Christian leaders split sharply over the 2006 federal budget and deficit-reduction bill. They differed not just on how Washington can help the poor, vulnerable, and aged, but also the extent that government should.
The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 on February 1. The spending measure trims $39.5 billion from the federal budget over five years. The largest cuts target Medicare and Medicaid. The act also reduced $343 million for foster-care programs and $5 billion over 10 years to states for enforcing child support.
Many Christian leaders condemned the spending reductions as immoral. "Today's vote was a callous vote," the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said in a statement on February 1. "In spite of five straight years of increasing hunger and poverty, this Congress decided to cut aid for the poor to help finance tax cuts for the wealthy."
Well, it's not quite a simple as the Rev. Mr. Beckmann paints it, but he is correct in that the needs are becoming greater as the safety net becomes skimpier.
One of the most attractive things about Bread for the World is their appeal to both sides of the political divide. It's not a simple tradeoff between tax cuts and aid to the poor. It is a question of priorities. When the tough choices need to be made (as any reasonable person recoognizes), organizations such as Bread for the World, proceeding from a clear sense of the Lord's calling, ask our policy makers to see to the poor among us as a top priority.