Reform Movement Tells Congress: Deficit Reduction Must Not Increase Poverty
Yesterday the Religious Action Center sent a letter to all Members of Congress urging them to protect the poor in any deficit reduction agreement. As the end of year approaches and we near the “fiscal cliff,” Members of Congress are meeting with increasing urgency to create a deal that would reduce the deficit, or produce a framework to do so, before January 1. People of faith across the nation are speaking out on the rapid pace of these negotiations and the potential harm they could cause the programs that help the poorest among us.
Any deficit reduction agreement must not increase poverty, especially in this time of economic recovery when those in poverty are most vulnerable. People living below or near the poverty line are particularly dependent on the tools provided by social safety net programs like SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit to help life themselves out of poverty.
In a letter to Congress, Rabbi David Saperstein wrote, “The Jewish tradition teaches that, ‘…If all the troubles of the world are assembled on one side and poverty is on the other, poverty would outweigh them all’ (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 31:12). Millions in our American community continue to struggle every day to meet even their own and their families’ most basic needs. This is morally intolerable in a nation of such great abundance and wealth. Any deficit reduction agreement must not further increase poverty or inequality.”
Image courtesy of National Women's Law Center.