There is an interesting set of articles in the Our Sunday Visitor by two Catholics on the Budget problem. One, Congressman Paul Ryan, is a Republican. The other is Stephen Schneck, a Democrat and teacher at the Catholic University of America. These articles show how very different Catholics can be among each other when it comes to what is often termed the Social doctrine of the Church. Both men write well and with passion. Both quote Popes encyclicals and bishops. Both claim that the care of the poor is paramount. Yet both have a very different way of understanding these principles in terms of the Federal Budget. Consider their articles with a few comments by me in red.

Congressman Ryan:

Catholic social doctrine is indispensable for officeholders, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to understand it. The wrong way is to treat it like a party platform or a utopian plan to solve all of society’s problems. Social teaching is not the monopoly of one political party, nor is it a moral command that confuses the preferential option for the poor with a preferential option for bigger government.

I think this is fair not only from the position he states it but also from the experience of the Church in terms of politicians. In a sense we in the Church have to state that we have no permanent friends or enemies. No politician has a 100% perfect voting record in terms of Catholic teaching or the positions articulated by the bishops. A certain politician may be with us on abortion but in opposition to us on immigration with us on social policy in regard to the poor but against us on gay “marriage.” The Catholic view doesn’t easily fit into one party of the the other despite what our opponents on a particular issue may insist.

…..The judgments of equally well-intentioned citizens may differ. Usually, there isn’t just one morally valid policy. Instead, there are better and worse ones calling for respectful dialogue and thoughtful judgment. The moral principles are dogmatic; the political responses are prudential.

Yes I have often stated that on these pages. We are often too quick to treat prudential judgments as doctrinal positions. hence some one might hold that because a certain bishop makes a prudential judgment not to discipline a pro-abortion politician then he (the bishop) is soft on abortion. It may simply be that he thinks such a move unwise. Likewise if someone has concerns about big government involvement in care for the poor they “don’t really care about the poor.” But these are not doctrinal stances, they are prudential judgments wherein one tries to apply the doctrine to a given situation. One is free to dispute the prudential judgements of others and whether they best reflect the doctrine, but sweeping  judgements ought to be avoided in critiquing  prudential judgments. This requires the kind of sophistication that many modern discussions lack. Thus they pretty quickly devolve into name-calling and demagoguery.

…When income and credit dry up, the best will in the world cannot prevent cuts in expenses, including staff layoffs and wage reductions. Governments face choices, but their budgets also shape the economic future. A budget with low taxes, spending restraint and less borrowing can help restart the economy, create jobs and increase resources for investment, charity and assistance for the needy.

Granted, but Mr Ryan could say more about how cuts are prioritized. For, as we shall see, his opponent(s) argue that the poor suffer disproportionately under his budget. It is a worthy goal to restart the economy, but the poor may not be able to wait for this to trickle down to them. Hence his opponents argue that care for the poor should be a higher priority that it is.

Asked about rising government debt, Pope Benedict XVI has said: “[W]e are living at the expense of future generations … in untruth. We live on the basis of appearances, and the huge debts are meanwhile treated as something that we are simply entitled to.” It is immoral for governments to make promises they cannot fulfill.

Budgetary discipline is a moral imperative. In Greece and other European nations, retired pensioners and vulnerable citizens are suffering from harsh benefit cuts as a result of politicians’ empty promises. Preferences for the poor, solidarity, subsidiarity, the common good and human dignity are disregarded when governments default and bankrupt economies stop producing. Economic well-being is a foundation stone of an enduring “civilization of love.” Granted, if the economy goes down every one suffers, the poor first and most.

In his encyclical “Caritas in Veritate,” Pope Benedict warned that solidarity without subsidiarity “gives way to paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need.” Our budget gives more power over federal anti-poverty dollars to the states, directed by governors and state lawmakers who are closer to the problem…..The dignity of the human person, said Blessed Pope John Paul II, is compromised when bureaucratic ways of thinking — which he dubbed the “welfare state” or “social assistance state” — dominate our lives with heartless regulations and impersonal rationing.

Some argue that the States are receiving unfunded mandates and that shifting the burden to states without also shifting the money is tantamount to canceling the care for the poor. Mr. Ryan is not clear that the money is going to states in the same amount. Subsidiarity is surely a Catholic principle but there has to be actual action for there to be subsidiarity. And without the money there can be no action hence no subsidiarity. I am not claiming that there is no money going to the states, I am just not sure, from what he says.

Our budget helps the poor, first and foremost, by promoting urgently needed economic growth and job creation. Our reforms to save Medicare from bankruptcy….our budget repeals the new health care law with its taxpayer funding of abortions, government control over the health care sector and panel of bureaucrats empowered to ration Medicare.

Catholic social thought’s paramount interest is the moral character of society, which takes primacy over dollars and cents….

Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee. These are excerpts. The full article is here: Congressman Paul Ryan on Budget

Stephen Schneck replies:

At the beginning of life, Medicaid pays for about one-third of all births in America. Maybe you know a scared young mom who needed such help. If you are pro-life, like me you realize what support for these births can mean. I wonder why the number is this high?

Or maybe, like I do, you have a friend who lost his job and, despite best efforts, hasn’t found work. Unable to stretch unemployment insurance enough to make ends meet, he was embarrassed to need help, but at least he was able to feed his kids with food stamps….

Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 budget strategist, would cut all these programs and many others like them just when folks are struggling to stay afloat. Instead of trying to balance the budget in a way that protects the most vulnerable — as both parties did in past hard times — Ryan would cut food stamps by 20 percent, would turn away as many as 450,000 poor women and infants from WIC nutrition assistance, and reduce Maternal and Child Health Grants by one-third. Over the next decade he would cut $1.5 trillion from federal Medicaid payments. Some debate if there are actual cuts or as extreme as is claimed. As a novice to these details, I am bewildered by all the numbers and claims back and forth.

Rep. Ryan would gut these critical, life-supporting pro- grams at the same time that his budget would give almost $3 trillion in new tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit millionaires and corporations. On the face of it, this is egregious. But I suspect that Mr Ryan et al would claim that these cuts are actually incentives to get business to risk expansion and new hiring.

Catholic teachings tell us that public officials must put the vulnerable foremost in their policy decisions. Sure, our Church encourages personal charity; it also promotes local help, and it understands its own call to serve the vulnerable. But, important as such subsidiary efforts are, our Church also insists that national governments cannot shirk responsibility for those needing a helping hand. Every social encyclical since Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in 1891 has insisted that this is a fundamental duty for any government.…  Yes, Catholic social teaching does indicate that we, individually and collectively have obligations to to the poor and that we owe this to them, not just in charity but also in justice. The poor do have some legitimate claim to our excess wealth.

Like Rep. Ryan, I, too, believe that we must address the national debt. But it’s wrong — it’s immoral — to do this by shredding already stretched safety nets that save lives and give a bit of dignity to those in need. Maybe the rich can forgo more tax breaks? Maybe we can reduce some giveaways to Wall Street? Maybe we can trim weapon systems that the military does not even want? Before we cut Medicaid funds for our elderly and needy, or take food stamps away from hungry kids or slash programs for at-risk moms and babies, let’s pray that those in power — especially Catholics such as Ryan — reflect humbly on the Church’s ancient teachings and consider if there is not some other way.

I wish he hadn’t used the word immoral. I honestly think that we can try and debate this matter, wherein reasonable people will differ as to the details, and assume good will rather than immorality. That said, we need to be very careful not to underestimate the impact that sudden shifts may have on the poor. Rather than all the “class envy” stuff he offers, perhaps we could just ask the tough questions about the real impact to the poor.

My biggest concern about Conservative calls for subsidiarity (a view I largely share) is that, while the calls are made, there is very little detail about how we get there from here. What is the conservative plan to care for the poor? If it is not the government, then who? The Church? Fine. But we don’t have the money or resources to do it now. Where do we get them? How do we make the transition from big Government to more subsidiarity? Though sympathetic to calls for subsidiarity, I do not have simple answers to these questions. The subsidiarity view seems to me to be long on vision but short on details, especially in how we get there from here.

Stephen Schneck is director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America. These are excerpts. The full article is here: A Catholic Democrat’s Take

What do you think?

120 Responses

  1. Michael Brandon says:

    Well presented Monsignor. At 14.4 trillion dollars in public debt owed largely to foreign countries though, the cupboards are bare and have been for some time now. There is no bounty to share with the poor. The US is today an undeclared bankrupt. Rearranging the deck chairs will not keep the ship of state afloat.

    • A valid point, but I think the Question Mr. Schneck and others raise is, not that we don’t have to ct spending, but how best to do that and what cuts should be prioritized and what ones protected.

  2. Linus says:

    Well, the whole discussion is ” mind blowing ” to say the least. Several things I am sure of. One, the Health Care Affordibility law is immoral in dozens of ways. Perhaps the most important way is that it inserts government bureauocrats between the patient and his doctor in a way in which there is no effective appeal. This is extremely dangerous. Far too much power has been given to the government. And it would not be a bit better if the bureaucrats were state bureaucrats. Secondly, the interventionist and monetary policies of the Bush administration and the Obama administration have effectively bankrupted the nation. I don’t see how we get out of it` Congressman Ryan thinks his plan will put people back to work and I think it shows more potential than any the Democrats have. However, the real problem for him is that most of the jobs lost will not come back because they have been shipped overseas and how you get them back is beyond me.
    I really think something Benedict XVl said is the likely answer – we will have to simplify our lives. This will mean that we will have to be more accepting of our human limitations and be more willing to place ourselves in God’s hands- a lesson He tried to teach us in the Old Testiment. It seems to me we have errected the modern equivalent to the Tower of Babble.

    Here is the problem we face. I have a friend who is 64 or 65 who has been disabled all his life and has never had a meaningful job. His disability has grown steadily worse over the years and for the past six years he has been a patient at an Accute Care facility. He spent most of the past winter in the hospital, much of it in ICU and had one brain operation. He is now 100% disabled and hooked up to a feeding tube to his stomach for feeding and hydration and requires around the clock care. He is conscious and able to talk when he is awake. He has consumed millions of dollars in state and federal dollars for care in his life, especially this past winter. Many of your readers have friends or relatives in a similar situation. The point is, with all the best intentions how can we afford to provide this kind of care and do everything else as well!!!

