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Reform Jewish Movement Disappointed With House Passage of Budget Reconciliation Harming Low-Income Americans
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism responded to today’s narrow passage in the House of a budget reconciliation package, noting, "Poverty is a problem that can not be solved by lofty rhetoric alone, least of all by cutting desperately needed social programs to pay for tax cuts for the affluent."

Saperstein: By cutting programs that benefit low-income Americans—programs like Medicaid, student loans, child support enforcement, and disability assistance—Congress and the President fail to deliver on a message of compassion. Instead, they have chosen to steer the country toward a culture of greater inequality.

Contact: Alexis Rice or David Morrill Schlitt 202.387.2800

Washington, February 1, 2006 - In response to today’s passage of a budget reconciliation bill that calls for nearly $40 billion in cuts to social services, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Today’s House passage of the Deficit Reduction Reconciliation Act is deeply troubling. During the State of the Union address last night, President Bush declared that “In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country,” and he vowed to “work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice; equal in hope and rich in opportunity.” By cutting programs that benefit low-income Americans—programs like Medicaid, student loans, child support enforcement, and disability assistance—Congress and the President fail to deliver on a message of compassion. Instead, they have chosen to steer the country toward a culture of greater inequality.

Together with our partners in the faith community, we must again remind Congress that the budget is a moral document; it ought to reflect the values of a compassionate society. The House has had over a month to consider the damage that will be done to Americans most in need by the latest version of this bill, initially passed with haste in December. We must therefore conclude that today’s vote evidences a Congressional majority that will not address the needs of the American people, and that does not implement the exhortations of the Prophets, who commanded us not to wrong the stranger, the poor, the orphan and the widow. As a result of budget reconciliation’s nearly $40 billion in cuts, lower-income Americans will be victim to increased cost-sharing requirements and benefit changes in Medicaid that will leave millions of recipients with less access to vital health care services and prescription drugs. College students receiving student loans will be now be paying more for school, and 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. And under budget reconciliation, two-parent families receiving TANF will have new mandatory 35-hour-a-week work requirements without adequate childcare funding to match.

We urge Congress and the President to take seriously the scandal of American poverty. The number of Americans living below the poverty line has grown over each of the last five years, and the population of those in need has been swelled by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Poverty is a problem that can not be solved by lofty rhetoric alone, least of all by cutting desperately needed social programs to pay for tax cuts for the affluent.

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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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