NETWORK firmly believes that the federal budget is a moral document because it presents the clearest expression of our nation’s priorities. Just as a family prioritizes expenditures and decides how it will cover those expenses, so does a nation.
NETWORK analyzes aspects of the federal budget each year in light of our faith, calling upon the totality of our Catholic social justice tradition. We are reminded that we are responsible for all of humanity and our varied ecosystems; and that we are to treat others as Jesus has before us.
We seek federal budget priorities built on justice, economic equity and compassion for those who struggle for economic survival.
Federal budget proposals from the House of Representatives in recent years have made it impossible to meet this goal. Families are falling between the cracks, unable to receive assistance from programs for which they are eligible. Greater restrictions have been added, further limiting eligibility for programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as “food stamps”), housing vouchers and child care assistance.
In recent years, Congress has also threatened government shutdowns that were sometimes related to raising the debt ceiling.
Recovery from the recent recession has been slower than from those in the past – and is being labeled a “jobless recovery.” Job numbers began to pick up late in 2014, continuing, however, without wages increasing for those who are working. Additionally, well-paying jobs lost in the recession are being replaced by minimum-wage and low-wage jobs.
As wealthy corporations and individuals benefitted from tax policies, the wealth of those in the middle and those struggling to succeed economically declined steeply. This has exacerbated the wealth gap.
There have been some recent efforts to reverse economic disparities and unjust policies, but the work is complicated by our current economic problems. Congress and the people of this nation must make difficult choices. For example, we must deal with proposed spending cuts, except within the Pentagon budget, while human-needs programs are not receiving the funding they need. We must also look at tax policies that favor those with the most over those with less.
One of the efforts to find budget solutions is the Faithful Budget.
NETWORK is currently working on several issues related to U.S. tax policies. These include:
Also of deep concern, our rising national debt will result in deep financial problems for future generations if we don’t deal with it in a responsible manner now.
Our national priorities must be refocused to prioritize the needs of the following groups who continue to receive less than fair treatment: