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March 3, 2004
As representatives of communities of faith, we call
on you to ensure that government not lose sight of its role and
responsibility to care for those in need.
As you begin deliberations on the FY 2005 budget, we urge you to
make certain that the budget adequately addresses the needs of and
services for people living in and near poverty.
The federal budget is a reflection of our values as a
society, and we ask that it serve God’s purposes by promoting the
common good. A budget
disproportionately emphasizing a reduction in domestic discretionary
spending while calling to make the tax cuts permanent, as proposed by
the Administration, does not reflect the values we seek as members of
the faith community. At a
time when more than 43 million Americans are uninsured, over 8 million
are unemployed, and over 12 percent live in poverty, increased access to
health care, job training and work supports, and a renewed commitment to
anti-poverty programs should be budget priorities.
We have grave reservations about the ramifications of
the Administration’s proposal to make the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts
permanent. Not only are the
tax cuts inequitable – overwhelmingly benefiting the very wealthy -
but they are offered at the same time as the budget reduces funding for
programs on which working families depend.
We have seen time and time again that when lawmakers
propose budget cuts, programs that help hungry and poor people are among
the most vulnerable. If tax
cuts are going to put more pressure on the budget and require deep cuts
in non-military federal spending, they should not be supported.
The FY 2005 proposed budget includes deep
cuts in some vital domestic programs, essentially freezes domestic
discretionary programs outside of homeland security, and leaves urgent
national priorities significantly under funded.
And the cuts grow progressively deeper after 2005.
By 2009, funding for domestic discretionary programs would be $50
billion below 2004 levels adjusted for inflation - an 11.5% drop.
These cuts will disproportionately impact the neediest among us. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that
the low funding level proposed in 2005 for the housing voucher program,
the nation’s principal low-income housing assistance program, could
cause the number of low-income families and elderly and disabled
households receiving such assistance to be cut by 250,000, while
proposed funding levels for child care programs would cause the number
of children from low- and moderate-income working families who receive
child care assistance to be reduced by approximately 365,000 by 2009.
The proposed budget process rules are
also extremely important. If
adopted, they could inhibit funding for human needs programs for
decades, and result in huge tax cuts for the wealthiest in our nation. The proposed rules are not fair, as they treat tax cuts and
expenditures under vastly different rules.
We urge you to oppose efforts to make the
2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, as they are far too inequitable and
are fiscally irresponsible. We
call on you to support policy that reflects the common good of all and
ensures that the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society are
met in FY 2005 and into the future.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact Carolynn Race
at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at (202) 543-1126.