Not so fast Paul Ryan.
Today the GOP House Budget Chairman claimed support for his budget proposals from the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and said that his budget “upholds the dignity of the human person and is especially attentive to the long-term concerns of the poor.” But none of that is true.
The truth is that his budget hurts those Jesus called the "least of these" in society and that is why so many religious leaders - including Roman Catholics - have blasted his budget proposals.
But Ryan, a Roman Catholic, received today a pastoral letter from Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in response to a letter that Ryan sent that Catholic leader. Ryan claims the letter offers support for the House GOP budget - a claim that media outlets like Politico are repeating:
In the two-page letter, Dolan did not come out and expressly endorse the budget, insisting that he’s a pastor, “not a politician.”
But he praised Ryan’s attention to fiscal responsibility, the role of the family, the dignity of the person and human life and attention to the poor.
The letter also clearly disputes one of the chief rallying cries against the budget: That it would hurt the poor to benefit the rich.
“In any transition that seeks to bring new proposals to current problems in order to build a better future, care must be taken that those currently in need not be left to suffer,” Dolan wrote. “I appreciate your assurance that your budget would be attentive to such considerations and would protect those at risk in the processes and programs of such a transition. While appreciating these assurances, our duty as pastors will motivate our close attention to the manner in which they become a reality.”
That's no endorsement. In fact, the Archbishop is simply saying: we're watching and will continue and weigh in. Archbiship Dolan refers Ryan back to a letter sent by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to members of the U.S. House of Representatives on April 13, 2010 in which they wrote:
Access to affordable, life-affirming health care remains an urgent national priority. We are not opposed in principle to block grants, but fear that some proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid could leave more elderly and poor people without the assurance of adequate and affordable health care. Medicaid block grants may offer states more flexibility, but could leave states with inadequate resources as costs grow or more people need health care in future recessions. Converting Medicare into a voucher program could shift rising health care costs to vulnerable seniors and those who are poor without controlling these costs. We also fear the human and social costs of substantial cuts to programs that serve families working to escape poverty, especially food and nutrition, child development and education, and affordable housing.
International assistance is an essential tool to promote human life and dignity, advance solidarity with poorer nations, and enhance global security. It supports a wide range of life-saving programs, including: drugs to combat diseases; assistance to poor farmers and orphans; food aid for starving people; aid to victims of natural disasters; and help to refugees fleeing for their lives. The House Resolution appears to cut the foreign operations budget by more than a third. We do not support the entire foreign operations budget, but we strongly support poverty-focused international assistance. A cut of this magnitude is likely to devastate poverty-focused efforts and the people who depend on them. We support continuing reform of foreign assistance to make it even more effective for the poorest people in the poorest places on earth.
In short, the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops oppose the heart of the GOP's budget.
The conference is even represented as an endorser of a Circle of Protection Campaign - a coalition of faith groups fighting to protect anti-poverty programs from being cut.