It seems that just about nobody is happy about the debt deal. Tea-partiers feel they lost. Liberals feel they lost. The American people certainly lost and whether he feels that way or not, President Obama surely lost. But there are others that also lost in this deal. Others that many people would be surprised to see in a list of losers because of the debt deal, Bishops Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, and Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York. And by extension, all the Bishops of the USCCB lost in this deal.
Americans may have lost a great opportunity to get our fiscal house in order, politicians may have lost their base or some political capital, but the bishops lost something even more precious—their credibility.
It is often appropriate and even necessary for bishops, either individually or collectively, to weigh in on important moral matters of the day and I am usually a cheerleader when they do. Matters of grave importance could and should prompt bishops to weigh in on politics to make sure that inviolable principles are not violated. The basic rights to life and liberty come to mind.
So in this vein, when many bishops weighed in on Obamacare and the plan to fund abortions with taxpayer dollars, some bishops rightfully spoke up to defend life. That is a principle worth defending. But when bishops speak up to defend federal programs from having the future rate of growth cut in extremely modest ways as a way to just begin to address the serious issue of runaway debt (which is also a moral problem,) the bishops do themselves and their confreres a disservice.
This is exactly what the Bishops of Stockton and Albany did when they issued a “pastoral” letter on this topic using Democrat talking points.
A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.
Chuckie Schumer couldn’t have said it better. What does that tell you?
When Bishops use their God-given office to defend baseline budgeting for programs of dubious value paid for by money we do not have, they destroy their credibility. Further, when the whole house of cards comes crashing down, and it certainly will if we continue to follow the advice of these bishops, I can assure you that the poor will be hurt worst of all. And all the talking points in the world won’t do anything to help them then.
In the long list of people who came out on the losing end of the budget deal, don’t forget to include the bishops.