    • You are right, the wars have been expensive. Some argue they were necessary, but we really do need to think of money when it comes to getting involved. You are also right that a lot of huge spending took place in two stimulus bills and the Healthcare and these have made the condition far more critical.

    • Superb says:

      The point of the public employee, we now have a label for them as well, that 65 year old will be us sooner than we may realize. When does enough mean enough? There is a dichotomy between the thinking morally and thinking prudently, they cannot coexist. I do not want some dollar amount, regardless of my station, to be assigned by the Government; conversely I do not want the Government to squander what little we as a governed society are willing to pay in tax.
      The Church has that moral authority to guide us as in the woman’s right to an abortion, which I think has been stolen by some I care not a whit. If we decide we desire our own life to be sustained perhaps e should be paying the Government more to subsidize those in need. That example, the man who was disabled since birth, can you or anyone give a “drop dead” date or cessation of life? The catholic Church imbedded in my belief set core values, and that dignity to life will always win over the cost benefit, the birth of a child or the care of the 65-year old, which would you suggest be maintained?

  3. OKeefe says:

    Even if the Ryan plan were enacted word for word, Medicare and Social Security would remain the largest parts of our federal budget. So saying those are being “shredded” is a bit of hyperbole. I believe a future is coming when we’ll have no choice but to rely less on the state for the care of the sick and elderly, instead relying upon stronger families to do their traditional duty. Hopefully these would arise out of necessity.

    The matter of the disproportionate tax relief is unavoidable. The super-rich currently pay most of the income taxes, so a tax cut of any size and shape would disproportionately benefit them. But in Ryan’s defense, his plan is to eliminate tax loopholes while lowering the rate. In theory, he plans to extract the same amount of money with fewer gimmicks.

    • Yes, some of the issue revolves around language. Is eliminating certain tax loopholes really a tax hike? Some argue it is, others no. I am personally less concerned about tightening up the code and more concerned about raising the rates for similar reasons that yo state.

  4. Nguyen Thuong MInh says:

    Epistle 200
    My some ideas of “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, in the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope talked about a budget debate between two Catholics: One, Congressman Paul Ryan, is a Republican; the other is Stephen Shenk, a Democrat.
    Msgr. Charles Pope considers their two articles with a few comments by in red.
    Secondly, now permit me to talk about some problems in budget debate hereafter:
    First problem, both Paul Ryan and Stephen Shenk said that their budget debate relied on the Social doctrine of the Church. But I read carefully the Social doctrine of the Church and it has no problem called budget one.
    Therefore, I suggest both Paul Ryan and Stephen Shenk should re-read carefully the Social doctrine of the Church. We shouldn’t draw the Church into this debate.
    Second problem, in my opinion, budget debate is a proper problem between Republican Party and Democratic Party.
    I also have known slightly on political standpoint of Republican Party and Democratic Party in the US.
    Every party has strengths and weaknesses.
    Relating to budget problem, Democratic Party wants to protect the poor on medicaid, unemployment insurance, WIC nutrition assistance, etc. I acclaim the humane policy of Democratic Party.
    However, I have a small suggestion that Democratic Party itself must make money to care for its humane policy at the same time it must pay off government debts.
    If Democratic Party has no success on the humane policy, then it will be collapsed. At that time Republican Party will become a ruling party./.

  5. Conor says:

    I am curious to know if any indicator of wealth, i.e. (e.g.?) income, ever takes into account the amount of spending a person or company does. I would imagine the picture of who has what and where that money goes would look much different, since the point of money is to spend it.

    I also think that, if we cut taxes for all, then everyone would have more, and I truly believe it is in human nature, through all of our associations, that we’d automatically buoy up the poor, through generous hiring and compassionate assistance. How can we be compassionate, especially big earners, when we have no money to hire or give, and not feel resentful about being scolded to give up more to help the poor. Sure our tax money is being thrown at them in debatably effective programs (the poor keep getting poorer), but we don’t have a chance really to help with our own efforts.

    My two cents, anyways.

    • Paul says:

      I believe society is so stratified that spending or hiring has very little effect on the desperately poor.
      We all have the right, whether that right is honored by the powers that be, to a place to sleep, food to eat, clothes to protect us from the elements; maybe a right to good education and freedom to live our faith.
      Beyond the costs of those rights, wouldn’t it all be considered discretionary spending?
      I don’t know how the money to buy a Cartier watch is ever going to trickle down to a meth addicted whore whose main means of birth control is abortion.
      There is a power structure that exists on a paternalistic dispensation of services and support of programs to those who are dependent on those services and programs just to survive. Those in power need the poor to exist just as much as the poor need them to live. The poor and those in power are in a dance with the devil to maintain what they have. There is no incentive in the “compassionate giving” to end this dance.

      Our government was conceived on the ideal that we have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that ideal was not written to an individual, it was proclaimed to the world. It’s still being proclaimed; and our government has an obligation to protect and ensure those rights are preserved and made effective for everyone, rich or poor.

      • Not so sure about your last point, but you are right that the poorest have a difficult time benefitting even when the economy is good. A rising tide may lift all boats, but some are stuck in isolated lakes.

        • Paul says:

          I get lost in my own little world…. the District of Columbia…the (DC) Council’s attempts to balance the budget included down-sizing social service/support programs because a few council members thought it was not the District’s obligation to serve the poor. A few thought they could legislate away the most needy. A position by some advocates for the homeless argued that it is the obligation of government to support those in need, that that is one of the basic purposes of government. Government is to protect everyone’s right to (a decent) life.
          The poorest should not have to depend on the vagaries of the fortunes of the economy for a decent life.
          Some don’t even have boats; or know they should be in one.

    • Conor, I think you are right that the money I earn doesn’t go into a hole, I usually spend it. What I do save goes to make loan money available for others. So it is not that money just disappears.

      • Conor says:

        Indeed, I can see by reviewing my comment and the responses to it that I put forth an extremely laissez faire view, and I should modify my statement by stating that, while I think allowing more money to be spent or saved would improve the economy for all, I do not hold the view that abandoning government programs aimed at assisting the poor would in any way help anyone. As a conservative I would mourn the day we lost our government, because it is that institution as constituted by our founding documents that we hold up as a role model for the organization of society. As the “shining city on a hill,” we must make sure that we care for our most vulnerable citizens, and when the economy does fail them, since all human-crafted institutions are naturally flawed, we must support them through the other societal relationships we have formed, one being the government that we support through our various resources. The key is to allow subsidiarity to play out properly, which means that the higher level institution that steps in does so only for as long as is necessary, and then the more local institutions can retake their place in power. I recognize that this should be applied to economies, as well, and we would need a vast restructuring of our market for the most local business to have the most impact locally. I think I should try to ponder hard the last issue I mentioned. I just thought of that as I wrote. Does that mean buying locally would be in support of subsidiarity, or does the term only apply to government?

  6. Dismas says:

    Tough questions, tough choices, I suppose I don’t have much to add. The ‘If I were a Rich Man’ clip brings to mind a couple of others: Edith and Archie singing the theme song to All in the Family, and second Jesus and Judas singing ‘All for the Best’ from God Spell. Clearly a never ending and very old argument.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F9vRVyV914&feature=related

    Boy the way Glen Miller played
    Songs that made the hit parade.
    Guys like us we had it made,
    Those were the days.

    And you knew who you were then,
    Girls were girls and men were men,
    Mister we could use a man
    Like Herbert Hoover again.

    Didn’t need no welfare state,
    Everybody pulled his weight.
    Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
    Those were the days.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnIW-eIAJxE&feature=related

    [JESUS]
    When you feel sad, or under a curse
    Your life is bad, your prospects are worse
    Your wife is crying, sighing…
    And your olive tree is dying,
    Temples are graying, and teeth are decaying
    And creditors weighing your purse…
    Your mood and your robe
    Are both a deep blue
    You’d bet that Job
    Had nothin’ on you…
    Don’t forget that when you go to
    Heaven you’ll be blessed..
    Yes, it’s all for the best…

    [JUDAS]
    Some men are born to live at ease, doing what they please,
    Richer than the bees are in honey
    Never growing old, never feeling cold
    Pulling pots of gold from thin air
    The best in every town, best at shaking down
    Best at making mountains of money
    They can’t take it with them, but what do they care?
    They get the center of the meat, cushions on the seat
    Houses on the street where it’s sunny..
    Summers at the sea, winters warm and free
    All of this and we get the rest…
    But who is the land for? The sun and the sand for?
    You guessed! It’s all for the best…

    [JESUS]
    When you feel sad, or under a curse
    Your life is bad, your prospects are worse
    Your wife is crying, sighing…
    And your olive tree is dying,
    Temples are graying, and teeth are decaying
    And creditors weighing your purse…
    Your mood and your robe
    Are both a deep blue
    You’d bet that Job
    Had nothin’ on you…
    Don’t forget that when you go to Heaven you’ll be
    blessed…
    You guessed! It’s all for the

    [JUDAS]
    Some men are born to live at ease, doing what they please,
    Richer than the bees are in honey
    Never growing old, never feeling cold
    Pulling pots of gold from thin air
    The best in every town, best at shaking down
    Best at making mountains of money
    They can’t take it with them, but what do they care?
    They get the center of the meat, cushions on the seat
    Houses on the street where it’s sunny…
    Summers at the sea, winters warm and free
    All of this and we get the rest…
    But who is the land for?
    The sun and the sand for?
    You guessed! It’s all for the

    [BOTH]
    You must never be distressed
    Yes, it’s all for the….
    All your wrongs will be redressed
    Yes, it’s all for the….
    Someone’s got to be oppressed!

    [CHORUS]
    Yes, it’s all for the best!!!

