Boehner: Bishops need to “take a bigger look” at budget


House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) chastised Catholic bishops at a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill, saying they needed to look at the bigger picture after they complained that the GOP budget plan fails to meet “moral criteria.”

The bishops had written letters to Capitol Hill, arguing many elements of the Republicans’ budget proposal, such as cuts to food stamps, harmed the poor while the wealthy benefitted.

“At a time of great competition for agricultural resources and budgetary constraints, the needs of those who are hungry, poor and vulnerable should come before assistance to those who are relatively well off and powerful,” stated one of the letters.

“Just solutions … must require shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and fairly addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs. The House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria,” they declared in another document.

Boehner, who is a Catholic, acknowledged the bishops’ moral authority but suggested their focus was too narrow as they scolded Republicans over cutting assistance to those who are poor, hungry and homeless.

“I want them to take a bigger look,” Boehner said. “And the bigger look is, if we don’t make decisions, these programs won’t exist, and then they’ll really have something to worry about.”

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  1. Its amazing the power of words a journalist can use . I don’t get a sense that the Speaker “chastised” the Bishops from reading his statement. I get the sense it was we have a problem. If x does not happen y ( which is bad) will. Now a person may or not agree with that but I think “chastised” is the wrong word unless chastised means “wait look at this and see where we are coming from”

    Maybe there is more to what he said that is not in the article

  2. I think Mr. Boehner, and many politicians on both sides, need to look closer at the budget. We need a balanced budget, less spending on defense, and “shared sacrifice” by all. We do need to fund education, infrastructure, and research and development. Federal lifetime time limits of five years on cash welfare assistance (TANF, or temporary assistance for needy families) were put in place under legislation signed by President Clinton.

  3. I would argue that the Bishops are looking at the bigger picture!

  4. Probably the bigger pictures that they are looking at are those of themselves that we see in every diocese building, often in multiple places.

  5. The bishops never learn. If you want the government to take care of everything and everybody then of course the government has the right to tell us that we have to pay for it… including the birth control.

  6. Mark Greta says:

    The response should be a question. Why have almost all the dioceses in the USA closed parishes in poorer neighborhoods? They say there is not enough money to keep these parishes going. If they cleaned up the sex abuse scandal on day one and never covered up for any perverts, seems like there would be a lot of money to go around for the poor.

    For the Bishops to criticize the government over funding issues is a joke. They need to stick to issues of faith and morals such as abortion, religious liberty, and protecting the family and social morals. The same is true of immigration. When they have been guilty of covering up crime, not sure their advocating more illegal crimes in immigration or rewarding illegal acts makes much sense. Are they really arguing that they want to be able to give aid and comfort to those breaking the laws of the country? Wasn’t that the main complaint that really made people made in the cover up of a crime? In the midst of a holocaust of 54 million babies, arguing about food stamps seems like arguing about deck chairs. If something is not done, there will not only be massive cuts in food stamps, but every other government program including medicare, medicaid, and veterans health beneifts. We are 16 going on 17 trillion dollars in debt. If we take all the money our great grandchildren will pay in their lifetime in taxes it will not be enought to get us out of debt.

    So when we see the bishops of flourishing dioceses with all the parishes humming economicly, then we might want to look into how the bishops accomplished this. maybe they need to take the money from the richer parishes spend it on the poorer ones. See how long they keep collecting funds from the rich parishes. Want to build a new church, show the bishop the money first with a clear ability to pay as you go. The letter sent was a joke and the Bishops who sent it need to be evaluated to see how they are handling their own dioceses.

    One thing is certain: I do not see every bishop in the USA united with them as they were on the Obama attack on the constitutional religious liberty protection or the united front against abortion.

  7. We have poverty programs that provide shelter and food and living expenses, we have free education and job training, we have libraries and public parks and even some publically funded entertainment, we have free medical for the poor. Where is the lack of dignity? I would love to provide more for the poor. It is tough being poor. But at what point is a lifestyle embeded in destitute because one is accomodated with every need? There is dignity in self sufficiency.

    There is humility in being poor, and that is not undignified. In fact it is Christian. Taking money from some to provide for more than needs to others is not justice.

