Pass the offering plate: Congress wants every church to cough up $50,000

Pass the offering plate: Congress wants every church to cough up $50,000 April 30, 2012

Bread for the World: “Congress Wants Your Church to Spend $50,000

The House of Representatives just proposed to cut more than $169 billion from SNAP, formerly the food stamps program. Some representatives argued that feeding hungry people is really the work of the churches.

These representatives are essentially saying that every church across America — big, small, and tiny — needs to come up with an extra $50,000 dedicated to feeding people — every year for the next 10 years — to make up for these cuts.

The Hartford Institute for Religion and Research estimates there are 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. If the proposals by the House of Representatives to cut SNAP by $133.5 billion and $36 billion are enacted, each congregation will have to spend approximately $50,000 to feed those who would see a reduction or loss of benefits.

* * * * * * * * *

This shouldn’t be so confusing:

You can argue that working in Career X is more difficult than raising children and managing a household.

You can argue that raising children and managing a household is more difficult than working in Career X.

But you cannot argue that either one of those is, by itself, more difficult than doing both at the same time.

* * * * * * * * *

More like this, please:

Speaking at the University of North Carolina about a bill to prevent some interest rates on some student loans from doubling, President Obama let loose with a lengthy dig at the state’s Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) for comments she made dismissing student’s complaints about their debt load.

“She said she had ‘very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt because there’s no reason for that.’ I’m just quoting here,” Obama said. “The students who rack up student loan debt are just ‘sitting on their butts having opportunity dumped in your lap.’ I’m reading it here. I didn’t make this up.”

He continued: “Now, can you imagine saying something like that?”

 

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  • Lori

     

    I know I can’t even judge students today by my college experience, and I graduated in the late ’80s and went to graduate school in the late ’90s.

    Absolutely. My undergrad experience in the mid-80s was nothing like my attempt to go to get a Master’s a couple years ago. Which is why I had a very small amount of debt from my BA and paid it off in less than 5 years, but my debt from the Master’s that I couldn’t even finish is going to end me.

  •  “I’m not calling all sports fans stupid and obsessed – just those who attend an excessive amount of sport, like more than one game a year.”

    Do you seriously not see the problem with what she’s saying?

  • Lori

     

    Do you seriously not see the problem with what she’s saying? 

    He isn’t trying to see it.

  • Dan Audy

    The price (in inflation adjusted dollars) for tuition, fees, room and board has more than doubled in the last 30 years, while the wages (again inflation adjusted) have remained stagnant or even decreased (for most degree requiring jobs).  That means that for Rep. Foxx and her husband to have made it through the University of North Carolina (a public university) they would have each needed to earn or take out loans for an additional $26,000.  

    A 4 year degree at a average private university is going to cost $120,000 now.  How is someone supposed to be able to do that without incurring at least $80,000 in debt without relying on family savings when there is such massive unemployment that they CAN’T get a job. 

    Rep. Foxx was a foul and hateful woman when she voted against relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina and against hate crimes.  Now we know she is stupid and deliberately ignorant of her responsibilities as a member of the subcommittees on education.

  • aunursa

    Deird: Do you seriously not see the problem with what she’s saying?

    Lori: He isn’t trying to see it.

    Lori is correct.  Before making a decision I would need to research more on this issue to determine who’s right and who’s wrong.  (I would no more accept the statements at face value of the regulars on this board than you would accept at face value the statements of myself or other conservatives.)  I have only a limited amount of space in my wee little conservative brain for political facts, and out of the hundreds of issues over which Republicans and Democrats beat each other up, this is not one of my hot-button issues.  Feel free to attack me for my apathy toward poor student graduates.

    I am simply fascinated that so many would respond to my correction of the president’s misquote (“I’m just quoting”) and our host’s spreading the lie — by attacking the representative for what you think she really meant.

    You all hate it when you think that I excuse real and imagined Republican sins by pointing out that “Democrats do it, too.”  But this is one of those situations in which if a Republican were caught distorting the statement of a Democrat, you would be all over the liar, saying how typical it is of Republicans to lie about, distort, and otherwise misrepresent the statements of Democrats in order to advance their political agenda.  But when a Democrat does it, it’s okay because even if he faked her actual reply, it’s accurate.  Oh,and all Republicans are evil anyway.

