The US bishops raised a number of issues in their letters on their moral criteria for the federal budget while writing that "the House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria." Here are some of the issues raised:
Medicare & Medicaid
The bishops wrote: "We warn against shifting rising health care costs to vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities, and those who are poor" (link).
The Ryan budget plan would shift Medicare to a voucher program and cap its spending. A typical 65-year old under Rep. Ryan's detailed plan for 2012 would pay about 68% of their coverage by 2030, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), compared to about 25% under current law. His 2013 plan lacks specifics to create an estimate.
Millions of seniors, people with disabilities, and poor children would lose also Medicaid coverage under the Ryan budget plan. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates between 31 and 44 million people would lose Medicaid as coverage is left to the states with budget problems.
The bishops wrote: "The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), provides vital food security to families during tough economic times. It is estimated that cuts proposed in this bill would deny assistance to two million families."
Tax Credits for Families and the Working Poor
The bishops wrote: "Low-income tax credits are pro-work, pro-family, and some of the most effective antipoverty programs in our nation. Every year, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable Child Tax Credit lift millions of American families out of poverty and help them live in dignity and with greater economic security" (link).
The danger to these tax credits lie in cutting tax rates, especially for high-earners, while ensuring the changes do not add to the deficit. Thus the tax credits for low and middle income earners would almost certainly be cut or eliminated (link).
The bishops also wrote about that they were concerned about cuts to on these issues:
job training programs, Pell grants (college assistance for students of low-income parents), "unfair proposal that would alter the Child Tax Credit to exclude children of hard-working, immigrant families" (meaning children who are US citizens but have a parent who is undocumented), affordable housing, the Social Services Block Grant to struggling communities, and international disaster and development assistance.
To learn more about a more positive vision for the budget, go to: www.faithfulbudget.org.
"We believe that a fundamental moral measure of our nation's budget policy is whether it enhances or undermines the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable members of our society. The needs of poor children and families of modest means are often overlooked. They deserve special priority as you allocate economic resources and burdens. The choices you make determine how future generations will be burdened and blessed."