  7. Charles says:

    Something commonly ignored in the demagoguery over government spending is its actual economic effects. Selective industries and programs must be chosen to receive the funds, hoping that their necessary and related expenses trickle out to spur economic activity as a whole. Or that’s how it’s supposed to work.
    Instead when a industry that is otherwise sustainable within the free market is subsidized with government spending the influences crowd out other investments and selfishly develops into a monopoly. Or, more commonly, a industry that is unsustainable is subsidized. Billionaires and millionaires reorganize their companies and investments to get rich quick. Some ignore their core competencies and even destroy or undermine otherwise profitable initiatives in pursuit of the new spending. Many spend as much in lawyers and consultants to be the precious few to capitalize. This greatly limits potential economic growth and may even harm it significantly. But that’s nothing to what’s next.
    The spending flows through, it boosts up this or that industry. Prices increase above their actual, non-subsidized values. (Monetary policy initiatives are also likely at play. Currency devaluation will spur investment into other investments helping the industry boom.) Sooner or later people realize the industry boom is unsustainable. The rich and powerful are liquid and connected enough to get out before the bust. The poorer and weaker are forced to ride their investments into the bust. (Some may not even gotten in before the boom at all and suffer huge losses.)
    In result the boom and bust cycle of a stimulus results in a giant transfer of wealth. In fact George Soros – funder of so many progressive, and now dissident Catholic, organizations – has accumulated significant amounts of wealth through such manner.

    • Yes, lots of “unintended side-effects” flow from government interventions. I remember that the “Cars for Clunkers” program was said to have devastated the used-car market which is no small part of the ecomony

      • Charles says:

        And who buys used cars? The poor! Who depends on federal-funded comprehensive health centers Planned Parenthood was reserved a significant portion of the funds from? The poor! What is being cut to spare loyal Democrat government jobs and benefits across the nation? Services for the poor, homeless, hungry and mentally troubled.
        There’s no concern for the poor in the party. There’s no preferential option for the poor in their policies. Their claim comes out a larger claim that centralized power and decision making will fix everything. But it exists only in theory and rhetoric. The poor are exploited – ignored when convenient or entrapped when an opportunity for more power.

  8. BethAnne Franklin says:

    You and I, state and local gov’ts have to; “live within our means.” We can’t ‘print’ money. The US Federal Gov’t does not have to; “live within it’s means” – It can ‘print’ money. Representative Ryan, Stephen Shenk and even our German Shepherd do not understand an economy that is monetarily sovereign.
    Sincerely,
    BethAnne Franklin

    MMT to President Obama and Members of Congress:

    Posted by WARREN MOSLER on July 17th, 2011

    Comments welcome, and feel free to repost:

    MMT to President Obama and Members of Congress:
    Deficit Reduction Takes Away Our Savings

    SO PLEASE DON’T TAKE AWAY OUR SAVINGS!

    Yes, it’s called the national debt, but US Treasury securities are nothing more than savings accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank.

    The Federal debt IS the world’s dollars savings- to the penny!

    The US deficit clock is also the world dollar savings clock- to the penny!

    And therefore, deficit reduction takes away our savings.

    SO PLEASE DON’T TAKE AWAY OUR SAVINGS!

    Furthermore:

    There is NO SUCH THING as a long term Federal deficit problem.

    The US Government CAN’T run out of dollars.

    US Government spending is NOT dependent on foreign lenders.

    The US Government can’t EVER have a funding crisis like Greece-
    there is no such thing for ANY issuer of its own currency.

    US Government interest rates are under the control of our Federal Reserve Bank, and not market forces.

    The risk of too much spending when we get to full employment
    is higher prices, and NOT insolvency or a funding crisis.

    Therefore, given our sky high unemployment, and depressed economy,

    An informed Congress would be in heated debate over whether to increase federal spending, or decrease taxes.

    Share and Enjoy: http://moslereconomics.com/2011/07/17/mmt-to-president-obama-and-members-of-congress/

  9. Bill Granger says:

    All the welfare programs in the world cannot make up for the slaughter of the innocents that the Democrat Party and their fellow travellers consider a sacred right.

    All the tax cuts to corporations that the Republicans push for will not make the life of the working class and middle class in this country one bit better. That, and their failure to truly do ANYTHING about stopping abortion, caused me to leave the elephant party years ago.

    We need a party along the lines of a Christian Democrat party, like some European countries have. It won’t happen in my lifetime, but it sure would be nice to actually have a party based on the true social teachings of our church, and not the salad bar pick and choose social “justice” of Catholic politicians of both parties.

    • Jack Quirk says:

      I think political parties in general are public nuisances. One of their worst characteristics is that they encourage group-think, and cause otherwise good and decent people to support less than moral social policies. I would like to rid us of them. Moreover, third parties will never have a chance in the United States as long as candidates are able to win offices with a mere plurality of votes.

      But I think that a voting bloc could be quite effective. There are a lot of Catholics in the United States, and politicians would be quite interested in gaining the support of a Catholic voting bloc. It worked for the Moral Majority, and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform has been so effective that we are now witnessing the spectacle of members of Congress willing to throw the nation into default on its debts rather than raise a penny of taxes.

      The best way to get something like this going, it seems, would be to simply start an organization, get a website, have people sign up, and start local study groups. We would need a commitment from members to be faithful to the Magisterium, and agree to allow Church teaching to be decisive. That last part would be the most difficult to implement, since there are many who think that the Church has only marginal authority in determining their political views.

      One thing we should definitely stop doing, above all, is allowing politics to divide the Body of Christ.

    • Well as stated, there is no perfect party from a Catholic perspective. Abortion is clearly a critical and essential issue, and we have discussed it fully here. But it still has to be fair to discuss other issues too.

    • John Flaherty says:

      Bill,
      I agree we need political parties that’re motivated by Catholic principles. I think though, that a Christian Democrat party would be desperately counterproductive. Those who will to reject Christian or Catholic principles will almost certainly not be persuaded to follow the law when everyone knows that this law or that passed by means of a Christian or Catholic majority. If anything, such efforts will actually encourage rebellion against such law and may actually cause the overall moral fabric of the society to grow more..unGodly.

  10. Dan says:

    Interesting. I admit upfront that I am basically in the Ryan camp. It seems that a basic difference is that Ryan thinks the federal government is not as efficient or effective as private citizens when it comes to spending money (i.e., transferring wealth). Schneck, on the other hand and for example, apparently thinks the federal government can better utilize the 3 trillion that Ryan’s plan “gives” (horrible way to look at the governemnt not taking money through taxes) to “millionaires and corporations.” It would be interesting to see a comparison between the efficiency/effectiveness of, say, “Food for the Poor” and the US federal goverment. Another difference in perspective here seems to be that Ryan is looking at ways to reduce the number of people who are in need of assistance. Schneck is looking at ways of assisting those who are in need. So, they might be talking past each other.

    • Perhaps this is fair, but what is a Catholic to think? I repeat what I said, I think those who favor less govt (me included) have to do more than critique, we have to offer real alternatives. I don’t really know what they are.

  11. Dan says:

    Great, Ms. Franklin. How about the government just print up 500 trillion dollars and pass them out. What am I missing?

  12. Dan says:

    It seems to me as if all of this financial trauma started under the administration of Saint Ronald Reagan. He slept while his hirelings took the banking system and revamped it to their liking. His period of power started the “I, me, mine” philosophy of getting it all if possible. Does anyone not remember David Stockman’s statement about “voodoo economics” and the catch-phrase “deficit spending”? Do you remember that he quit in disgust, or was fired for not being a team player? The rich won’t spend their money on jobs for the middle class, they will put their money overseas where they will pay little or no tax and then throw a party to let their friends know that “I have more than you do”. I am not talking about working people who make a lot of money; I am talking about the super-rich who make tons of money doing nothing and don’t pay anything. Last thought: the poor and middle class folks don’t have the money to pay off or lobby ( as in legal bribe ) the very congresspeople who are making the laws. Therefore, the laws are going to favor the people with the big bucks. Paul Ryan is a political hack who is Catholic but that does not make him a compassionate Catholic; it merely means he is a Catholic politician. There have been many Catholic pols who I am sure I might meet in Hell. Peace and God bless

    • You actually had some valuable things to offer to the discussion, then you started all the personal attacks. Too bad, why do that? That isn’t very Catholic either is it?

      • Dan says:

        I do apologize for getting a bit rough in my previous statement. I follow history and the news of the day fairly closely and it just gets disgusting when I see all that is happening around us. It seems as though Pope Leo XIII was right in his vision. Satan has had his time and he is wreaking havoc on all fronts. The thing that really bewilders me is the fact that the pols never mention the one thing that would single-handedly eliminate our budget woes. Tax the super wealthy as the middle class is taxed. I am a re-vert who is waging a daily struggle to find my Faith and maintain what I find. It’s tough sometimes.

  13. Omar says:

    I have a post on this myself regarding Rep. Ryan’s article: http://www.regnumnovum.com/2011/07/15/what-paul-ryan-can-teach-us/ . I don’t know if it would be helpful to your readers.

    To address one of your questions, as I understand it, block grants are to be provided to States in order to allow the States to do what the federal government has been doing. So, again as far as I know, there is a plan to fund the States to do the work that needs to be done.

    Regarding the rest, I for one am always wary when I hear one side say, “Our plan is better than their plan at helping the poor” and the other side say “They want to kill grandmamma and starve children…” which is essentially what Shenk is saying and is actually what a Democratic attack ad accuses Ryan of doing. Who knows, maybe Ryan and the Republicans are bloodthirsty trolls who would rather kill off the poor than feed them…but I doubt it.

    Note, too, that Shenk and the Democratic Party are not actually offering an alternative budget to address the crushing debt. They are just poking holes in the Republican plan.

    About subsidiarity,Msgr. is right that we can yell all day long that government needs to get out of our lives, but if we do not step up, then this becomes a cop out. What I like about Ryan’s plan is that the State governments take on some of the management of social assistance currently done by the federal government. That counts as subsidiarity.

    The cuts in WIC and in food stamps are disturbing. As I point out in my article, in fact the cuts to food stamps are actually the repeal of increases provided through the stimulus bill…increases that were scheduled to end anyway. That doesn’t count as a “cut” in my book.

    All that said, I cannot help but wonder if there is no defense spending that could be trimmed ever so slightly so as to avoid the cuts to WIC and food stamps. But then Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security made up some 43% of the federal budget in 2010. Reforming these institutions, which we ALL know has to happen, could provide us with the necessary funds to beef up on WIC – which by the way is being cut because of reports that some 40% of its budget goes to “administrative costs” and not to babies and their moms…though that figure is in dispute. But certainly we could pull out of Lybia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and anywhere else to saves us some money that would better be used to feed the poor.

