“…who refuse justice to the unfortunate, who cheat the poor among my people of their rights, who make widows their prey and rob the orphan.” (Isaiah 10:1-4; note, that links to the NRSV version.) Yesterday, I received the SojoMail bulletin with Jim Wallis’ statement on the Republicans’ gleeful attack on the nation’s most vulnerable, and it starts with those bracing words. Wallis continues:
Today, I repeat those words. When our legislators put ideology over principle, it is time to sound the trumpets of justice and tell the truth.
It is a moral disgrace to take food from the mouths of hungry children to increase the luxuries of those feasting at a table overflowing with plenty. This is not what America is about, not what the season of Thanksgiving is about, not what loving our neighbor is about, and not what family values are about. There is no moral path our legislators can take to defend a reckless, mean-spirited budget reconciliation bill that diminishes our compassion, as Jesus said, “for the least of these.” It is morally unconscionable to hide behind arguments for fiscal responsibility and government efficiency. It is dishonest to stake proud claims to deficit reduction when tax cuts for the wealthy that increase the deficit are the next order of business. It is one more example of an absence of morality in our current political leadership.
Budgets are moral documents that reflect what we care about. Budget and tax bills that increase the deficit put our children’s futures in jeopardy – and they hurt the vulnerable right now. The choice to cut supports that help people make it day to day in order to pay for tax cuts for those with plenty goes against everything our religious and moral principles teach us. It says that leaders don’t care about people in need. It is a blatant reversal of biblical values – and symbolizes the death of compassionate conservatism.
The faith community is outraged and is drawing a line in the sand against immoral national priorities. It is time to draw that line more forcefully and more visibly.
I applaud those House members who have stood up for better budget priorities and fought hard all year to keep issues of basic fairness at the forefront of this debate. And I thank those on both sides of the aisle who stood up and did the right thing in voting against this bill, despite pressure from the House leadership. These strong voices provide some hope for getting beyond an ideology that disregards the role of government for the common good.
And the House leaders were so pleased with themselves. Can we get some good shots of the back-slapping and celebrating going on in the House of Representatives, please? They will make great Democratic campaign ads in 2006.