US Catholic Faith in Real Life

UPDATE: Lifting the debt ceiling on the backs of the poor

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

UPDATE: A group of Catholic social justice leaders yesterday issued a statement appealing to the White House and Congressional leaders to keep the poor and vulnerable in mind during these negotiations--to what effect, time will tell. I am glad that some Catholics are finding their voice on this, but I wish the bishops would weigh in a little more forcefully than they have. A series of letters is one thing, a press conference in Washington, DC is quite another.

It is simply unconscionable that we should be seeking to reduce our deficits with cuts to those programs--Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid--that do the most good in keeping vulnerable people out of poverty, while exempting our $700 billion war machine, the obscenely profitable corporations, hedge fund managers, and the extremely wealthy. There is no justice there, especially as the poor languish without health care, suffer poor wages, and rely on a public infrastructure left to decay.

ORIGINAL POST: As "negotiations" to resolve the debt ceiling question continue, I am a bit mystified that no one seems to care that the major savings everyone is looking for are coming from Medicaid, Medicare, and other "entitlements" that keep the sick and the old out of poverty. I pointed this out in my July column, but I thought the budget deal struck last April, which but more than $1 billion from community health centers and the WIC feeding program, was categorically immoral, at least in those line items. And I still can't get over the how we can't even consider any taxes whatsoever to help get our fiscal house in order. I guess it's more politically expedient to kick people out of Medicaid.

Politicians are quick to invoke our "Judeo-Christian" heritage, but they are just as quick to completely ignore it. When it comes to the marriage debate, you can't get away from the Bible, but when we start talking money, you can't get anywhere near it.

Much of the Hebrew scriptures are devoted to ensuring that "widows and orphans"--the most disadvantaged--are cared for and protected, and prophet after prophet denounces the leaders of the people when they fail in their duty. Catholic social teaching about the common good is the remedy to this problem, as John Gehring, correctly in my opinion, argues here at But I'm not sure anyone in Washington is listening.