  14. bobd says:

    Well, Father
    These are not equal arguments. Satan is on one side of them just like he was in the Garden. He makes things look good when they’re not. Virtue-especially of charity and justice are required of each individual person not governments. If government usurps this possibility then it comes at the expense of good people doing good deeds and receiving graces in return. Government being big brother or mother and father is a sin and a lie.

    • I would prefer not to make such judgments as you have placing Stan on one side. This is a prudential matter. But using your conclusion, how do we un-ring the bell? and re-inaugurate the vision you describe?

  15. Blake Helgoth says:

    Neither budget addresses the real problem. That problem is the two different world views, neither of them Catholic, which are fighting over the nations resources. One world view sees international corporations running the world. The other sees the state running the world. Both are central planning type views and have absolutely nothing to do with subsidiarity and the individual, much less, the poor. Currently, the international corporation view has the trump card, since these corporations have more money than most countries and thus, more power. These corporations have arrange the social culture so that it serves industry. Now, they are trying to weaken the state so that governments have no choice but to bow to the mandates of industry. This is the scheme that has brought about a budget crisis across the globe. To be fair, the people at the helm do believe that if they have their way and humanity is subjected to either the corporation or the state, there will be a new renaissance and man will enjoy a utopian world. They know what they are doing is causing much suffering, but they believe this to be necessary to achieve a glorious end. It is anything but a Christian world view. Jefferson (of whom I am not not a huge fan) had an inkling of this when he wrote –

    “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them, will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

    We need to end the Fed, it has become a tool of the corporations, and return power to the states. We need to live as a union, not as a nation divided into states. We need to return true freedom to the people by abolishing bureaucracy and the bureaucrats that go with it. This nation is no longer the one that was founded by our fathers. However, I fear it is much too late for this. One budget deal or the other will have little effect. Until men have the courage to look at the beast that has been created and sound the alarm as loudly and effectively as they are able, the machine will march forward with little concern for the individual. After all, empire building must continue! There will be much suffering in this battle, but we know that Jesus Christ will triumph in the end. In the mean time, while all these men fight to create ‘heaven’ on earth, I will place my hope in the heaven that is everlasting!

  16. Stephen Schneck says:

    Hi, folks.

    It’s very encouraging to see that this important topic is getting attention. Thanks.

    I’m one of the authors discussed here. Just wanted to correct the spelling of my name. It’s Schneck.

    Wishing you every blessing!

    Steve Schneck
    Director, Institute for Policy research & Catholics Studies
    The Catholic University of America

    • Thanks for the correction. I am very sorry about the mis-spelling. I am away from my home computer and out preaching a retreat and I have a harder time reading on my laptop! I have corrected my error.

    • CAM says:

      Dear Mr. Schneck,
      It might also be helpful to the readers of this article to know that you are a board member of the political organization Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and were an organizer of the letter sent by Catholic academics to Rep. Boehner on the eve of his commencement address at CUA, strongly criticizing his economic policies.

    • Conor says:

      Hello Dr. Schneck,

      It was a pleasant surprise to see your name on this comment. I would say that I had a somewhat “celebrity-sighting” moment. Though I admit that I am in Congressman Paul’s camp pretty heavily, to which my earlier post, one that maybe you were lucky enough to skip, attests, I must also admit that I am honored that someone of your influence is monitoring the channels that we everyday citizens use to gain insight on these enduring issues. I truly mean that in the least condescending way; I failed to find better words to express it.

    • Carrie ferrell says:

      In the article in Our Sunday Visitor, Stephen Schneck stated, ” We are morally obliged as a civilization to care for people who can’t take care of themselves.”. As a Catholic, I agree we are to help others but give them the tools to learn how to make it on their own. Also, Schneck says he is voting for Obama? Obama is pro-choice and promotes abortion on demand, why are you supporting a man that outwardly supports not “caring for people who can’t take care of themselves, especially the innocent, if you vote for him you are supporting his abortion agenda. Please but Obama under the same scrutiny you are Paul Ryan.

  17. MichaelP says:

    Congressman Ryan’s plan addresses the problem and attacks it at the root from a political angle. Stephen Schneck’s policy only addresses the symptoms of the problem. I can’t understand how anyone can be on the fence with this one. We have had at least 50 years of policy that Mr. Schneck endorses. It obviously does not work.

    Stephen Schneck is simply a product of the communist infiltration into the Catholic Church.

    You can’t give what you do not have!

    Only the local community (family) knows what is best for the poor around it. The federal government does not.

    The problem goes back to the lack of family values and personal responsibility.

    Thanks.

  18. Bill says:

    The problem America and the world has is the way money is understood. Banks like IMF and Federal Reserve are used to finance governments. Often times this financing will result in the Big Bank applying pressure on these governments to do certain things that result in the country becoming weaker and when that happens the poor are the first to suffer. There are documented cases where IMF has caused the ruin of small agri businesses in developing countries so that large internation agri business could gain access to new markets.

    What is the solution to this?

    It is to return to what America started with. Dump the Federal Reserve private bank. This would immediately open the possibilty that Big Government could simply fund the SS, Medicare and social welfare programs without taxing people to raise this money and without borrowing the money from a BIG Bank, that does not have that money anyway. The Big Government Treasury could we repaid by existing SS-Medi taxes without the added cost of interest payments to Big Banks. I know many of you may think what I propose is crazy. Follow this link and stop buying into the baloney that comes from either political party because they are not attempting to fix the real problem. http://www.michaeljournal.org/econodividEN.htm

  19. LatinMass4Evah says:

    When did it become Catholic to force your neighbor to be charitable? Does the Catholic Church force people to donate to its charities? Did Jesus force people to help others? Charity is a FREE act of the will. Forced charity is theft. It would seem that Subsidiarity contradicts the practice of making “charity” a state function.

    Also when did it become Catholic to support social programs that contradict the authority given to the State. The social programs in the US were passed using the Interstate commerce clause:

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 3:
    “[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes; ”

    This was meant to give the US gov the authority to mediate trade disputes among the states. It says nothing about running a pensions program, handing out taxpayer money or establishing health insurance programs.

    As Catholics we should sit on the side of Truth and law and order. It is not Catholic to usurp legitimate authority to promote programs that we “feel” will do good. If we give any government the power to define and administer charity it will ALWAYS be co-opted by secular and godless forces because those forces will always be more attractive in the short term and emotionally and sensually.

    We are called to be the Salt and to be different from the world. Supporting government run social programs is not Catholic.

    • Well Ok, but in terms of Catholic Social teaching we are not just dealing with Charity here, we are dealing with justice. The poor have legitimate claims on us, not just in Charity but in justice.

    • Mary W says:

      Are agricultural subsidies to farmers (so they won’t plant crops and flood the market and therefore drive down the price of food) charity or trade regulation?

      Is government spending on medical research charity or trade regulation?

      Are tax breaks to multi-national corporations just, when middle class families and small businesses (which are more likely to hire the poor) do not have access these same breaks?

      Is public education charity or a good investment in our future workforce?

      I also suggest you brush up onyour Catholic social teaching because John Papul II calls for “logical decsions” which include our social responsibilities.

      In the encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Blessed Pope John Paul II stated: “ The Church’s social doctrine adopts a critical attitude towards both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism.” He also said regarding care for the poor: “ It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership and use of goods .”

      The Pope: “Today, given the worldwide dimension which the social question has assumed, this love of preference for the poor, and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care and, above all, those without hope of a better future. It is impossible not to take account of the existence of these realities. To ignore them would mean becoming like the “rich man” who pretended not to know the beggar Lazarus lying at his gate (cf. Lk 16:19-31).

      As we work through the federal budget we need congress to make logical decisions, on a case by case, line by line review of the budget. When we trim our budget at home we don’t stop eating to put tires on the car. We juggle the budget to meet immediate needs, trimming a little here and a little there. In some cases we have had to take on debt (mortagage) and worked second jobs to accomodate our needs and we still manage to help those less fortunate than us. We don’t want to eliminate any options from our federal budget tool box.

      • Mary W – your rather condescending remark that I brush up on my Catholic social teaching aside, I based most of what I say on the Catechism’s teaching which takes place under the 7th commandment.

        • Mary W says:

          Msgr. Pope my apologies — My rather condescending remark (true) about brushing up on Catholic Social teaching was in response to Latinmass4Evah’s comment that “Supporting government run social programs is not Catholic.” In any case the comment was out of line. Sorry Latinmass4evah.

          I read the blog often, because I find a wealth of doctrinally sound information and am grateful for such a wonderful resource. I even appreciate the faternal correction!

      • latinmass4evah says:

        “Are agricultural subsidies to farmers (so they won’t plant crops and flood the market and therefore drive down the price of food) charity or trade regulation?”
        Neither. These practices were started during the depression when FDR wanted to keep prices high so farmers could make money. This happened while millions of people were forced in to starvation while crops were plowed under and millions of livestock were slaughtered and disposed of. Does the US government have the authority to do this under the Constitution. If you as a Catholic want the state to impose disastrous agricultural policies then advocate for a new constitutional amendment that grants that authority.

        “Is government spending on medical research charity or trade regulation?”
        You mean the research using fetal tissue? Again where is the authority for the US gov to do this? I would prefer not to have my money forcibly taken to fund abortions and related “research”. You are parroting the classic liberal talking point that assumed people will not be charitable if the government did not take their money from them.

        “Are tax breaks to multi-national corporations just, when middle class families and small businesses (which are more likely to hire the poor) do not have access these same breaks?”
        Sounds like you are agreeing with me. Where is the authority for these tax breaks in the US Constitution? If you are one of those people who believe that our evil capitalist system is to blame you should know that we do not have free market capitalism in the US but Corporatism which is very different. I would be for ending all business subsidies (large and small) since they are just a means for government to pick the winners and losers in the market and enables the inefficient business to survive.

        “Is public education charity or a good investment in our future workforce?”
        The fed gov has not authority to regulate education. If you think it is important for education to be decided at that level and have intellectual integrity then call for a constitutional amendment. I believe education should be locally decided.

        “I also suggest you brush up onyour Catholic social teaching because John Papul II calls for “logical decsions” which include our social responsibilities.”
        Preventing the federal government from forcing me to give my money to state run “charities” does not mean I will cease to be charitable.

        “ It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership and use of goods .”
        Don’t see anything in there about the government forcibly taking my goods and using them for my purpose. Again being against government run “charities” does not make one uncharitable.

