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Fixing the Moral Deficit
A Balanced Way to Balance the Budget

By Ronald J. Sider

Introduction

America faces a historic choice. We have a deficit crisis, a poverty crisis and a justice crisis. And they are all interrelated.

We have a deficit crisis. Do you know which country in the world has the largest debt? The United States. The richest nation in the world is running a huge federal deficit year after year. The national debt is growing at a pace that will eventually produce huge economic problems.

We also have a poverty crisis. Poverty is growing in the richest nation in human history. In the past thirty years the poorest 20% of Americans have become poorer. There are now more Americans living in poverty than at any time in the last fifty years. At the same time, the richest 20% (and especially the richest 5%) have become vastly more wealthy.

Together, the deficit crisis and the poverty crisis produce a justice crisis. Some politicians want to hide their heads in the sand, ignore the debt crisis and keep borrowing. That is flatly immoral. That means putting current expenditures on our grandchildren's credit cards. We want things now but refuse to tax ourselves to pay for them so we simply borrow more money. Our children and grandchildren will have to repay the debt.

That is intergenerational injustice.

Other politicians want to balance the federal budget on the backs of the poor. They propose slashing effective programs that save millions of lives in poor nations and that provide opportunities for and empower poor Americans to escape poverty. At the same time these same politicians want to give more tax cuts to the same wealthy people who have become vastly richer over the last thirty years—even as poor Americans have slipped further into poverty. That is also blatant injustice.

These three crises add up to a huge moral deficit. But there is a balanced way to fix it.

I believe there is a way forward that is both economically wise and morally just. I also believe most American Christians would choose such a path if they understood both the hard economic facts and relevant biblical principles.

This book seeks to provide both. Nobody can be fully objective, but I will try to lay out the facts about how we got into this mess in a way that is as objective and nonpartisan as I can be. I will also spell out the most important biblical principles relative to our situation. Then I will sketch what I believe is a just, workable path out of our triple crisis. There is a balanced way to balance the federal budget.

Make no mistake. The nation faces a momentous choice. How we decide will determine whether America will journey on toward greater liberty and justice for all or descend into gross injustice and dangerous division.

One important note. My writing this book on the specific topic of a just, wise way to solve our budget crisis does not mean I think this is the only important political issue today. I remain committed, as I have for decades, to a biblically balanced political agenda that is pro-life and pro-poor, pro-family and pro-creation care, pro-sexual integrity and pro-peacemaking. The budget crisis is just one of several exceedingly urgent issues today demanding prompt, wise action.