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Reform Jewish Leader Urges House of Representatives to Reject Budget Cuts that Target the Poor
In advance of the House of Representatives’ final vote on the budget reconciliation package, including $40 billion in cuts to programs benefiting lower-income Americans, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued a letter to Congress urging the rejection of S. 1932, noting “By cutting Medicaid, student loans, child care, child support enforcement and disability assistance, S. 1932 targets society’s most vulnerable. And it is those members of society to whom we have the greatest obligation.”

Saperstein: By cutting Medicaid, student loans, child care, child support enforcement and disability assistance, S. 1932 targets society’s most vulnerable. And it is those members of society to whom we have the greatest obligation.”

Contact: Alexis Rice or David Schlitt 202.387.2800

Washington, January 26, 2006- In advance of the House of Representatives’ final vote on the budget reconciliation package, including $40 billion in cuts to programs benefiting lower-income Americans, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued a letter to Congress urging the rejection of S. 1932. The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Members of Congress,

As the February 1st vote on the Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act (S. 1932) nears, the Union for Reform Judaism urges you to vote against this troubling bill. Throughout the Bible, we are commanded not to wrong the stranger, the widow, and the orphan—yet, S. 1932 does just that. By cutting Medicaid, student loans, child care, child support enforcement and disability assistance, S. 1932 targets society’s most vulnerable. And it is those members of society to whom we have the greatest obligation.

The budget is a moral document: it ought to reflect the values and principles of a compassionate society. This budget reconciliation bill does not meet that standard. During a time of increasing food stamp rolls and rising need for Medicaid; during a time when our country struggles to resettle the largest population of displaced persons since the Civil War; during a time of war and ostensibly shared sacrifice, it is shameful that Congress has moved to reduce the deficit on the backs of the poor while planning still more tax cuts for the affluent.

Among the most odious provisions of the nearly $40 billion in cuts that make up S. 1932 are the following: There will be increased cost-sharing requirements and benefit changes in Medicaid that will leave millions of vulnerable recipients, including 28 million low-income children, with less access to vital health care services and prescription drugs. College students receiving student loans will be paying more for school: budget reconciliation cuts a net amount of $12.7 billion from federal student loan programs, which would be the largest cut to student aid in the history of the program. As much as $8.4 billion in child support will likely go uncollected over the next ten years, as a result of $1.5 billion in cuts to child support enforcement over five years. And under budget reconciliation, two-parent families receiving TANF would have new mandatory 35-hour-a-week work requirements, even though the bill only provides 1/12th of the funding necessary to make sure these families would have adequate childcare.

We urge you and your colleagues to listen with compassion to the voices of America. We urge you to listen to those left behind by recent natural disasters, as well as the unnatural disaster of poverty. We urge you to listen to the voiceless; to take seriously the Biblical imperative to “Speak out for those who cannot speak … for the rights of the destitute.” (Proverbs 31:8) We urge you to hear the voices of the faithful throughout the nation, people who believe that morality and social justice have roles to play in budgetary decisions. And we urge you to listen to your constituents, who believe overwhelmingly that poverty is one of our nation’s most urgent problems and that it deserves to be treated as such.

This morally flawed budget reconciliation bill places an onerous and undue burden upon lower-income Americans. This is not what Americans are asking for, and it does not represent the values of our religious traditions. Please vote against S. 1932, the Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act.


Sincerely,

Rabbi David Saperstein
Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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