        “Today, given the worldwide dimension which the social question has assumed, this love of preference for the poor, and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care and, above all, those without hope of a better future. It is impossible not to take account of the existence of these realities. To ignore them would mean becoming like the “rich man” who pretended not to know the beggar Lazarus lying at his gate (cf. Lk 16:19-31).
        Perhaps you can help me “brush up” on my Catholic faith and help me understand how this advocates socialistic government run “charities”? Not paying into corrupt government run programs that cause more harm than good, does not mean I will ignore the poor. It might surprise you but I have a free will and I can FREELY choose to help my neighbor.

  20. Jack Quirk says:

    Mr. Ryan is a well known admirer of Ayn Rand, and requires his staffers to read Atlas Shrugged. If you are having difficulty squaring his political philosophy with Catholic social teaching, it is because the two are completely different. Mr. Ryan is an Objectivist, politically speaking, in the light of which his proposals make much more sense. But Objectivism, which contains no preferential option for the poor, is utterly incompatible with Christianity.

    We rightly object when politicians calling themselves Catholic support abortion. In doing so we acknowledge that Catholics have an obligation to bring their religion to bear in their decision making when they are in a position to determine governmental policy. Because abortion is the horror that it is, one can sympathize with a well meaning Catholic who would excuse a politician’s failure to follow Catholic social teaching in other areas. The danger comes, and where we fall into error, is when the excusing becomes justification, and we begin to treat society’s neglect of the most vulnerable as a Catholic principle.

    • OK, but abortion is a little more cut and dried than Social policy. Catholic have legitimate differences among themselves regarding social issues, not so with abortion.

      • Jack Quirk says:

        Well, I don’t think abortion is the only social issue that the Church is clear on. The United States bishops, through the USCCB, certainly take a stand on a number of issues with very little ambiguity. We may legitimately differ on the method by which society takes care of its poor, but we may not, as Catholics, legitimately disagree that society has an obligation to do so.

        • John Flaherty says:

          Problem here, Jack, is that most times, people will insist that “society has an obligation to do so” means that government has a mandate–and right–to offer various services to the impoverished. Any other means has almost always been shouted down as being greedy. I’ve never seen any teaching that declares this so, but that’s the argument that’s always made.

          I would contend, in fact, that government aid almost always offers the worst possible answers, precisely because they have no moral basis to set criteria. Any occasion that someone insists on a moral standard, some person screams about church/state separation.

          I don’t think society CAN address any social ills until we agree upon a morally binding effort.

  21. Jon White says:

    All should ask this question: Why hasn’t the traditional media (TM) laid out Paul Ryan’s proposal so the public can know what it contains? All the TM has done is call Ryan names.
    All should be asking this question: Where is the Democrats’/President’s plan for spending cuts?

  22. Mark says:

    I think it’s important that we as a community take care of our poor. The closer “the money” is to the local level, the more effective it is. Catholic schools spend less per pupil on education, yet the education is better, often with fewer resources and lower-paid teachers. Why?

    It is indeed our responsibility to help those less fortunate than ourselves. The debate shouldn’t be about that. It should be about what is more effective: the federal government or the local communities. My vote is with the local communities. Lower my taxes. Cut spending. Allow me to use my money to help my local charities.

    If the federal government is so good at helping the less fortunate, why are there so many more now than at the start of Johnson’s “Great Society”? The government solution just doesn’t work.

      • Jack Quirk says:

        These are legitimate points. If we do indeed find that local help for the poor would be more effective, then I would hope that we would have something in place before we cut them off at the federal level. I wouldn’t want to end federal programs in the bare hope that something local will arise. Secondly, I wouldn’t want to create a situation where a race to the bottom takes place, as in, “come to our state where you won’t get taxed as much to help the poor.” I can easily see a situation where a competition will arise between states and localities over how little is done to ease poverty. As to your overall point, poverty has a lot of causes. We can’t end poverty with welfare; all we can do is ease the suffering it causes. Finally, Mark, if all people were like you, maybe we wouldn’t need government programs. But all people aren’t like you. Even most people aren’t like you.

    • EdQ says:

      Lower taxes and we will just take care of all the problems? After the Bush tax cuts, did every extra $ you received in tax savings go to charity? Maybe so, but I know mine didn’t. Just food for thought.

      • Mark says:

        Where did I say that? We’ll never take care of all of the problems. Even Jesus said “the poor you will always have with you.”

        Are there more or fewer people in poverty before or after the “Great Society” experiment? Measure it any way you want, those federal government solutions are measurable, amazing failures, successful only in perpetuating big government and dependence.

  23. Chris C. says:

    Our government administered taxpayer supported social safety net in most cases, appears to primarily empower governemnt itself as well as public employees and their unions. By the time most federal aid gets to its intended beneficiaries it has passed through layer after layer of bureaucracy. Our entitlement structure does not come close to fulfilling a mandate for a preferential option for the poor. It appears designed to benefit the federal workforce, unions, and The Democratic Party. The poor are little more than an excuse for an ever expanding government workforce that grows richer and fatter year after year.

  24. LatinMass4Evah says:

    “But Objectivism, which contains no preferential option for the poor, is utterly incompatible with Christianity.”

    So Catholic Social Teaching mandates that government take over the function of Charity? Some might call that Socialism, which is a Catholic heresy. I think you are comparing apples and oranges. Government and Religion are perfect societies, meaning they (should) operate in their own spheres (that is why the Catholic church advocated the separation of Church and state 1000 years ago) and have all the means to fulfill their duties. Having the government take on responsibilities reserved for the Church and individual would be immoral and against Catholic teaching.

    • Do you really think the Church has the resources to take over the care of the poor in toto?

      • Jack Quirk says:

        Socialism, which the Church has condemned, is ownership of the means of production by the state. A public welfare system doesn’t make a society socialist any more than having a space program makes it a part of the old Soviet Union.

      • latinmass4evah says:

        Where do you think the government is getting the money for its social programs? From the people, which (some of them) make of the Catholic Church. You cannot use an evil (taking people’s money to fund socialistic programs) to accomplish a good (eradicate poverty). BTW we will always have poor and it has been the free market system (which is different than the corporatist system we have in the US) coupled with Christian charity which has lifted so many people out of poverty. I would suggest you read Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell which has an excellent example regarding India and their adoption of some free market principles and the hundreds of millions of people who no longer live on $1 per day.

        • Charles says:

          When they pursue public charity and regulate private charity to eliminate private participation it becomes like the former communist states. We aren’t there yet, but most private charity is now funded by public funds and subject to public regulation. And then there’s the related attack on religions and by extension their charities. We’re not all the way there, but we’re closer than many expect.

      • John Flaherty says:

        I have long felt that we need to develop a 50-year plan to phase out government welfare. We cannot, at this moment, drop all government programs on the spot and not expect disaster. As a nation, we’ve become too accustomed to those programs. We need to take the time to re-develop the expectation within society that we, individuals and civic-minded organizations, need to provide for these needs. Seems to me this nation used those kinds of means prior to the Depression era.

        I think we need to wind our way back toward depending on people in our lives, not some faceless, nameless person at some government office somewhere.

  25. Steven Yde says:

    If you agree we are bankrupt, the solutions are simple. The difficulties are in acceptance and implementation. First, we are a culture of entitlement. The reasons are many, but it can all be boiled down to the secularizing of our culture and to some extent our own church. The entitlement mentality can and will not embrace the idea of sacrifice or suffering. To very important meanings in our faith. Therefore they will not accept the fact that we even have a problem. Second, those that understand we have a debt problem and know that to a person we owe more in national debt than Greece, the difficulties break into to camps. Those that are willing to sacrifice, but have lost confidence in charity and have uncertainty about the future even for their own family and those that are ready to accept the consequences of our situation, pitch in, but don’t know how to get this country back on the right path. So here is the solution. Tie Federal Government spending to 15% of GDP and allow local governments and charities pick up the slack. Those closest to the situation are better equipped to solve poverty and injustice than those at the federal level. The Federal Govt need only get involved when Life, Liberty or Property is unfairly legislated at the local level. The Revenue problem is tied to the path to economic success. Individuals pay taxes, not corporations so any tax is paid by the consumer. Therefore taxes should be imposed in only two areas 1) at the sales ring and 2) at the point of import. This will unveil the mask of bureaucracy and help bring some of those jobs back to america.

  26. Tom T says:

    Well Msgr. I now realize where your thoughts and beliefs are. Very sad. I have been down this road many times
    and sometimes it seems a losing battle, by the way, you did`nt study theology at Chicago Theological Union by any chance did you? I have heard these same arguments time and again and have gotten into some very serious discussions with theologians and their twisted intepretations of Caritas In Veritate in defending the moralality of voting for pro-choice abortion politicians and various other justifications all related to the susidiarity
    argument. How in the name of heaven can a bishop and leader of the Church, prudentialy or otherwise, think it
    not wise to refuse communion and even in some cases support politicians who are in favor of taking a child`s
    life which by the way should trump every other political concern though important though not doctrinal. There is
    no possible moral defense you can use to defend this and it saddens me you try. The statements that you led off with are exactly the left wing, progressive,secularistic liberal positions that the Holy Father is trying to correct and that St. Pius X predicted in 1907 with his Encyclical Pascendi: Domeninci Gregis. Speaking of Saints many have died throughout the history of the Church as martyrs defending Catholic beliefs some suffering
    cruel punishing deaths standing up to royal governements of king and queens who opposed the Church. Were
    they imprudent?

    • No, I studied at Mount St Mary’s. You ought to be a little less severe in your judgment of people. I am very pro-life but it is permissible for us to talk about things too.

