House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Wednesday dismissed criticism brought against the Republican budget plan by Catholic bishops.
Referencing Matthew 25, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on Congress to put the poor first in budget priorities and rethink cuts to programs that benefited the least among us.
But Boehner, a Catholic, said at a press conference Wednesday the cuts were necessary, despite the impact they may have on the poor.
“What’s more of a concern to me is the fact that if we don’t start to make some decisions about getting our fiscal house in order there won’t be a safety net,” he explained. “There won’t be these programs.”
Boehner wished the bishops would “take a bigger look and the bigger look is if we don’t make decision these programs won’t exist.”
The House Agriculture Committee approved a measure on Wednesday that would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food stamps, by $133 billion over the next decade. Approximately 2 million individuals would be cut off from the program entirely, according to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities. Another 44 million would see their benefits cut.
In a letter to House Committee on Agriculture members, Bishops Stephen Blaire described the proposed cuts to the program as “unjustified and wrong.”
“If savings need to be achieved, cuts to agricultural subsidies and direct payments should be considered before cutting anti-hunger programs that help feed poor and vulnerable people,” he continued. “Given current high commodity prices and federal budget constraints, subsidies and direct payments can be reduced and targeted to small and moderate-sized farms.”
While Republicans sided with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop during the debate over contraceptive mandates for health insurers, they have ignored the bishops call to repeal Alabama’s harsh Republican-backed immigration law.
“If enforced, Alabama’s anti-immigration law will make it a crime to follow God’s command to be Good Samaritans,” the bishops said in a lawsuit. “[T]he anti-immigration law runs counter to the Christian spirit of compassion. The law is unconstitutional and a direct affront to the recognized and accepted word of God.”
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