Written by Anthony Moujaes
In response to Rep. Paul Ryan's comments Friday morning on his budget proposal, Sandy Sorensen, director of the United Church of Christ's offices in Washington, D.C., and other faith leaders took an opposing view saying the plan is neither "faithful or fair."
Ryan (R-Wis.) claims his budget proposal, which would eliminate Medicare and slash Medicaid, reflects the values of his Catholic faith. The vice presidential candidate is also the House Budget Committee chairman.
Sorensen, along with Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK and Alan van Capelle, CEO of Bend the Arc, contrasted Ryan's comments delivered at the Value Voters Summit, hosted by the Family Research Council. NETWORK and Bend the Arc are Catholic-based and Jewish social justice groups, respectively.
"Members of the United Church of Christ, just like members of many faith traditions, are also values voters," Sorensen said. "Our faith calls us to value the common good and to place the poor and most marginalized in our communities at the forefront of our concern. It reminds us that nations are judged by how they treat their poorest and most vulnerable people."
Sorensen cited the latest poverty numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau released this week, which show a national poverty rate of 15.1 percent. "One in seven of our neighbors are suffering on the economic margins," she said. "And income inequality has risen, the largest one-year increase in nearly two decades."
"Given the economic realities that are reflected in these new census figures, it is simply unconscionable that we would consider a proposed budget that would slash vital programs like food stamps and Medicaid when those are the very programs that are helping to keep many more Americans from slipping below the poverty line," Sorensen added.
Sorensen said Ryan's budget requires excessive sacrifice from vulnerable people, and is inconsistent with values and vision of a fair society that provides opportunities for all. And van Capelle said the plan doesn't care for the poor, but instead subverts them by eliminating key social support services.
"The Romney/Ryan plan seeks to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the nation's most vulnerable and puts forth policies that abandon those who cannot care for themselves," van Capelle said.
Campbell is among a group of religious leaders that have asked Congress to pass a Faithful Budget that balances priorities and does not increase the burden on struggling Americans.
"In the richest nation on earth, we are not bankrupt, we are not lacking in funds to care for all in our society," Campbell said. "The essence of the Faithful Budget is to acknowledge the truth that none of the social service programs that Congressman Ryan proposes to cut has helped create the deficit."