A social justice budget?

Around the web, social justice groups are beginning to weigh in on President Barack Obama's budget proposal

In a press release from Bread for the World, the groups' president, David Beckmann, wrote that budget debates have “a moral dimension.” 

“As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the budget is based on how the most poor and vulnerable people fare,” he wrote. “The president’s budget is a step in the right direction as it provides a framework for working-class families, who tend to have little voice in politics, an opportunity to improve their economic situations.”

In a statement given to NCR, Beckmann furthered his thinking:

President Obama’s budget is broadly consistent with Bread for the World’s thinking about how to end hunger in our country and around the world. I wish he would talk more candidly about the reality of poverty in our nation, but his proposals would benefit both low- and middle-income people. His budget would boost job creation, and it includes improvements in child nutrition and tax credits for low-income workers. His budget also proposes that we help Central America tackle poverty and violence, which are at the root of much of the undocumented immigration into our country.

NETWORK, a D.C.-based social justice lobby, wrote in a press release that “the federal budget is a moral statement that reflects the priorities of our nation.”

Grounding its analysis “in longstanding principles of the Catholic social justice tradition,” the group “[applauded] the Obama administration’s budget proposal as a valuable step toward policies that invest in working families while asking those who have benefited most from our economy to pay their fair share.”

“Saying that those who receive income from investments should not pay lower taxes than the rest of us is the right call,” NETWORK continues. “And those who hide profits offshore should pay their fair share to support the nation that has given them their opportunity. The president’s budget is fiscally responsible because it funds important programs that support families and individuals aspiring to become part of our nation’s middle class by raising reasonable revenue."

However, the group warned: “We are concerned about the increased Pentagon spending, which is designed to maintain parity between defense and non-defense spending. We would prefer additional funding for human needs both foreign and domestic. We know that real security comes when neighbors have their needs met and families have hope for a future. More Pentagon spending is not an effective way forward for our nation and our world.”

Over at the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, Robert Greenstein wrote that Obama has proposed “a surprisingly ambitious budget that would make progress — in some cases modest, in others large — in various areas in which policy sclerosis has prevented the nation from addressing significant problems.”

“The budget should also strengthen economic growth,” Greenstein wrote. “It would curb tax-driven economic distortions and invest part of the savings in initiatives that should make the labor force larger and more productive, such as pre-school education and child care, improved college access, stronger tax incentives for people to work, and much-needed infrastructure investments.”

While is remains unclear how Republicans will end up responding to the proposal, it’s not looking pretty. In the media, the budget has been called “dead on arrival," given that it runs counter to conservative economic thinking. Some Republican lawmakers have taken to mocking the proposal. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) called the budget “laughable.”

But certain political observers are beginning to examine where compromise and agreement could occur. 

[Vinnie Rotondaro is NCR national correspondent. His email address is vrotondaro@ncronline.org.]


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