      • Tom T says:

        Msgr. Charles, I am sorry you thought that I suggested that you were not pro-life. There is no doubt in my mind
        you are pro-life as many of the priests that I have had discussions with at CTU are and many that I have discussed the issue of politics and abortion in a couple of different orders that use the JPIC movement for cover.
        Your second statement is what led me to conclude that you might be progressive in your thinking. When it comes to a high profile politician that lives a public life contrary to Catholic teaching and promotes abortion
        there requires no discussion or sophistication to use your words “prudential judgements” necessary here. It is what it is, a sin and he should, as all politicians who promote abortion should be denied Communion. If Archbishop Chaput was running that diocese and that Governor came to his Cathedral to recieve Communion I assure you he would not recieve it. It is also a sin to vote for a pro-abortion politician no matter what other
        promises he has made. Again Father, it is what it is and needs to be publicly stated and made clear by bishops.
        I meant no offense, as you can tell comming from a family of 16, married 48 years with 5 of my own and 20 grandchildren and having an uncle with 13 and a number of grandchildren who had an audience with Blessed
        John Paul II, we are all very passionate about pro-life. To quote Archbishop Chaput on this paticular matter,
        it would be an act of charity to refuse Communion to a pro-abortion politician and an act of love to correct him
        or her and would in fact be beneficial for the soul since you would keep them from sinning even more. Pax.

  27. antmcos says:

    One of the greatest predictors of poverty in this country is single motherhood. Until, we as a nation and a Church, start to talk about the consequences of unchastity and divorce, both from the pulpit and through government incentives, and get back to morality, there is no way out of this mess. This comprises too large a group of people( and a growing group) who need help. We as a society have dropped the ball by “tolerating” everything and now literally have to pay for it. If the traditional family was strenghtened, a lot of these costs would decrease, true subsidiarity, instead of handouts from a government that you are now beholden to for your very existence( I think they like that power. It gets them votes). Our ecomomic woes stem from social breakdown.

  28. John. Flipsen says:

    I look at the church as being a citizen of a country. It is for that reason that Church and state never can be totally seperated from each other. Many do pretent that this is possible, In my view it is not. And for that reason the Church does has an obligation to speak out if sommething is Morally wrong. That goes also for the Catholic Social Teaching If the Church does notice something is wrong within our society. The Church has to speak out loud and clear what is wrong in our society, If the gap between rich and poor is growing to large. It is than a matter for the Church to speak out about the injustice done towards a group of citizens who don’t have the means to stand up for itself. Please do re–read the social encyclicals very careful. Church and state can never be fully seperated. very special in the areas of injustice being done to any group within the population of a country. If we speak about the Gospel being preached. Which also includes the social teaching of the Church because it is very deep rooted in the Gospel. We cannot seperate one from the other. God Bless . John.

  29. Thien Ta says:

    Before i express my opinion, I came to USA,from a 3rd world country of Vietnam, as a 12 y.o. refugee boy back in 1975. I ppreciate all the wonderful social programs that the government has aided my family. I am even more grateful to all the donors that made it possible for Catholic Charities to assist immigrants and refugees in adapting to this land of opportunities & freedom.

    With that being said, I favored Mr. Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” plan for the reasons of liberty. We should not rob from X to give it to Z. St. Paul said: “Each one should give as much as he has decided on his own initiative, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7). It goes againts freewill to force one group of citizens pay extra extra tax, just because they don’t belong to the “have not’s”. Using Catholic social teaching to defend Mr. Obama’s raising tax is conveniently entangle of the separation of Church and State issue. What’s more, there are too many regulations and compliances. This is what socialist regime like the current Vietnamese government is all about!

    An Eastern philosohper, Confucious, once said that “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Confucious’ philosphy distinguishes 2 solutions to a poverty challenge: temporary solution of feeding the less fortunate (via social program), or a long term solution that is a win-win situation (a person is helped so that he/she can help himself/herself). I believed Mr. Ryan’s plan is a just attempt to achieve a long term solution that the temporary solution have failed over decades (FDR & Jimmy Carter).

    I realized that not all members in society will fully be able to learn and “to fish” on his own. Take Sinapore for example. They don’t have social programs like Welfare, and so economists classified them as “stingy nanny”. However, is this meant that they care less about the less fortunate? No. Their non-profit organizations and churches are able to rise up and help the less fortunate — in a volunteering basis!

    With regard to “teach a man to fish and you feed him a life time” quote, the closest scripture verse that i can relate to is from St. Paul to the Thessalonians: “We urged you when we were with you not to let anyone eat who refused to work.” (2 Thes 2:10)

    God bless this great nation!

  30. Senora Dave says:

    Much of the liberal philosophy of big government flies in the face of some basic Catholic doctrine; that is we are judged by both by our actions and inactions. God has given us the most basic of freedoms and respect by giving us free will. In other words, no one else is responsible for our actions and inactions (i.e. sinfulness, spiritual growth, reception sacraments including marriage, and career paths, financial security, etc. etc.).

    Big government programs are operated with massive faceless and efficient bureaucracies that often create dependencies in which people yield their free will, and their responsibility for utilizing it. Once dependencies are created, usually the ability to utilize our God given freedom is diminished. As the old saying goes, “Have you ever seen a pig that doesn’t squeal when it’s removed from the trough?” Some modern cases in point are the recent riots in some of the European countries, notably Greece. The bigger the dependency created, it seems the more freedom and responsibility for one’s self goes with it. In addition, running big deficits devalue the worth of currency (the U.S. Dollar), and these devaluations hit the poor the hardest. As these devaluations will eventually begin to accelerate and finally could spiral out of control.

    However, there is also another negative effect. If the perception exists that the recipients of these programs are being, “…taken care of,” then one’s individual conscience requiring assisting those in need seems to also diminish. After many years of working in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul with the very poor, my personal observation is that many perceive that the poor are being taken care and therefore these programs absolve them of any spiritual obligation to personally assist. It seems obvious that the more taxes and “fees” that are collected the bigger this perception becomes, and the less money there will be used to exercise our “free will” and obligation to assist.

  31. David says:

    I think that if we take Ryan at his word, then we would still have some difficult questions to ask. If we favor the wealthy with tax cuts, laying aside the fact that not all wealthy people are job-creators, will they indeed come through and give us more jobs? I’m skeptical. Up till the present, our economic recovery has been based on the fact that the wealthy are making money right now. But I’ve also heard that the recovery is very slow because, despite the fact that the corporations are turning a proft, they’re still not hiring. In fact they’re downsizing and giving more responsibilities to fewer and fewer employees. They are doing that instead of hiring more people and distributing the workload to more people. Computer automation is also making jobs redundant. Outsourcing is irresistable. And even if you could still argue in favor of lowering taxes… is right now the time to do it? Our government needs revenue right now and not later. Even if you were to completely eliminate Social Security and Medicare tomorrow, would you still want to lower taxes right now?

  32. Brian English says:

    “My vote is with the local communities. Lower my taxes. Cut spending. Allow me to use my money to help my local charities.”

    Exactly. I will never understand why the Church in this country has never viewed with alarm the consolidation of power in a federal government that is, at best, passively hostile to the Church.

    “If the federal government is so good at helping the less fortunate, why are there so many more now than at the start of Johnson’s “Great Society”? The government solution just doesn’t work.”

    Contrast that failure with what the Church was able to do for the Irish in New York in the 19th Century. Simply providing material sustenance is not enough (you would think the whole “stones into bread” episode would have clued people into that).

    And what exactly did poor people and the elderly do before 1965?

    • latinmass4evah says:

      “I will never understand why the Church in this country has never viewed with alarm the consolidation of power in a federal government that is, at best, passively hostile to the Church. ”
      It is because a great deal of Catholic Charities as well as the Church’s tax exempt status depends on this socialistic government growing and handing out more money. It also reinforces the Marxist principles of “social justice” and liberation theology that have infested the Catholic Church in the America’s.

  33. Brian English says:

    Here is link that I think is relevant to this discussion:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/272081/what-does-american-poverty-look-ken-mcintyre

  34. John Flaherty says:

    What bothers me the most about this whole situation is this:
    In all the debate to avoid harming the poor, advocates seem adamantly unwilling to admit that we can’t help the poor if we don’t have any money available from government coffers to help those impoverished needy.

    Ever since my days as a paper carrier (mid-80′s), I’ve been reading articles or hearing about the debt that our federal government has racked up. We can argue round and round about precisely who started incurring debt and why, but the upshot of all is that every President and every Congress over the past 80-90 years have contributed to the debt crisis we face now. Responsible persons have been warning us, as a nation, for at LEAST 3 decades that we can’t afford to keep spending in the manner we have.

    So..where do we cut spending?

    I’ve heard various proposals to cut the military, cut foreign aid, cut this, cut that,.or raise taxes.

    Problem is, anything we do now will inflict some degree of harm on someone.

    If you think Mr. Ryan’s proposals unconscionable, I wonder what you’ll think when government agencies wind up closed down because there’s no money left to fund them to operate?

    Our nation has, willingly or not, sunk itself into debt literally by trillions of dollars. Even if we raised taxes to a prohibitive point, we still couldn’t pay it off in my lifetime.
    If we don’t make the cuts Ryan proposes, it’s entirely possible that we’ll ultimately be unable to borrow from anyone, which will inevitably mean that government won’t have any money to pay for anything, which will essentially mean that..it’ll be very difficult, at best, to even maintain social order in this nation.

    I hate to sound doom and gloom, but I wonder if people have thought about the what’ll happen to the poor and needy if the nation implodes?
    The situation could make the Great Depression look like a children’s game of hopscotch.

    We’d be better off to allow suffering than to allow societal meltdown.

    • Jack Quirk says:

      Our marginal tax rates are the lowest they’ve been since 1931. The public debt cannot be dealt with by budget cuts alone. Having two wars and cutting taxes at the same time is guaranteed to cause a crisis of the kind we’re having now.

      • John Flaherty says:

        You can’t afford to raise taxes, Jack. Not even by allowing tax exemptions to expire.
        If you raise taxes, you inherently discourage people from starting new businesses, precisely because you’ve made the cost of doing business grow higher.
        While listening to either Mark Levin or Jerry Doyle last night, I heard a business leader comment that no business doesn’t want to start anything new right now, precisely because they don’t know what President Obama and Congress will do. So many proposals have been made and debated that no one knows what the economic landscape will look like in six months.

        If we want to see this nation survive much longer, we’ll need to see a logical, consistent economic policy.
        Sad to say, I’m not convinced we’ll see that happen with this President. Unfortunately, I’m not even entirely sure that any of his Republican opponents can do much better.

  35. Max says:

    My vote is to end the wars that we can no longer afford. We are bombing and/or have troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. That is unsustainable. We have over 900 military bases in nearly 120 countries. We have bases in Germany and Japan from WWII. We have bases in Korea from the Korean war. It’s time to close most of those bases down. We can’t afford it anymore.

