Catholic Social Teaching tells us that we should always have our mind on those who are poor. If they have a hard time fulfilling their needs we as a nation should be able to help them since we are “the richest nation” in the world. We cannot let our fellow neighbor starve; we as a nation are better than that.
But this concern for the most vulnerable in our nation is not a priority of the Republican budget proposal for FY 2012.
One important program for mothers, infants and children is WIC. This Special Supplemental Nutrition Programs helped 9.2 million people in 2010. But proposed cuts would reduce those numbers by eliminating from 325,000 to 475,000 spots. This would result from cutting $833 million in next year’s budget. Is this providing for the most vulnerable? The Republican plan also includes cuts in other vital programs that help our senior citizens and other low-income people in our nation.
One program facing cuts is the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, or CSFP. The CSFP provides food for more than 600,000 low-income families every month, and 96% of these low-income families are seniors. They want to cut $38 million from this program and $63 million from The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP. This program helps stock food for emergency food banks that provides a nutritional food source for low-income families. These types of budgets cuts should not be allowed.
Meanwhile, Republicans are helping those in our nation who do not need help; they are the ones who are benefitting from the extended Bush tax cuts. In particular, 321,000 households (income >$1million) received a tax break in 2011 worth approximately $139,199 or $2,900 per week. If we take Bush tax cuts for one week, the $866 million would be more than enough to cover the proposed cuts in WIC. Or if we take those same Bush tax cuts for one day, there would be $120 million. That would be more than enough to cover the proposed cuts of $110 million to CSFP and TEFAP.
Is this the type of government we want? Do we want a government that neglects people who are poor and continually rewards those who do not need it? Many Republican proposals hint they want a government like that. Catholic Social Teaching once again calls our nation and its citizens to be mindful of those who are not able to meet their basic needs. What is needed is a fair and equitable approach to balancing our budget. This means providing programs to help low-income families and eliminate all Bush tax cuts that only help a small group of people who don’t need help. In the end, we all have to come together to help with budget concerns and those who are in need.
Melissa Boteach (Center for American Progress), from Budget Choices Up Close, 14 June 2011