Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Update on the Federal Budget: What’s Ahead for the Social Safety Net

As part of his work at the OPW this summer, Beatitudes Society Summer Fellow Chris McCain discusses proposals for the FY2012 federal budget and their potential implications for programs that support poor and vulnerable populations.

On preparing and sharing his presentation, Chris writes:

As a moral document, the federal budget expresses the values and priorities of the American people. In the current debt-ceiling negotiations, both Congress and the President have proposed plans that, to varying degrees, would make significant cuts or changes to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other programs that serve low-income and vulnerable populations. For the most part, if any of these changes are passed, many people would experience a decrease in benefits or a complete dis-enrollment from programs they depend on for their livelihoods.

As a person of faith who seeks to heed Jesus' 
call in Matthew 25 to pay particular attention to "the least of these" in our midst, I am very concerned that the forthcoming deficit reduction package would place disproportionate burdens on those who can least afford it -- the poor, sick, disabled, and elderly. To whatever extent possible, we must not allow this to happen.

In this presentation, I explain and examine the social implications of some of the basic proposals that have been suggested by Democrats and Republicans. From the budget proposal introduced by the GOP and passed by the House of Representatives to possible changes to the Medicaid program which serves poor and disabled persons, I discuss several ideas that may make their way into a final compromise bill. While I firmly believe that reducing the long-term deficit is essential for our country's fiscal health and an important step toward stabilizing and growing the U.S. economy, it is critical that it be done morally and responsibly.

The fight over the federal budget will not be over anytime soon. Even if Congress meets 
the August 2, 2011, deadline to increase the national debt ceiling, the debate over the size and scope of the federal government will continue. To that end, I encourage you to contact your senators and tell them that the health and well-being of our brothers and sisters, as well as future generations, depends on essential investments and that a deficit reduction deal must include new revenues from those in society who can afford to pay.