    That is where the compromise must come from. Cut funding for Defense contractors (Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater, etc), and keep child healthcare for example.

    Msgr. Pope, I strongly suggest that you read “Liberty Defined” by Ron Paul, and I think you will find cogent and reasonable proposals on everything from war, abortion, torture, immigration, debt, religious freedom, civil liberties, and more. We need to re-think the role of the Federal government.

    • latinmass4evah says:

      “and keep child healthcare for example.

      Msgr. Pope, I strongly suggest that you read “Liberty Defined” by Ron Paul,”

      Ron Paul advocates socialized childcare programs at the federal level???

  36. Maureen says:

    My concern is that most of the discussion is so one-sided & always focused on spending cuts without any discussion of increased revenue. In 2000 we had a substantial surplus and somewhere in there, President Bush returned that subsidy via tax cuts which were set to expire. That makes sense – we have more money than we need, give some back.

    Now we’re post September 11th. We’re fighting two wars and have had a recession which is crushing jobs. We need more money than we currently have to pay our debts. I know everyone says we can’t tax the rich because they create jobs. Well, why haven’t they created any then? Those tax cuts were meant to expire. The surplus is long gone so common sense says, we ask for some back.

    To me any budget discussion which focuses only on cuts, without revenue, is doomed to defer recovery and real fiscal security.

    • latinmass4evah says:

      “In 2000 we had a substantial surplus and somewhere in there, ”
      Those spending cuts came from a republican congress who CUT SPENDING. Tax revenue actually went UP when Bush cut taxes despite being in a recession. Google the Laffer Curve.

      “so common sense says, we ask for some back. ”
      You seem to be under the mistaken impression that people’s earnings is money that belongs to the government. It is the property of the people. The people did not take their earnings from the government. The government takes the people’s earnings from them.

      • John Flaherty says:

        We DO need to be careful with this assessment, I think. It’s true enough perhaps that tax revenues rose with Pres Bush’s tax cuts. Trouble is, our spending jumped dramatically at the same time.

        We felt we needed to take rigorous action to improve stateside security after 9/11. We spent huge sums of money doing it. That didn’t help our current financial situation.

        ..I’ve also heard that Bush’s administration spent a great deal of money that wasn’t related to internal security. One prime example would be the drug benefits portion of Medicare that Bush began. That cost A LOT too.

  37. Mike G says:

    Interesting article. There is excellent Catholic commentary on Ryan and the budget on http://www.catholicurrent.com/#/.

  38. Dr. Veritatis says:

    To Maureen et al:

    If you took all of the money away from the “rich,” it might be able to run the country for a week at most. Then where would you look next for more revenue?

    Also, the reason why jobs aren’t being created is due to the uncertainty in the markets and what Obama might do with taxes. He provides no confidence to business leaders, so the prudent business leaders properly hold back on spending/investing when they may need more money to pay higher rates.

    Common sense Econ 101.

    All the Best and God Bless

    Dr. Veritatis

  39. Jacob S says:

    A lot of us seem to want to charity to be handled on a more local scale, or by churches and the like, but aren’t sure how to go about making the change.

    A thought – government social programs are less efficient than local ones. Charitable donations are already tax deductible. So, if we want a return to donations to local organizations being the driving force of charity, then we could increase the tax benefits of donating to approved charities, or charities with approved goals (helping the poor, yes. An animal clinic,or research center – maybe not until it’s seen that the system actually helps the poor.). Say, deduct 125% of what is donated instead of 100% from income, or some other value that makes sense after the numbers are run, and after it is seen how much people take advantage of this, cut some federal programs to even things out.

    There might be less money in the charitable works system, but if the percentage is set right there could be the same or more “working money” or whatever it’s called. If people do begin to donate more to the poor, then the government social budget could gradually be lowered compensate, so that there are no abrupt changes in how people go about getting aid.

    And of course, if people largely fail to respond to the incentive to be charitable, tax collection would not go down. So there wouldn’t be less money available for the programs already in place, and the plan would flop without hurting anything.

    Random thought, no idea if it’d work (or how many people have had it before me), but thought I’d throw it out there, in the spirit of the internet.

  40. Linus says:

    I would like to add something to my previous comments. Recently the Pope called for the mobilization of the world’s resources to aid approximately a 100 million refugees fleeing drought in the Horn of Africa. Several weeks ago he reiterated his support of ” clean ” energy, pointing to the Vatican’s clean energy system as an example. First it needs to be pointed out that the only ” clean ” energy we have is natural gas ( I do not regard nuclear energy as truely clean). The ” clean ” energy the Holy Father pointed to ( solar panels ) are not truely clean, they were manufactured by using some form of ” dirty ” energy and they must be backed up by a ” dirty ” energy power plant. And the food and resources needed by those 100 million refugees was not planted, grown, harvested, and transported by ” clean ” energy and never could be.

    But there is a huge clunker no one has yet mentioned. The Horn of Africa is not the only place experiencing drought. Russia and other Eastern European countries experienced serious drought last year and so did much of the U.S. And this year the U.S. is experiencing serious drought West and South of the Missouri and serious flooding in the Missouri and Mississippi river bottom land. I don’t know what the prospective crop production for the rest of the world is but crop production in the U.S. will be down seriously. With optimum conditions it would be difficult for the world to feed 100 million refugees. I don’t see how it can be done with the U.S. experiencing crop shortages itself – complicated of course by the insane policy of using food crops ( mostly corn) to power our cars and trucks!!!!

    When I think of these things and think of Catholic Social Policy I really do have to smile a little. Who really does think of these ” pie in the sky ” notions?

    • John Flaherty says:

      Weeeeelllll….. Keep in mind, having energy at all requires being “dirty” in some way.
      Natural gas burns, so there’s a little exhaust involved. AND, you must pull it out of the ground somewhere, just as you do with oil. Propane’s the same way.
      “Renewable” energies require building solar panels, windmills, or dams to harness those kinds of energies, so there’s material use and waste there too, especially because they WILL wear out, even if it takes 100 years.

      Nuclear energy requires obtaining uranium, plutonium, or some other fissionable material (I have no idea what current plants use) from someplace, as well as storing the waste and the handling materials somewhere afterward.

      We have no smoking gun solutions for these problems. There’s always a cost somewhere.

  41. Bender says:

    When the federal government is spending $3.7 trillion (or $3.7 million million) per year, an increase of $800 billion over just four year ago, it is hard to honestly claim that we are not spending enough, or that if we spent only $3 trillion per year (which would still be a substantial increase over 2008 levels) that that would be a “cut,” much less a draconian cut. It is such blatent and overt budgetary dishonest and deceit and fraud that has gotten us to the brink.

    I remember growing up, when each and every year they would talk about “drastic budget cuts.” And yet, the government budget skyrocketed in those years.

    No More Lies.

    The people are on to this scam. They are on to those who would spend us into perpetual bondage to creditors. They are on to those who would do to the entire country what they have done to the big cities, creating nothing but devastation in the inner cities.

    And they are on to those partisans who would also distort and pervert the concept of “social justice” as a means instead to promote discord and division and resentment. What inspires them is not a desire for social justice, but envy. And their solution is theft. Not one single person that I’ve heard call for tax increases has volunteered to pay more themselves, rather, they call instead for taking other people’s money. And this despite the fact that those other people already have more than half of the fruits of their labors confiscated by government.

    A government which, by the way, is the biggest fat cat around, that is, it is the richest and wealthiest entity the world has ever known. But still the greed of the government and the anti-freedom statists is not satiated. They still want more.

    This is not justice. This is not charity. This is not truth. It is the antithesis of social justice, it is the antithesis of caritas in veritate.

  42. David H. says:

    The issue is not should the poor be helped, but should they go to work. Some are incapable of working, these should be helped without caveat. Some play the system.

    While riding a bus in college, I listen to two twenty-something mothers. One said she needed more money. The other told the needy mother “Have another child, they will give you more money.” This is the kind of problem we have.

    There are some holes in the Safety Net, however. What about transition to work? Should a recipient loose are benefits in thirty days, or six months? There has to be a transition plan in place for it to work.

    • Vincent says:

      Welfare reform in the mid 90′s was supposed to fix this by instituting a welfare to work model and placing lifetime limits on welfare benefits. While it did reduce the number of people on the welfare roles, the social effects have been concerning. In order to remain eligible for welfare, one has to enroll in a job training/education program and eventually start working. What they have found is that having single moms out of the home going to school or working ends up resulting in lower school performance and much higher levels of negative behavior (drug/alcohol use, early sexual activity, crime, etc.) among the kids of these women. There ends up being a much higher social cost to having these people in school and at work than if they just stayed home and took care of their kids.

      Also, when government starts capping benefits and refusing to give more money to parents with more kids, this simply encourages abortion.

  43. Christopher Manion says:

    The most important principle at work in this exchange is one that our priests and bishops should teach more clearly to the laity, namely:

    That good Catholics can disagree, even with bishops, on a wide array of prudential political issues, some of which can elicit powerful partisan passions.

    Since Cardinal Gibbons a hundred years ago, our good American bishops, especially through their ever-growing bureaucracies, have increasingly identified their platform and their politics with the Democrats. That is their privilege, of course — even though one would hope that they would wake up and discover that they are joined at the hip with the culture of death, a relationship which, on reflection, has not served the Church or its teachings well.

    Not that the Republicans are much better: for instance, the bishops and both parties support sending half a **billion** dollars worth of contraceptives and Depo Provera to Third World countries, many of them Catholic. They even ask us to write our senators in support of this legislation.

    Bad judgment all around, to be sure. Isn’t it time for a change? For the teaching of a forgotten truth?

    The **principle** of Lumen Gentium 37 must be made clear: the magisterial authority of bishops does not extend to prudential issues where good Catholics — including bishops — can disagree. A bishop’s opinion (or that of the USCCB) on the particulars such an issue (immigration, health care) is **not** binding on the faithful; a bishop’s teaching on Humanae Vitae — ALL of it — is indeed binding, because it is a truth we must embrace in order to be saved.

    A sad result of the ignorance or abuse of this basic principle is evident in the loss of authority experienced by bishops regarding abortion and the defiance of Church teaching by “Catholic” politicians who advocate abortion and pridefully insist on receiving the Eucharist as their “right,” while their bishop looks on silently.