  • Anton_Mates

    It’s amusing that you misrepresent Beroli, converting “inaccurate” to “accurate,” after objecting (correctly) to Obama’s misquote of Foxx.

    Incidentally, most of those folks with the really high student debts are earners of professional degrees: doctors, dentists, lawyers.  The median debt for a graduating medical student is $155,000, saith the AAMC.  Lazy motherfuckers.

  • UrsulaL

    The following comment belongs to Ursula L but somehow ended up in That Liar Tony Perkins comment thread.  I’ve moved it here because it is darn smart and worthy of being part of our conversation.

  • Lori

     

    But this is one of those situations in which if a Republican were caught
    distorting the statement of a Democrat, you would be all over the liar,
    saying how typical it is of Republicans to lie about, distort, and
    otherwise misrepresent the statements of Democrats in order to advance
    their political agenda.   

    This is yet another case where your confirmation bias is showing. Obama’s comments about Foxx were essentially correct. She said something ignorant & demeaning about people with student loan debt. If we do what you claim to want us to do, which is look at exactly what she said, it does not support the claim you’re making that she was only insulting those with the very most debt. It just doesn’t.

    In situations where Republicans or their lackeys at Fox News have said something about Obama that it technically incorrect, but essentially true* there are people here who have agreed with them. You’re acting as if everyone here is the sort of fanatical Obama supporter that Fox claims all Democrats are. If you were remotely intellectually honest you’d drop that shit, if for no other reason than because we had a thread just last week where quite a few people discussed some of Obama’s serious failings in a fair amount of detail.

    You are so utterly full of shit.

    *This is not common. They’re fair more likely to say something that is technically correct, but essentially a lie.

  • (And even she sometimes forgets to dole out the paychecks on the right
    day because she seems to have simply forgotten the timing-urgencies when
    it comes to money under which other people live).

    Your boss also seems to have forgotten that that shit is also fucking illegal. In British Columbia, for example, you MUST be paid within one week of the end of a pay period.

  • P J Evans

     maybe I should ask my niece the lawyer, or my cousin the just-out-of-residency doctor, how much they had in loans when they graduated. Because I’d be willing to bet that it’s a lot more than $50k.

  • P J Evans

     I dropped out of college in the mid-80s and had $7500 in loans -back when interest was an affordable 3%. It took me all of ten years to pay it off, with some time out because of having no effing job for two years (the Bush41 recession).

    It would have been worse if I hadn’t had a job for several years that paid well at the same time that it was possible to make payments that were more than the monthly amount and applied to the principal.

    Foxx needs to talk to people who just graduated from college in anything, including law and med school, and to administrators at those schools, before she runs off at the mouth again about student loan debt.

  • For all those nitpicking Obama and the edges of the loan-debt problem – here’s the plain facts:

    1. All those poor saps who bought a house for like $700k and then the market bottomed out in 2007/8? Can get the debt wiped out through bankruptcy.

    Even if it was the stupidest decision like EVAR and was a showpiece home and had no actual redeeming value.

    2.  That guy who had a midlife crisis and got that $200k Porsche just before he lost his job?

    Can sell the car and get the remainder of the debt wiped out through bankruptcy if need be.

    Even though it probably had shitty gas mileage because he had a lead foot all the time and all he ever did with it was impress younger women who weren’t his wife.

    3. Those smart kids, those who believed the cultural myths in the USA that getting a bachelor’s degree is the golden ticket to a better life in an ever more uncertain economy and society where it’s almost like impossible to make a decent living with just high school?

    You know, those MBA students? The ones who’ll supposedly stimulate the economy with their fancypants degrees and give us redeeming social value unlike, say, a showboat of a house or a car? And they racked up $50k on average or more to get a degree especially if they went to MIT?

    Can’t get a job and can’t get the debt wiped out through bankruptcy.

    So, two of three useless debts can get wiped out even though they have no socially redeeming value, but one of three can’t, even though it has socially redeeming value.

    Just for fun I punched $50k into a mortgage calculator and amortized it over 25 years. Figure 5% interest.

    That’s like $300 a month, and most student loans are probably amortized over shorter time periods.

    Now, let us assume that our unlucky college grad has gotten US federal minimum wage plus a bit, so call it $7.50 an hour.

    Now, that is the princely sum of

    Wait for it

    $15,600 per year

    That is $1300 a month.

    Gross pay.

    Before taxes.

