Commentary: People, not politics
Written by The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo
September 29, 2013

People in every corner of this nation are struggling to make ends meet.  Parents are working hard to provide very basic needs for their families; nutritional food, health care, housing, child care, etc.  Our elderly are frightened of not having money for heat with winter coming; praying that they don't get sick.  Communities are crumbling under a cloud of violence and desperation.

While our elected leaders stroll around the marble lined rooms and theatrical tactics are blaming the "other side" for the ills of this country, the needs of its people are being overlooked.  They need to be called on their irresponsible behavior.  Personal egos and ambition for higher office must be put aside for the sake of saving this nation from a moral and financial catastrophe. 

The events of the last few days on Capitol Hill have left me extremely disappointed; actually pretty disgusted.  The lack of leadership being exhibited by elected officials in Washington DC is frightful.  Our nation prides itself as the most effective democracy in the world that cares for the common good.  There is little evidence of those values being demonstrated by those entrusted with making decisions that affect millions. 

Because policymakers have not yet approved a full budget for the 2014 fiscal year, they will need to pass a temporary measure (called a Continuing Resolution) by September 30 in order to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. If that happens, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will not receive paychecks.  Examples of the service impacts include: a) delays or cuts in unemployment and veterans' benefits; b) suspended cleanup at toxic waste sites; c) no new FHA home loan guarantees;  d) delayed processing of visas, passports, and other government applications.  At the heart of the matter is that Congress is still tied up in the perpetual battle regarding the funding of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obama Care, which is the law of the land (passed in 2010).  

We joined with faith community partners in the following communication to our elected leaders.

The federal budget does not belong to Congress; it is a common fund formed of tax revenues from us all, established to fund the shared infrastructure, wellbeing, and moral commitments of our society.  It is a moral statement that sets the direction for our nation. As people of faith we find it morally and ethically irresponsible to blockade the process by which we provide for our nation's shared needs in a bid to force any individual legislative priority.

Similarly, to propel America into financial default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling for spending already approved by Congress is likewise reckless. Shuttering the federal government or defaulting on the nation's financial commitments is likely to reverse our fragile economic recovery, punish the middle class, and deeply harm the most vulnerable of our citizens.

Participate in the democratic process – urge our elected officials to put people first!  One way of doing that is to write and call your representative, or take action by going to our website

The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo is one of the UCC's national officers and Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries.

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