House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R) on Monday denied claims that the Republicans’ reconciliation budget would hurt those most in need.
Catholic bishops in the United States have claimed that budget cuts in the legislation are “unjustified and wrong” because they would hurt the poor.
“You know, I think around here we spend too much of our time and our intellectual effort measuring compassion for those in need by measuring inputs,” Ryan said. “But we are not measuring outcomes. Are these programs working? Are people getting out of poverty. We need to focus on that.”
The proposed budget is meant to prevent a 10 percent cut in defense spending and 8 percent cut in non-defense discretionary spending from taking effect. The automatic cuts were part of the debt ceiling deal signed into law last year, and will take effect in 2013 unless Congress passes a budget that provides $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction measures.
The Republican budget plan would cut programs for low- and moderate-income people while allowing defense funding to remain well above the automatic 10 percent cut, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on Ryan, a practicing Catholic, and other members of Congress to put the poor first in budget priorities.
“The Catholic bishops of the United States recognize the serious deficits our country faces, and we acknowledge that Congress must make difficult decisions about how to allocate burdens and sacrifices and balance resources and needs,” Bishop Stephen E. Blaire wrote Tuesday in a letter (PDF) to Congress. “However, deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility efforts must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people. The proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test.”
Blaire noted that the budget would not allow immigrant families to receive the Child Tax Credit, would take about two million families off food stamps and cut the benefit for everyone else, and terminate the Social Services Block Grant.
“We should prioritize programs that serve ‘the least of these,’ not eliminate them,” he remarked.
But Ryan said that funding a government program was not equivalent to helping the poor. He noted that some doctors refused to take Medicaid patients because it cost them too much money.
Ryan said programs like Medicaid “weren’t working” because of “all the strings they get from Washington.”
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 5 million unique readers per month and serves more than 19 million pageviews.