    Chomping $300 a month out of that is a burden too great to bear.

    But hey, it’s A-OK cos only like 0.000000000000001% of students have a massive debt greater than $80K!

    *rolling my eyes so fucking hard my optic nerves are straining to process the images*

  • Wow. I used to get paid on the day the _next_ pay period ended.    Since I started on the last day of a period, it was a full month before I got my first paycheck.

    Now, I know someone who used to work for a company where they not only sometimes neglected to pay their employees for a couple of weeks, but were *snarky* about it, lecturing their employees on how with proper money-managment, they wouldn’t be in this predicament.

  • Lori

     

    I know someone who used to work for a company where they not only
    sometimes neglected to pay their employees for a couple of weeks, but
    were *snarky* about it, lecturing their employees on how with proper
    money-managment, they wouldn’t be in this predicament.  

    I swear, it’s like some people want to be murdered by a disgruntled employee. I’ve never known of a business of any size that “forgot” to pay it’s employees. If your check doesn’t show up on the designated day it’s because they’re having an accounts receivables problem and don’t have the money to cover payroll. I should be surprised that people in that kind of trouble would try to distract from their poor management by lecturing their employees about money management, but I’ve had enough bad bosses that I’m not.

  • Dot-coms were famous for pulling this shit when they were blowing through the last of their venture capital. I knew people who would cash their paychecks at the banks they were drawn on so the company couldn’t stop payment on them later and SHOOP! the money back out of the unlucky employee’s bank account. When people were being paid like $105k a year back then at some dot-coms, well, being able to SHOOP! back $4300 or so times a few employees – well, tempting target for some unscrupulous dot-com flimflam artists.

  • Ursula L

    I posted this earlier, but somehow it wound up on the wrong thread.  Thank you to Invisible Neutrino for linking to it:
    It is Foxx, not Obama, who is being deceptive about the way that student debt can cripple new graduates.She artificially chose to focus on the small number of students with the highest amount of debt.  People with a tenth of the debt she chose to mention are genuinely struggling. But even typical students with typical debt are crippled by their debt if they can’t get a job in their field in the current economy.And to have any hope of long-term political and social power, you can’t just go to a typical school, for the cost of typical debt.  The halls of power are dominated by people who go to the most expensive and exclusive schools.  The only way for the poor and middle class to have a chance of having appropriate influence in the halls of power is for poor and middle class people to take on the extraordinary debt needed to go to the best and most exclusive schools when you aren’t born to extraordinarily rich and powerful parents.   Just having “typical” schools leaving poor and middle class students with debt that will chase them for decades, but without the power that comes from graduating from a high-prestige school only perpetuates the problem.To have any sort of equitable and just society, we need to have it so that someone born to parents who are poor, unambitious and disadvantaged can get the education that opens the doors to political power as easily as someone who is born to parents who are ultra-rich, ultra-powerful and ultra-influential.  You can go to a state law school, and make a reasonably comfortable living writing wills and chasing ambulances, perhaps ten or twenty years after you’ve graduated and paid off your debt, but with little hope of a comfortable retirement because you’ve been paying off student debt rather than investing for retirement income.  Both of which are tasks that are fundamentally necessary to the way our society works.  But you can’t go to a state school and reasonably hope to become president.  ***Foxx chose to name the tiny percentage with the very highest debt.  But she did so with the intention of implying that ordinary people protesting that they are hopelessly tied down by student debt are as unreasonable and lazy as those who are struggling with the highest debt. It is dishonest and unreasonable to ignore the point she was wanting to make by narrowly focusing on the artificially tiny subset of the population struggling with student debt that she chose to name.  ***The wealth and power of one’s parents should not affect the potential wealth and power of an individual and a democratic and egalitarian society. Even if you need to take on $1,000,000 of debt to get the education and connections to have genuine political power, that doesn’t make you greedy, lazy, or selfish.  It only means that the people who currently control power have rigged the system so that only people who are already rich and powerful have any hope of power in the future.  ***Set up a system where every public elementary and high school, public or private, is funded and staffed to a quality level so that every graduate has an equally good chance of outcome, no matter how rich or poor, educated or ignorant, their parents and the community where they are born and raised are.   Then set things up so that every high school graduate starts out on an equal economic field, with no possible economic or social advantage from their parents. Set things up so that every child has no reason to worry about the economic and social welfare of their parents, no fear that their parent will go unhoused, unclothed or unfed if the child is not earning money and helping support the family. The parents can’t pay for school or living expenses, the parents can’t help them make any contacts,  the parents can’t do anything to give any advantage over anyone who has the most poor and least powerful parents.And then lets see who is “lazy” and who is “hard-working.”   Then we’ll see what student debt is excessive. ***Foxx is not allowed to define the problems of people who are struggling with student debt. Particularly when doing so by artificially narrowing the problem to the people with the highest debt.  The problem is defined by the problems that people dealing with student debt actually face.  Problems of total debt.  And also problems growing from the problem that only people at the most expensive and exclusive schools have a chance at real power to shape the future, and that that power comes not from academic talent but from parental power.

