House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the GOP's budget proposal today - one that would extend massive tax breaks to millionaires and big business while cutting the safety net and reducing medical coverage for the elderly. Religious leaders - myself included - immediately blasted the proposal.
This morning I released a statement saying:
The Ryan budget leaves the least of these behind while aiding millionaires and if adopted would force faith communities that partner with government agencies to close programs that assist children, the elderly and unemployed workers living with their families in shelters. Rep. Ryan’s budget would increase poverty and suffering. That is why I join so many religious leaders across the nation in calling on Congress to reject this immoral blueprint for America’s future.
Roman Catholics, Mainline Christians, Evangelical Christians, Muslim Americans and Jewish Americans have all made statements today critical of the Ryan plan.
Father Thomas Kelly, Catholic priest from Elkhorn, WI and a constituent of Rep. Paul Ryan issued a statement saying:
“As a constituent of Congressman Ryan and a Catholic priest, I’m disappointed by his cruel budget plan and outraged that he defends it on moral grounds. Ryan is Catholic, and he knows that justice for the poor and economic fairness are core elements of our church’s social teaching. It’s shameful that he disregarded these principles in his budget.
Think Progress notes that:
The budget unveiled by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) this morning includes substantial changes to the American tax code, both for corporations and individuals. Ryan’s tax plan shrinks the number of income tax brackets from six to two, with marginal tax rates set at 10 percent and 25 percent. He repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), slices the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent, and repeals all of the health care taxes contained in the Affordable Care Act. It also repeals the repatriation tax on profits corporations earn overseas then bring back to the United States.
In all, those tax breaks amount to a $3 trillion giveaway to the richest Americans and corporations, according to the Tax Policy Center. Repealing the repatriation tax would add roughly $130 billion to that.
The Rev. Michael Livingston, director of the National Council of Churches’ Poverty Initiative responded:
“Rep. Ryan’s budget uses the deficit as an excuse to pursue an ideological agenda that punishes poor people who can’t find a job. If Rep. Ryan wants us to take his moralizing about the national debt seriously, he should have the courage to ask for shared sacrifice from his millionaire donors instead of kicking poor families while they’re down."
The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis, Indiana noted:
When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” he didn’t just mean exchanging cups of sugar with the family next door. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus showed that being a neighbor means reaching out to anyone, anywhere, in their need. A federal budget that slices away at funds for hungry children and their families, that abandons senior citizens, that reduces life-sustaining foreign aid, is a budget that goes against the teachings of Jesus. America can do better! The Good Samaritan saw a need, reached out to meet the need, and then enlisted the aid of others to help. Through a compassionate federal budget, we can do the same – and be a stronger nation for it!
Religious leaders will hold a press conference later this week to talk more about what a faithful budget that cares for all Americans would look like.
People of faith need to contact their members of Congress now and tell them the GOP budget proposal is immoral and that there is a better path for America. Learn more at Faithful Budget.