Reform Jewish Movement Criticizes House of Representatives' Budget that Does Not Meet Needs of Average Americans
Contact: Alexis Rice or Sheryl Shapiro
Pelavin: With more than eight million Americans out of
work since January, we must improve our schools, provide health care to our
children, and shrink the gap between those looking for affordable housing and
the number of affordable units available-yet the House-passed budget will hamper
efforts in all these areas.
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2004 - In response to the U.S. House of Representatives'
narrow passage of its Fiscal Year 2005 budget resolution conference report, Mark
J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism,
issued the following statement:
Last week, House Members approved a budget conference report that would
saddle future generations with enormous deficits and cut funding for the very
programs most needed by low-income Americans. We urge Senators to reject these
detrimental spending guidelines.
The conference report's one-year budget would cut funding for vital domestic
programs depended on by American families, including public housing, child care,
and nutritional assistance for women, infants and children, while paving the way
for $55.2 billion in tax cuts this year, and massive tax cuts in future years.
The budget projects reductions in desperately needed funding for elementary and
secondary education programs and shortchanges the nation's most successful
housing assistance program, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, by
over $1.3 billion, which could lead to the eviction of more than 200,000
families that rely on the vouchers to meet their housing needs. With more than
eight million Americans out of work since January, we must improve our schools,
provide health care to our children, and shrink the gap between those looking
for affordable housing and the number of affordable units available-yet the
House-passed budget will hamper efforts in all these areas.
We have often observed that the federal budget is the great moral document of
our nation, establishing our priorities for the years to come. Yet instead of
requiring all tax cuts to be paid for over the next five years, the conference
report limits the "pay-as-you-go" rules to a single year and provides an
exemption for $27.5 billion in protected tax cuts. This single year provision
would facilitate massive tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in years to
come, draining much needed revenue that could strengthen ailing programs for
hungry children, uninsured veterans, and minimum wage workers. The budget
conference report's three centerpiece tax cuts would also inequitably bestow
benefits on the wealthiest individuals; the top fifth of households would
receive an average tax cut of $1,380 in 2005 as compared to an average tax cut
of $155 for those in the middle fifth of the income spectrum. If these tax cuts
are eventually offset through domestic program cuts, most low- and middle-income
families would lose significantly more from program reductions than they would
gain from these minor tax breaks.
Jewish tradition affirms our obligation to maintain a safety net for the less
fortunate. In Deuteronomy, the Torah commands that we "open our hands to the
poor and the needy among us." It is this mandate which compels us to oppose the
fiscally irresponsible budget passed by the House and call on the Senate to
support only a budget that enables the government to invest in critical programs
that benefit Americans of all income levels. Without such leadership, we condemn
our children and our children's children to a future in which their government
struggles to meet the most basic needs of its citizens.
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(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800
Reform rabbis .