  • Ursula L

    Your boss also seems to have forgotten that that shit is also fucking illegal. In British Columbia, for example, you MUST be paid within one week of the end of a pay period.

    That sounds lovely.  

    Where I work, there is a two-week pay period. We then have two weeks to turn our time sheets in.  (I work as a personal care assistant, helping a disabled woman in her home, and the time sheet needs to be dropped off at the office, where I never have to go for any reason except dropping off time sheets and occasional other paperwork.)   And we actually get paid two weeks after that.  

    So if you start working on the first day of a pay period, there is six weeks before you get your first check.  

  • AnonymousSam

    Honestly, it just sounds like the age old myth, “Poor people are only poor because they’re too lazy to get a job!”

    In the worst stages of my own stint with poverty (which I am on the verge of recapturing, now that my income is once again $0, due to my mother-in-law having a second stroke last Sunday — no emotional connection, but FUCK does it throw a monkey-wrench in our financial situation), I was once escorted out of a food market on the basis of impoverished appearance alone. Had only walked in the door and approached a cashier. Ask me how fucking easy it is to get a job when you’re in a hole. I fucking dare you.

  • Whengreg

    I just ran some numbers on what that comes out to per churchgoer:
    308,745,538 * 85% * 75% * 44% = 86,603,123
    (USA population
    times % not on SNAP already
    times approx % of 18+
    times % of churchgoers = relevant population)

    $169,000,000,000 / 86,603,123 = $1951/yr
    Which is likely wrong, but should be within reason.

    Sources:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States#Age_structure
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/rel_chu_att-religion-church-attendance
    http://frac.org/reports-and-resources/snapfood-stamp-monthly-participation-data/
    (note that I’m using church attendance, not religious affiliation.)

  • That’s still a sizable chunk of change, as that works out to something like $35ish a week. Helluva collection plate I tell ya.

  • Geoff

    Why not tax the churches? 

  • JustoneK

    Would that make them more business-like than some already are?  Especially legally?

  • The fact that churches are usually exempt from property tax exacerbates the inequities that lead to wealthy megachurches and smaller churches which have to rent space to hold meetings.

    At the very least, churches which have a volume greater than so many cubic meters ought to start paying at least some property tax.

  • Honestly, when you have so many churches that essentially act like political campaigns, for-profit corporations, or even like the private piggy banks of the guys in charge, why shouldn’t they lose some of their special privileges? I mean, damn, what is the actual difference between Rev. Robert Jeffress’s church and a super-PAC?

  • AnonymousSam

    Which might be why the FFRF has asked the IRS to audit a few churches this year, based on religious authority figures telling their congregation to vote a certain way. Unfortunately, the IRS is unlikely to pursue that avenue, even though it is blatantly in violation of their tax exemption status conditions (501(c)(3)). The IRS wouldn’t dare do anything that would lead the Republicans to strip away even more of their money and resources.

  • Now, let us assume that our unlucky college grad has gotten US federal minimum wage plus a bit, so call it $7.50 an hour.

    Now, that is the princely sum of

    Wait for it

    $15,600 per year

    That is $1300 a month.

    Gross pay.

    Before taxes.

    And that’s if he or she can get a full-time position.  If he or she ends up, say, at Walmart, he or she will end up working somewhere between 20 and 34 hours per week.  That brings that $15,600 figure down to, at most, $13,260.

  • Münchner Kindl

    “y’all, aunursa’s quoting factcheck . org – thread over”

    Would you mind explaining to the non-USians as to what’s wrong with factcheck.org? At first glance it doesn’t seem linked to conservatism.

