Catholic bishops renew fight over Ryan budget

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Ryan’s fiscal 2014 budget cuts spending by $5.7 trillion while reducing the top tax rate to 25 percent with the goal of reaching a balanced budget in 10 years.

The bishops said the revamped plan would “drastically cut” spending by $800 billion over 10 years.

“This figure is very concerning, since 70 percent of the spending in this budget category goes for programs to help poor and vulnerable people,” they wrote.

The bishops warned the Ryan budget would likely slash safety net programs likes Pell Grants, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school lunches and the Earned Income Tax Credit, among others.

Ryan first drew the ire of the bishops last year when he said his Catholic faith helped shape his budget plan.

He said that by accelerating the debt crisis, President Obama’s policies will be more damaging to the poor. Ryan also said the USCCB doesn’t represent the views of all Catholic bishops.

The USCCB shot back, saying the officials who penned the congressional letters were elected to represent the bishops on policy matters at the national level.

This year, the bishops also issued a warning to the Democratic-led Senate, where lawmakers will vote on a budget alternative for the first time in four years.

“The Senate proposal does not include enough detail to assess the impact of potential reductions in mandatory spending, such as in health and nutrition programs,” the letter to the Senate reads in part. “However, Congress should keep to the commitment in the proposal to protect beneficiaries from any harm in reducing spending or reforming these programs.”

The plan crafted by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would eliminate the $85 billion sequester cuts, repeal tax breaks on corporations and wealthy individuals and spend tens of billions of dollars on infrastructure projects.

“The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated,” the bishops wrote. “Their voices are too often missing, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources.

“The bishops stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity.”

This story was updated at 12:40 p.m.