Here is something interesting, from the National Catholic Reporter. John Boehner is a devout Catholic, but it seems that not all Catholic leaders are down with Boehner’s understanding of Catholic social teachings, and in the light of those teachings they would like him to reconsider his support for laws that eliminate programs that help the most vulnerable members of society. The following is part of a letter that a group of Catholic academics have sent to Rep. Boehner on the occasion of his invitation to give the commencement address at
Notre Dame University the Catholic University of America:
Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings. From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.
The 2012 budget you shepherded to passage in the House of Representatives guts long-established protections for the most vulnerable members of society. It is particularly cruel to pregnant women and children, gutting Maternal and Child Health grants and slashing $500 million from the highly successful Women Infants and Children nutrition program. When they graduate from WIC at age 5, these children will face a 20% cut in food stamps. The House budget radically cuts Medicaid and effectively ends Medicare. It invokes the deficit to justify visiting such hardship upon the vulnerable, while it carves out $3 trillion in new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. In a letter speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop Howard Hubbard detailed the anti-life implications of this budget in regard to its impact on poor and vulnerable American citizens. They explained the Church’s teachings in this regard clearly, insisting that:
A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.
Specifically, addressing your budget, the letter expressed grave concern about changes to Medicaid and Medicare that could leave the elderly and poor without adequate health care. The bishops warned further:
We also fear the human and social costs of substantial cuts to programs that serve families working to escape poverty, especially food and nutrition, child development and education, and affordable housing.
NCR editor Michael Sean Winters observes “that the signatories do not call on Boehner to decline to give his address, nor on CUA to revoke its invitation, as many conservatives called on Notre Dame [University] to revoke its invitation to President Obama in 2009. They understand that a university should be a place where all voices and viewpoints are heard. But, they are well within their right to ask Boehner to explain how his budgetary proposals do, or do not, conform to traditional Catholic social teaching.”
Meanwhile, on a purely pragmatic level, James Rowley and Mike Dorning point out, over at Bloomberg, that the House Speaker’s “prescriptions for growing the U.S. economy and reducing the nation’s debt [are] built … on several assertions that are contradicted by market indicators and government reports.” And a Reuters survey reveals that “17 out of 29 fund managers and economists representing major Wall Street bond dealing firms said the Republicans’ favored option of spending cuts alone would not … work” to reduce the deficit, and that “tax increases must be part of the mix.”