Tag Archives: federal budget

Bussing for a More Just Budget

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

On his PBS program Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers recently featured a segment about the “Nuns on the Bus” tour that took place this summer when a group of Catholic nuns boarded a brightly lettered bus and zigzagged their way across nine states, from Iowa to Washington, D.C. The nuns had set out on a two-week journey of faith and compassion, seeking to draw national attention to the plight of the poor. Their purpose was not so much to inspire people to acts of private charity as to ring the bell for social justice. Their specific target was the federal budget passed this spring by the House of Representatives, crafted by Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, a Tea Party hero now the Republican candidate for vice-president.

The ostensible objective of the House budget is to forge “a path to prosperity” by cutting government spending and thereby getting the federal deficit under control. But was this the real aim the budget’s proponents had in their hearts? Budgets are usually written in an arcane jargon that only trained economists can understand, but the nuns had evidently done their homework and had realized what the budget would do. They could see that behind its claim to serious fiscal responsibility, the budget would actually bolster the wealth of the ultra-rich while passing on the bill to just about everyone else.
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Military Spending and Waging War on Hungry Children

Charles W. Elliott

This past week the U.S. House of Representatives approved a budget measure that would spend $29 billion more on war and preparing for war than even the Pentagon wanted. At the same time, the budget measure effectively launches an assault on the poor and hungry.  The New York Times reported that according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the House bill would push 1.8 million people off food stamps and could cost 280,000 children their school lunch subsidies. It would wipe out  health insurance coverage through the federal and state Children’s Health Insurance Program for 300,000 children. Eliminating the social services block grant to state and local governments would hit child abuse prevention programs, Meals on Wheels and child care.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in addition to cutting off nearly two million people from food stamps, the House Agriculture Committee portion of the budget measure would reduce food stamp benefits for more than 44 million others.  All in all, a quarter of the budget cuts in the bill would come from programs for the poor.
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Budget Slashing and Food Aid: Taking the Long View to Help the Hungry

Charles W. Elliott

The United States federal budget is in the news, and once again partisan U.S. political battles over the role of government, budget priorities, and fiscal policy place the world’s poor in the crosshairs. Often, behind the dry budgetary text are the cries of hungry children and the desperation of the poor.

How the richest nation in the world addresses the problem of hunger is not merely an obvious moral issue. Food security plays an important role in global stability and, therefore, our own national security. As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently said: “Our national security depends on feeding a growing world.” So does our domestic security. President John F. Kennedy wisely said: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” In the practice of giving, we serve even our own enlightened self-interest. Continue reading