I confess, I am deeply disappointed in our president and our congress. It seems to me that the politicians have arrived at a compromise that is morally flawed to a degree that I would have rather seen the government shut down.
The compromise means that we are making much larger cuts in the essential services for the poorest and most marginalized in America than we are in the military and at the same time we are doing nothing to increase income from taxes, even among those who could easily pay a little more without any negative impact on their families, their corporations or the economy.
One example: One budget cut is $600 million from the Community Health Centers program. This is a large percentage of the total budget for this program which provides the only primary health care services to over 5 million of our poorest and most vulnerable neighbors.
A budget is a moral document. So, why cut here? This is not about abortion (an issue about which I am conflicted), nor is it about welfare (there are no benefits involved). It will cost all of us more by increasing our private health insurance costs because untreated illness will end up in emergency rooms instead of being cared for in the more appropriate context of a community health center. No one has ever said that the community health centers were a location of significant fraud or waste. These are small, local organizations run on a shoe-string.
The display of selfishness and greed in this package is so obvious that I cannot in good conscience vote again for any of the politicians who enginereed it! We are being overwhelmed by the fears of the wealthy that somehow in the current situation they are going to lose something. There is no evidence of any actual losses of consequence to date. Yes, my retirement accounts are worth less than they were. I may have to postpone my retirement. But that is not the same thing as being forced out on the street with no access to health care.
Many of these politicians are fans of the ideas expressed in the novels of Ayn Rand. (In fact, it appears that one key Senator may be named after her.) I do not think that any authentic follower of Jesus can accept these concepts. They are clearly contrary to His demand that we care for the neighbor. Remember, that her concepts deal not just with what should be done by the government and what should be done by private charity, but with the whole concept of helping others in any form. Jesus says that her approach is cruel, unjust and immoral. The fact that we have leading politicians who openly profess agreement with her immoral lifestyle and philosophy is a measure of how low American morality has declined.
As more details emerge from this compromise budget, the more I am sickened. I would challenge all Christians to increase your personal giving to local, faith-based charities that serve the poor. It is going to require triple the giving you did last year to make up for the cuts in this budget.
I would be happy to cut the budget further than the compromise. I would be happy to forgo all highway funds and drive on even more pot holes and dangerous bridges than I do now. I would be happy to cut it until it balances. But not on the backs of the poor. That is simply wrong. This is a demonstration of the moral weakness of our political leaders. And if we keep re-electing them it reflects clearly on our own morality.