In these tough economic times with huge budget deficits and numerous proposals to either increase or reduce taxes and spending, the U.S. Bishops have issued a call to the nation’s political leaders to protect poor and vulnerable people in budget debates.
In their letter to the U.S. Senate the U.S. Bishops reminded that august chamber that “the moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated.”
The church teaches that government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all citizens not only those who are powerful and influential. Every budget decision should be measured by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity not how well it accommodates powerful special interests. The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or living in poverty should be a priority in developing a budget as political leaders most always consider “the least of these.”
Ordinary workers and families who continue to struggle to work and live with dignity during difficult economic times have little access to the marbled hallways of the nation’s capital and as a result their voice is not often heard. We urge government leaders to use a just framework in determining budget decisions that affect the poor and vulnerable of our society. All spending and tax proposals should be appraised in light of their impact upon the working poor most especially children living in poverty across our country. “The least of these” Jesus speaks of in St. Matthew’s Gospel still live all throughout our nation and most certainly have the most convincing moral claim on the nation’s collective conscience and also upon our common resources.