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Weighing Moral Options for Federal Budget

February 11, 2011

By Marianne Comfort, Institute Justice Team

It’s disturbing to hear members of Congress propose budget cuts that could severely impact services to persons who are poor and vulnerable. That’s why the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas has joined a couple of coalitions that are suggesting a more balanced approach to reduce the deficit, including slashing military spending and raising revenues through taxes.

One of these newly formed coalitions is SAVE for All (Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All), which is made up of national and local advocacy groups, service providers, faith‐based organizations, labor, civil rights groups, and policy experts. Its statement of principles includes protecting low- and moderate-income people in budget and deficit reduction proposals and supporting deficit reduction plans that include additional revenues drawn from equitable sources.

Another coalition is the New Priorities Network, an initiative to fund urgently needed jobs and restore vital public services by substantially cutting military spending. The theme here is to “move the money” from the military to programs that serve local communities.

Participating actively in these efforts provides yet another way for the Sisters of Mercy to live out their vow to serve people who suffer from poverty, sickness and lack of education, with a special concern for women and children.

Our voices are joining others who worry about the injustice of preserving tax cuts for the wealthy while considering massive cuts in funding for education, public health, affordable housing, and other vital domestic programs. Our voices are also joining others in crying out for cuts to military spending that does little to promote true national security in order to preserve services that provide some level of real security for millions of Americans each and every day.

The budget proposals are changing by the day as fiscally conservative Republicans push for deeper and deeper spending cuts. The House Appropriations Committee chair first proposed trimming $74 billion from President Obama’s current fiscal year budget, but then upped that to $100 billion due to pressure within his own party.

We do know that programs targeted for major cuts include WIC (Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition assistance), job training, heating assistance for low-income households, community health centers and community service blog grants that fund an array of community education, health and social service programs in poor, underserved, largely inner-city neighborhoods.

Members of Congress need to hear that they’re not just dealing with the mathematics of trying to reduce the federal deficit; they are suggesting policies that will be destructive to many individuals, families and communities.

Sisters of Mercy, Associates, Companions, staff of our ministries and friends around the country can help get this message out in two ways:

  • If you work at a social services ministry that receives federal funding, even if it comes through the state or local level, please share with us a description of your services, the number of people served (and if that has grown during the recession) and what impact a 20% cut from the federal budget would mean for the people you serve. You can send this information We will share this information with Congress, the media and on a website that will present such stories from organizations around the country.
  • Send an email message to your Representative urging her/him to support a budget that does the least harm possible to the most vulnerable among us.
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