The Federal Budget

 President Obama's budget proposal for the coming year
UCC Collegium of Officers' Response and Analyses of the Proposal
February 15, 2012

The Statement from the UCC's Collegium of Officers President Obama released his proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins October 2012 and runs through Sept 2013. While we do not agree with all its provisions, we believe it moves the country in a positive direction.

We recognize the constraints facing the nation and the President. A number of factors including the weak economy, high levels of unemployment, unfunded wars, corporate tax loopholes, and cuts in income taxes skewed to favor the wealthiest Americans have reduced tax revenues to historic lows and created a large federal budget deficit. These limit the ability of the federal government to perform its essential roles to help those in need and promote the common good. (See General Synod resolution “For the Common Good.”)

We are grieved that in a country of great wealth, many of our nation’s households are struggling. Flawed economic policies and a political system too captured by moneyed interests have driven the growth of inequality and the decay of our nation’s industrial and economic infrastructure.

As people of faith, we must continue to call for a federal budget that reflects our values of justice and integrity. We have a particular call to stand with the most marginalized in our society, and with all those who struggle in these difficult economic times. The Fiscal Year 2013 budget presents us with opportunity and challenge. Let us embrace a call to live together in community, sharing in the common purpose of caring for our neighbors here in the United States and around the world.”

 

 Analysis of the President's budget, fiscal year 2013 (Oct. 2012 - Sept 2013) 

Job Creation.  Unemployment has been at record levels for over three years now and, despite some recent improvements, researchers report there are still nearly four unemployed workers for each job opening. We continue to view job creation as the nation’s priority. The President’s budget calls for $350 billion in job creation measures including money for transportation projects and school modernization. While this amount is too small to reduce unemployment to the levels that were typical before the recession, it is an important and welcome help.

Deficit reduction.  Given the fragile state of the national and international economies, experts believe that extreme deficit reduction at this time would be detrimental. However, given the unsustainable level of the federal deficit, it must be reduced in future years. This perspective is reflected in the budget proposal. In 2013, the deficit would be one-third smaller than in 2012 and will continue to shrink in future years.

Revenues. To reduce the deficit and help pay for needed programs, the budget also calls for some tax increases. These will fall on those households and corporations that have benefited the most in recent years. The President calls for the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to end for households with incomes above $250,000 ($200,000 for singles). Additional money would come from reversing cuts in the estate tax that were enacted over the past two years and closing some tax loopholes for oil and gas companies.

Expenditures.  We do have concerns about the large spending reductions proposed for important social programs. The Budget Control Act of 2011 passed by Congress last summer limits both military and non-military discretionary spending and these cuts – totaling some $1 trillion over 10 years -- are reflected in the budget proposal. The President also proposes cuts in a group of entitlement programs including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Food Stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Unemployment Insurance, military retirement and veterans’ benefits.  Important safety net programs are already stretched thin and, in some cases, current spending is inadequate. We will need to continue to advocate for strengthening the frayed safety net.

We believe that God calls upon all of us – as individuals, communities of faith, and a society acting together through our government – to protect the vulnerable and promote the dignity of all  people. The Fiscal Year 2013 budget presents us with both opportunity and challenge. Let us embrace a call to live together in community, not agreeing on everything, but sharing in the common purpose of caring for our neighbors here in the United States and around the world, and sustainably caring for our environment. We call on the Congress and the Administration to shape a federal budget that promotes the common good, values each individual and his or her livelihood, helps lift the undue burden on the poor, and calls for the wealthiest to share fairly in building our nation’s future.

 Faith-based Allies' Assessments of the Budget

Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs

Ecumenical Faithful Budget Campaign: here and here

Coalition on Human Needs, posted on the Huffington Post website

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CONTACT INFO

Ms. Edith Rasell, Ph.D.
Minister for Economic Justice
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3709
raselle@ucc.org