Bush budget 'in opposition to biblical values' - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 8, 2005

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Bush budget 'in opposition to biblical values'

-8/02/05

Following the release of the Bush administration's 2.6 trillion dollar spending plans for 2006, Christian campaigners are suggesting that the stage is now set for one of the most heated budget debates in years.

As feared by demonstrators at the President's recent inauguration the budget includes increases in military spending while at the same time proposing major cuts to domestic programs that benefit people living in poverty, which campaigners say is at odds with 'biblical values'.

Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church in the US, Frank T. Griswold, warned several weeks ago that the budget is a 'moral document'. But proposed cuts to federal programs will hit food stamps, Medicaid, and public housing, and campaigners say, will endanger the already precarious economic security of millions of U.S families.

"President Bush has presented a budget to Congress that eliminates or severely cuts dozens of programs," said Mary Ellen McNish, head of the international social justice organization, The American Friends Service Committee.

"Shouldn't our nation commit ourselves anew to our Constitution's promise to form a more perfect union, establish justice, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity?"

Cuts in federal aid to education and changes to the rules governing Social Security, the tax code, and eligibility for basic services will lock in increasing inequality and poverty in the United States, where 36 million people already struggle to survive at the poverty level, say campaigners.

To call attention to the "growing threat to economic security", the American Friends Service Committee has launched a "Save Our Services (SOS!)" campaign that supports a federal budget that strengthens programs vital to the health and well-being of average Americans.

"Millions of Americans can't find jobs and millions of workers can't make ends meet because of low wages," says SOS! campaign director, Roberta Spivek.

"As people of conscience, we cannot accept a budget that changes the rules governing Social Security, the tax code, and eligibility for basic services in ways that increase inequality and poverty."

At stake, say Christian campaigners, are competing visions of good society.

"Our country faces a fundamental choice," McNish adds. "Should the United States revert to a pre-New Deal era where people are left to fend for themselves in the face of poverty, low wages, sickness, old age, an increasingly insecure jobs in the global economy?"

SOS! is also aiming to help communities organize to achieve economic security and human rights. The effort, led by AFSC organizers in California, New Hampshire, New York, West Virginia and other states, includes a new online "blog" where people can share their visions of a good society and budget priorities, and public advocacy for a budget that reflects widely shared values. A free action kit will be available on the campaign's website.

The Sojourners community based in Washington DC is also mobilising its supporters against the budget priorities. Taking up Griswold's theme that 'budgets are moral documents' the community is suggesting that the proposed budget "reflects a set of priorities that stand in clear opposition to biblical values."

"Paying attention to the poorest among us is arguably the most central biblical imperative-not increased spending on nuclear warheads and tax cuts for the rich" a statement on their web site says.

"When considering a document as important as this one, it is imperative that our leaders consider its impact on people living in poverty."

"A budget that serves the rich and hurts the poor is anti-family and anti-values."

Bush's budget proposals include:

- Making permanent the tax cuts of 2001 - 70% of which benefited the wealthiest 20% of U.S. citizens

- The elimination of block grants that aid poor communities

- Making it more difficult for working poor families with children to be on Medicaid

- A 355 million dollar cut to programs that promote safe and drug-free schools

- Cuts to housing and urban development programs

- The elimination of 48 educational programs

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