    Meanwhile, our beloved bishops, for whom we pray daily, have virtually abandoned preaching Humanae VItae, even though Pope Benedict has begged his pastors to preach the **entirety** of the Church’s moral teaching, especially the “uncomfortable” parts.

    The USCCB begs us to call Congress because the price of tomatoes in Florida is too low. When is the last time you heard a bishop denounce federal funding of contraceptives? When is the last time your bishop issued a pastoral letter teaching the objective and profound evil of homosexual acts? Of (pardon me for employing pre-Vatican II vocabulary) fornication and adultery?

    Whatever the outcome of the budget battle, if the bishops and their bureaucracy begin to accrue a respect for Catholics with political opinions with which they disagree, instead of calling them “bigots” (regarding amnesty for illegal aliens) or “greedy” (regarding economic issues), then we can thank God for such progress in the spirit of the Gospel, however incremental.

    Let us pray that our bishops will some day teach clearly the difference between their preaching of binding truths and their embrace of private political opinions. The laity should join with them to work towards that day, even though it will be a long, hard slog.

    • Tom T says:

      Christopher, well stated. Two Archbishops come to my mind immediately although I am sure there are more.
      Archbishop Chaput and we are Blessed indeed to have him appointed as leader of the Archdiocese of Phila.And Archbishop Gomez, who is an Opus Dei Priest, Archbishop of Los Angeles. Archbishop Chaput is a Capuchin
      and a conservative who says it like it is and is not intimidated by politicians who he believes are publicly in
      opposition to Church teaching and would withhold Communion from a pro-choice Catholic politician in a New
      York minute. I wish we had more . Pax

  44. Fr. John Lankeit says:

    Moderator, please replace my previous comment with this one.

    One of the ways the Democrat party has successfully duped the public is to convince the public that they are the only party that cares about people, because they appeal to emotion at the cost of critical thinking. It is evident in Stephen Schneck’s argument. If you look at the tenor of the two arguments , Ryan’s is based on objective argument, while Schneck’s smacks of the emotionalism and class warfare so typical of progressives. The notion that Democrats really care about people and Republicans care only about business is false. Democrat anti-life, anti-family, anti-marriage policies notwithstanding, their fiscal policies create the very dependence on government that lead to the poverty the claim to seek to eradicate. But because they package their policies in “nice” rhetoric. too many Catholics have, unfortunately, taken the bait.

    Disclaimer: We have also been betrayed by flip-flopping Republicans when it comes to the life issue, so please don’t interpret this is an unabashed endorsement of the Republican party. There is no solidly Catholic party. That being said, the Democrat party has all but overtly declared war on the very Catholic principles they claim to support. They are truly the party of death. Wake up Catholics!

    • Thien Ta says:

      I agreed that the Democrat knows how “market” their message and package their ideology such that it’s all about the people. As you peel those layers out, it is about “certain type” of people (the elites) and not the general public as they make out to be. History have shown that they were not on the side of liberty (freedom for slavery, rights to life, religious protection). Our Christianity is being attacked by policies that embraced culture of death, anti-traditional marriage/family, socialism, etc…

    • Tom T says:

      Fr. John Lankeit,
      Thank you for that message. It dose need to be said more often. A perfect example of what you say is
      here in Penna. I have gone back and forth with a Vice Superior of a monastery in Pittsburg that I know who
      has tried to convince me that Sen Casey a Democrate is pro-life. When I contacted Casey about his vote
      to fund planned Parenthood, he told me well they do so much good for the health issues of poor woman.
      When I gave the figures on the number of abortions they do, he claimed that`s not funded by the Federal
      Govt. Then when I forwarded an article of an underground film crew recording planned parenthood giving
      advice to underage prostitutes on how to prevent getting pregnant and how to obtain free abortions some of
      whom by the way were illegally transported into this Country for the purpose of prostitution, I never heard
      another word. I forwarded all this to my friend in Pittsburg, haven`t heard back from him either. To add salt
      to the wounds of misconceptions, I read in Campus Notes that Sen. Casey was invitied for commencement
      address at Villinova College a Catholic College run by the Augustinians. Almost as bad as Obama being awarded
      an honarary doctorate at Notre Dame. No wonder Catholics are mislead. Blessings to you Father in our fight for
      the little ones.

  45. Flamen says:

    I look at ADVENT to get information on things Catholic. Therefore, I only see your articles after many comments have been published. This is a very well balanced presentation and your comments are very interesting.. However, in the past elections priests and bishops urged Catholics to vote pro-life, i.e. Republican. I am sure that they will do so again. Recently, nearly 5,000 pastors have written to the President and Congressional leaders “not to short the poor” The letter specifically mentions Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Head Start and Pell grants among the federal programs that the signers view as critical to the nation’s future. How many Catholic pastors and bishops have signed such a letter or actively press for such programs? When the Republicans will not raise taxes one cent on the very rich can we really support their program? Is their intransigence really Christian? Will God judge us on how well we protect the top 1 percent or how we follow Christ’s comment to care to the least of our brethren. Speaking to an usher about the priest’s condemning those who have been pro-choice, he said, “No one pays any attention to him.” Soon people will pay no attention to anything the church teaches and will then drift away from the church. Just consider the state of the Church in Europe and the exodus of Catholics in Germany from the Church. If the Republicans push through their agenda to eviscerate all entitlements, the middle class will hold the Church responsible for its part in the results. If the Church can’t speak out for closing the loopholes for the billionaires and huge corporations, then it will be impotent when it speaks to other issues.

    • Tom T says:

      Flamen,
      Sounds to me you pay more attention to the usher than you do the priest. Once again, It is a sin to
      vote for a pro-choice politician. The Church is not a democracy and many people throughout history
      have left because they don`t agree with the Doctrines. “Many are called few are chosen.” There are
      are Republicans that are not pro-life that I will not vote for. It just so happens that more Republicans
      are pro-life than are Democrates and the Church is not allowed to tell people what party are who to vote
      for. The Church would lose it`s tax emption status if it got involved in politics. Rather than worry about
      how much billionaires and corporations pay in taxes, and by the way it is my understanding they pay the
      lions share with the highest capital gains tax in the world, and the poor and most middle class pay
      very little or nothing, worry about the culture of death, because when you get old they may decide
      you are not worth keeping alive. I don`t why you find it so hard to understand the country is broke.
      There is no more money. Wealth redistribution has never worked as in Marxism and socialism as
      history has shown time and again,it`s been tried. We do much in our parish to help the poor and the homeless.
      We have a food bank and we distribute to people who can`t get out and that is where charity and
      help should come from. Neighbors helping neighbors on a local level. There is also Catholic Charities
      and many religious organizations that help the poor and homeless. Advent is a good source of
      information.Pax

  46. Joe Hermes says:

    Msgr.
    God bless you for the insight you bring to this work you are engaged in. From all of the comments to this issue of solving the public debt problem it is clear that it’s a hot topic. I only have a couple of comments that seem to me to be at the heart of the issue. First of all, it seems that none of us really grasp the entire issue — which is understandable considering its vast ramifications. However, why is it that the people we elect to represent us do not seem to have any stomach for making sure that EVEY DOLLAR collected by our governments are spent only for the legal purpose intended. Every day national financial and local publications publish articles about the vast amount of money (billions upon billions of dollars) that is consumed by graft, misappropration and tax cheating – military spending, medicare and medicaid programs, first time home buyers tax program, farm program, education spending etc,, etc., etc. And waste and excess is a whole different matter. Yet in their “whisdom” congress has severely cut the budget of the IRS and other watchdog agencies which exacerbates their work in recovering from dishonest contractors and tax dollars from tax cheaters which amouts to tens of billions of dollars annually.
    At the end of the day it seems to me the real problem lies with us. You and me, our families, right on through our entire society. We have become a bunch of takers. We talk a good game but are not willing to sacrifice our wants for the good of our society as a whole. We are soft, we want instant gratification and wealth. We look to our governments for a handout no matter where we stand on the economic ladder — from the poorest to the richest.
    I believe our biggest problem is that we have lost our way. We refuse to put God first in our lives. We elect representitives who represent our values. That’s how laws are past supporting abortion, same sex marriage, contraception, divorce, etc. It’s how we have got to the point that for every dollar our federal government spends 40% of it is borrowed money. We are on a slippery slope indeed.

    • Tom T says:

      Joe, I think you over simplified the problems. Also I believe your too generally judgemental of people. In a nation of three hundred miilion people your never going to get a concensus on any sinlge or group of issues effecting the country. The situation with politicians and politics is much to complicated to be able to simply blame any particular participant. Capitalism is and of itself based on greed. The tax code is way to complicated which
      is one reason corporations have hired tax lawyers who spend their careers looking for loop holes. Wash D.C. is full of lobbyists who were former legislatures who lost an office and found work representing special interests groups and add all that to politicians who don`t really care about anything except getting re-elected and tell their constituents anything they want to hear and then do the opposite and blame each other when everything goes wrong. The average working people in this country, as are small businesses, are not on a level playing field. To give just one example, I`ll take the Port of Calif. The EPA comes along and tells trucking companies that they can no longer operate old trucks in the ports. So the shippers and end users and the shipping companies scream and sue, and the government offers them money for new trucks with low interest loans in order to be in compliance. Another example would be farmers who are told not to plant certain products to maintain prices and then pays the farmers for the income they would lose by following the law. Add to all that a population that has been dumbed down by a failed education system that sponsers drop outs and graduates people who can`t read or write, throw in the public sector unions that contribute hugh payments to politicians that will pass favorable laws, special interests groups, as mentioned and back room deals like Geofry Imult and GE and the Obama administration and you can easily see that the system is designed to encourage exactly what you have described along with the sheer frustration and apathy that the situation provokes. There simply is no easy solution nor can you place blame on any one segment of society. It is much too complicated. Intentionaly or not it is designed that way. All we know for certain, at this point is, the country is broke and headed for default because very simply they spent more of our money than they are taking in and it was not just one party that did that, although at this point in time, it is only one party that is trying to avoid the inevitable and another party that wants to continue spending. Now that they are dead locked, trust me, there is going to be another back room deal that will probably by pass the constitution and find a way to make winners out of all of them. And we the people will be on the loosing end of it all. Pax.

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