Fish and Wildlife Service -- $72 million cut
- Forest Service -- $38 million cut
The list could go on and on. It cuts also the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Arts and Humanities, and the National Labor Relations Board (part of the anti-union moves on the right).
I am appalled. It’s past time to make our views known.