    I don’t see what is wrong with the budget. Society needs to tighten its belt so that we can get this economy on track.

  8. Henry Karlson says:

    But we have systematic evil, where the rich find they do not need to put their resources to use to help the poor, to make sure the poor have opportunities for “self-sufficiency.” The lack of real jobs should be telling people the system of the past is over; the kinds of labor needed in the past are not needed today thanks to technology. Those who own the resources do not need as many people to work them to make huge profits — and this is why trickle down economics always fails; when the rich get richer they are not making more jobs, just more profit. We need to realize the changing economic system and not just base it on ancient, pre-technological views, and we must make sure that the system itself which is in place favors the poor, works for the poor, makes sure the poor get the opportunities; what the Ryan plan does, however, is tax the poor while the rich make out more wealth and are given more opportunities, while the poor, with no jobs (and no jobs to offer them) are told they are lazy. No, the rich are the lazy ones here, and the rich offer lazy budges with all kinds of excuses to denigrate the poor. The rich man and Lazarus shows there will be hell to pay for this.

  9. Fiergenholt says:

    Has John Boehner become the voice of the Catholicism of the Republican Party? Fascinating! What is even more fascinating is realizing that Boehner’s Catholicism — and maybe even his sense of integrity — was influenced greatly by Gerry Faust.

  10. “But we have systematic evil, where the rich find they do not need to put their resources to use to help the poor”

    Frankly that’s ridiculous. The top 5% of income earners pay something close to 40% of taxes, and that’s not including what they give (which in many cases is quite substantial) in charity. The bottom 50% of income earners pay something like 3% of the taxes. Your argument is flawed (to be generous, but wrong might be more accurate) when you look at the facts.

  11. Henry Karlson says:

    And the top 5% get more than 40% of the share of the wealth, so what surprise is it they pay more taxes? They have the resources, they get more than the rest combined, and yet they expect those who have no resources to pay more? That’s what is ridiculous. When the poor have no money for taxes because they rich took all the wealth out of the system, don’t complain the poor don’t pay taxes. The rich have all the money. Again, Rich Man and Lazarus time.

  12. Who is expecting the poor to pay more? Where is that from? Nobody is raising taxes on the poor. The poor don’t even pay taxes. That’s a strawman argument. Baloney.

    The rich took all the wealth out of the system? Huh????? They worked for it and people bought their products. They didn’t take anything. That’s Liberal ignorance of economics.

  13. Don from NH says:

    When will the bishops learn, as long as they align themselves with the republican party,,,, this is what you will get.

    You cant have have it both ways.

    Maybe some day they will realize they are used for political purposes and nothing else.

    So keep writing letters, it a look good feel good moment but it will go nowhere. Especially with the bunch that they are writing to.

  14. First it’s blastocysts and zygotes and embryos and sometimes fetuses, not babies.

    Second Jesus never mentioned abortion. Some popes of earlier ages didn’t consider abortion murder till after quickening so effective birth control would not have been, either. This idea of a conceptus being a person from fertilization is both rather new and silly.

    Third Jesus did talk about helping others, so if bishops want to obsess a little on what Jesus actually talked about I’d think Catholics would applaud it. Well the ones that aren’t terminally greedy anyway.

  15. We hear over and over how put upon the truly wealthy are, and they really aren’t. If you only consider federal income tax, they do pay a fair bit. But that’s a small part of the taxes we all pay. Go here for instance and you’ll learn that

    Despite skyrocketing incomes, the federal tax burden on the richest 400 has been slashed, thanks to a variety of loopholes, allowable deductions and other tools. The actual share of their income paid in taxes, according to the IRS, is 16.6 percent. Adding payroll taxes barely nudges that number.Compare that to the vast majority of Americans, whose share of their income going to federal taxes increased from 13.1 percent in 1961 to 22.5 percent in 2007.


    John Paulson, the most successful hedge-fund manager of all, bet against the mortgage market one year and then bet with Glenn Beck in the gold market the next. Paulson made himself $9 billion in fees in just two years. His current tax bill on that $9 billion? Zero.

    So please don’t bother trying to get me to pity the wealthy.

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