  • Delurker

    Oh good, aunusura has ruined another comment thread.

  • Daughter

    Nothing’s wrong with factcheck.org–it’s a nonpartisan organization. I can only suspect that the snarky comment about aunursa was meant to express surprise that he was citing Factcheck. Here’s why: some conservatives will tell you that Factcheck.org is a liberal or socialist organization, for two reasons:

    1) Since they are nonpartisan, they are equally critical and discerning of politicans right and left. But to some on the right, anything that isn’t uncritically accepting of their worldview is automatically liberal and suspect.

    2) Factcheck.org is run out of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy. Walter Annenberg for whom the center is named, now deceased, was a Republican who served as a U.S. Ambassador under Richard Nixon. The foundation established in his memory not only supports Factcheck.org, but it once supported a Chicago nonprofit organization for which Barack Obama served on the board of directors. That very loose (really, non-existent–foundations fund many organizations, most of which are unrelated to one another) connection to Obama means that some rightwingers consider Factcheck an Obama shill.

  • Lori

     

    Since they are nonpartisan, they are equally critical and discerning of politicans right and left.  

    This is the stated goal, but not exactly the reality. I don’t remember who it was, but during a dust up a few years ago a blogger summed up my feelings about factcheck—they’re not intentionally biased, but they can be played and the Right works a lot harder at playing them than the Left does.

  • tax payer

    I can understand your concern about the rising interest rate on education loans.  I can also understand the millions of Americans who are facing an increase in taxes and a decrease in aid who are tired of carring someone elses debt load while they go to bed hungry nights.   I see a lot of negitivity in these messages but no solutions.  Why?  I guess it is easier to complain then figure out a solution.   

  • EllieMurasaki

    You want a solution? Here’s a solution: Adjust the 1950s tax brackets for inflation. We’re talking about twenty-five tax brackets, each twenty thousand dollars wide, each bracket taxed about three percentage points higher than the bracket below. That would do wonders for our revenue.

  • Lori

    I can also understand the millions of Americans who are facing an
    increase in taxes and a decrease in aid who are tired of carring someone
    elses debt load while they go to bed hungry nights.

    -You’re acting like the people facing increased taxes & hunger and the people with excessive student loan debt are two separate groups of people, when in fact there is considerable overlap.

    -The debt load being carried by people who are facing increased taxes is not all, or even mostly, caused by student loan debt.

    I see a lot of negitivity in these messages but no solutions.  Why?  I
    guess it is easier to complain then figure out a solution.  

    I see a drive-by post from someone who hasn’t bothered to read anything else on this blog. We’ve discussed the solution to this many times. It involves a number of things, starting with allowing the Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire. As Ellie pointed out, going back to a 1950’s style tax system with far more brackets and a higher top marginal rate would be even better.

  • Monala

     Was that Factcheck, or Politfact? I’ve heard what you wrote about the latter, not the former.

  • P J Evans

    That sounds way too much like poor management. It shouldn’t take that long.

    I have a two week pay period, and we get paid the other week – holidays at the end of the week are a problem, because it means payroll has to be run early, so timesheets have to be in early – and our admin wants it a day early anyway (because she’s slow). We can e-mail our sheets – they’re in Excel anyway, with everything all set up to do the arithmetic and fill the dates in based on the first Monday of the period.

  • P J Evans

     Churches that have two or more services on Saturday and four or more on Sunday, have parking for more than 500 cars at a time (with a multistory parking structure, and still overflow into the shopping center across the street), and have to have the city doing traffic control so people can get in and out, are really businesses and needs to be taxed as such.

  • Most of the taxes people pay go to things like military spending, and what one might term “middle-class and working poor entitlements” – things like SNAP, WIC,  as well as direct cash assistance in the form of TANF.

    Currently, student loan debt isn’t a huge chunk of that, even with a certain percentage of delinquent loans. That could change if a large number of university students can’t get jobs; the federal government would end up having to eat the cost of writing  them off the books.

  • Dennis Williams

    Stop allowing “SNAP” to become a way of life.
    The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever.

    Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.”

    Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You do realize how offensive and hurtful it is to compare people to animals, how much harm will be done if we take away people’s food budgets, and that animals don’t need to pay for food in order to eat, right?

  • How fortunate that, despite the hateful rhetoric from the predator class, human beings are not wild animals.