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Press Release: Faith Leaders Speak Out on Federal Budget and Sequestration

FOR RELEASE: November 5, 2013                                                                           

CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224,  sniedringhaus@networklobby.org

Washington DC:  During a Capitol Hill briefing today, faith leaders called for an end to sequestration as they also reminded Congress that the federal budget is a moral document that reflects our nation’s priorities.

Sequestration has already harmed vital programs that help people at the economic margins. Deliberately hurting struggling families while maintaining tax breaks for those who are wealthy is immoral. Our nation’s deficit and debt problems must not be solved on the backs of people in poverty.

Sister Simone Campbell, NETWORK Executive Director, commented: “The interfaith community has alternatives to the sequester. It basically comes down to ensuring ‘reasonable revenue for responsible programs.’ This commonsense approach calls on Congress to increase tax revenue in order to pay for effective and accountable programs. It also requires Congress to hold the Pentagon accountable. In these times, Congress cannot continue to give the Pentagon a blank check. There needs to be an audit, accountability measures, competition in awarding contracts, etc. The Pentagon needs to be held to the same level of scrutiny as safety-net programs. We have stabilized our debt as a percentage of GDP, now we must invest in our future. Revenue, accountability and growing the economy are the way forward. These are the real answers to sequestration and creating a healthy economy for the 100%.”

Other speakers included: Leslie G. Woods (Domestic Poverty and Environmental Issues, Presbyterian Church); Rev. Michael C. Durst (UCC Minister, Adviser on Tax Justice to the Presbyterian Church); and Sister Marge Clark, BVM (NETWORK Lobbyist).

They reminded those present that faith-based organizations have worked together to create the blueprints of a “Faithful Budget” that reflects not only faith values, but also the values of our nation. These budget guidelines call on Congress to protect funding that enables vulnerable people in our nation to live in dignity and lift themselves out of poverty. For many years, our organizations have said that families living in poverty, people with disabilities, children and seniors, and those who are hungry and homeless should not have their struggles increased by decisions made in Washington. This is especially true at a time when wealth and income gaps in our nation have risen to unconscionable levels.

In addition to restoring adequate funding for safety-net programs, Congress must address wasteful military spending and tax loopholes for wealthy individuals and corporations that keep deficits artificially high. A key step in addressing deficits (which were already decreasing prior to sequestration) is a balanced approach that funds safety-net programs and critical infrastructure improvements while eliminating wasteful military spending. We must also bring in reasonable revenue. That means tax increases for those at the top of the economic ladder.