In a largely symbolic gesture, the US House of Representatives passed the Paul Ryan budget a few weeks back.
Much to the glee of corporate America, the Ryan budget includes lots of tax breaks for the business sector and the wealthy while simultaneously delivering a swift kick-in-the-nuts to the jobless, the working poor, the soon-to-be working poor, disabled persons and the elderly.
While proponents have hailed Wisconsin's own Paul Ryan as brave for the tough love in his budget, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) apparently disagree.
In the past 6 weeks they have sent a four letters to various House and Senate Committees sharply criticizing the Ryan budget for its cuts to programs that help the poor such as food stamps and child tax credits for illegal immigrants.
“Cuts to nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment. These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”
Not to be undone, Ryan "respectfully disagreed" with the Bishops, doubling down on his plan to fund tax cuts and maintain military spending on the backs of the poor, weak and/or elderly.
Jesus — King of Entitlement
Unlike some in the GOP who are disgusted by the notion of keeping of church and state separate, Ryan feels pretty comfortable with straying from biblical teachings — at least when it comes to things that affect his budget.
By taking a position opposite of that to the USCCB, Ryan is arguing against the teachings of Jesus and accepting the amoral nature of the budget and its underlying ideology.
And I guess that makes sense. With his generosity, good will toward men and a habit of delivering free health care, Jesus would likely have been opposed to many of the provisions in the Budget.
If Jesus had not risen from the dead on Easter Sunday, I’m sure the the Ryan budget would have him spinning in his catacomb.
But to be honest, when it comes to the federal budget or anything else related to our system of governance, who cares how Jesus might have felt?
Who cares if we offend the sensibilities of a bunch of church officials who have worked to remain outside boundaries of government for — literally — centuries?
America should continually strive for separation of church and state as guaranteed in the Constitution and we shouldn’t let media outlets, PR firms, political operatives or political action committees — both on the left and the right — manufacture an issue that should be irrelevant.
Unfortunately, we failed to separate church and state during the recent debate on contraception insurance coverage and we are failing again when it comes to the Ryan budget.
Lay Your Cards on the Table
So let’s stop pretending that the Ryan budget is somehow born out of the Congressman’s Catholic belief system.
It is a raping of the social safety net predicated on the false notion that the poor should help themselves and that tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations create jobs.
It is an extension of the GOP ideology that in America, it’s every man for himself and for every corporation, a D.C. lobbyist.
No community, no brotherhood and certainly no faith to tie us together for the common good of mankind.
In fact, religion has no place whatsoever in what passes for law making in Washington, D.C.
The churches should just quietly take their tax-free charitable income and use it to expand their own safety nets.
Lord knows a lot more people will be relying on the church for food and shelter if the GOP sweep the House, Senate and White House this Fall and start turning bills like the Ryan budget into law.