US Bishops on Deficit Debate: How Will the Poor Be Treated?

Remind Politicians That It’s Not About Which Party Wins

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WASHINGTON D.C., SEPT. 1, 2011 ( The U.S. bishops are reminding government that reducing the debt is a moral issue, and one that will be measured not by which party wins, but by how the poor are treated.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, and Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, leaders of the international and domestic policy committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), affirmed this in a statement Wednesday.

Addressing the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the bishops stated: «The moral measure of this historic process is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how the jobless, hungry, homeless and poor are treated.»

«We understand that the fiscal status quo is unsustainable, with mounting deficits and growing debt for our children,» the bishops wrote. «We also recognize the economic and moral importance of creating jobs with decent wages and spurring economic growth as essential strategies to improve our economy, decrease poverty and reduce future deficits and debts. 

«The question is how to fulfill the demands of justice and moral obligations to future generations and protect the lives and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable.»

Not the time

The bishops cautioned against substantial cuts to «programs that serve families working to make ends meet and escape poverty.»

They said that it is not the time to «weaken the national safety net or to make disproportionate cuts to programs that can help low and moderate income families avert crisis and live in dignity.»

They also spoke about the danger of undermining programs of international aid, «an essential tool to promote human life and dignity, advance solidarity with poorer nations, and enhance global security.»

And the bishops cautioned against cuts to funding for refugee admissions and overseas refugee assistance programs.

Bishops Hubbard and Blaire observed that «shared sacrifice by all» is necessary, and advocated the elimination of «unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.»

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