While the national election has passed, certain issues central to our mission are still in play in Congress. That’s why it’s important those programs that serve those living in poverty as well as the working poor must be protected from budget cuts. We believe that programs that ensure the integrity and dignity of families must be a central issue in the discussions regarding proposals to reduce the deficit.
The following senators are members of the “Gang of Eight” that has been meeting during the past few months to discuss a budget package that could replace the across-the-board cuts put into place last year and reduce the deficit more responsibly. These senators are dealing with some big numbers and important questions, but the record number of living in poverty ― and the millions more looking for decent work― have not been important considerations in these discussions.
Catholic Social Teaching states that the proper role of government is to “make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on.”
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is united with other Catholic organizations and our Catholic brethren that the budget discussions should:
- Protect human life and dignity
- The needs of the poor and vulnerable should be the first priority
- Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of everyone in the community.
Currently, the members of the Gang of Eight are:
- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado)
- Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia)
- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma)
- Sen. Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota)
- Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho)
- Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois)
- Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska)
- Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia)
If one of these senators represents you, please write to share your thoughts and concerns with them about those we serve. If your senator isn’t, it’s still important for you to communicate to your senators that any discussion about cutting the budget should include the concern that we do not penalize those living in poverty. We must be the Voice of the Poor because they have been left out of the conversation.
Yours in St. Vincent and Blessed Frédéric,
Sheila K. Gilbert
National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul
FOr further information on how the Society advocates for those in poverty visit its Voice of the Poor site.