The budget crisis to reduce the deficit places our nation on the path of making some difficult but necessary decisions. We must evaluate our spending and revenues with the consideration of cutting the former and raising the latter. As traditionally expected Democrats tend to be more protective on social spending and Republicans often times can be counted on to keep taxes as low as possible. These positions should assure us a balanced approach in developing the remedy for this budget crisis. But it seems that is not the case.
I was initially astounded at how far the Democrats have conceded with this most recent budget proposal and I am bound to say that as I read the details I could not support it morally except within the framework of a political compromise. As astounded as I was with the plan however I could scarcely believe that the “Republicans have been quick to reject it.” According to this study it describes the Republian counter-offer as “reflecting little or no movement on tax increase and calling for even deeper spending cuts… including severe Medicaid cuts that would impose significant harm on low income children, parents, and elderly and disabled people.”
Religious groups have said time and time again that a budget is a moral document. As members of the Christian community we recall the words of Jesus who reminds us: “Where your treasure is so is your heart.” (Lk, 12:34) Examining our budget for the purpose of reducing the deficit gives us the opportunity to create a public moral statement like no other. The decisions we make with regards to the budget will demonstrate our true national priorities and moral compass. It is the democratic tradition of our nation to compromise on difficult decisions that need to be made and such ought to be the case in this instance, but to witness an uncompromising attitude on what is nothing less than an immoral position is simply scandalous. To not allow a fair taxation of corporations and the upper class and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts is socially irresponsible and ethically immoral. Especially since the Bush “tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan accounted for $500 Billion of the deficit in 2009 and will account for almost $7 trillion in deficits in 2009 through 2019.” (Center of Budget and Policy Priorities)
Our present budget crisis ought to be a teachable moment for us. Instead of defending the interest of a particular group we as a nation out to be challenged to adopt the lens of valuing the common good of all. The common good of this nation will be evaluated by how we treat our most marginalized and disempowered brethren recognizing that as Christians we are called to serve “the least of these.” (Mt, 25:40) This is the basis of our Christian principle and Scriptural mandate which has come to be known as the “Preferential Option for the Poor:”
“The “option for the poor,” … states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The extent of their suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons. These wounds will be healed only by greater solidarity with the poor and among the poor themselves.” – USCCB, Economic Justice for All, #88