A group of Catholic nuns traveled Iowa Thursday preaching fiscal discipline that will require those blessed with abundance to shoulder more responsibility for society’s poor and vulnerable.
“Any politicians who wants to tell you right now that they won’t raise taxes – quite frankly, they’re nuts,” said Sister Simone Campbell, a member of the Sisters of Social Service religious order and executive director of the national Catholic Network social justice lobby who led a “Nuns on the Bus” tour of Iowa. “There is no way to cut our way out of this deficit.”
Campbell told a Statehouse news conference at the start of a three-city tour that Bush-era tax cuts and foreign wars waged on the U.S. credit card contributed to the current debt and deficit problems and it will require “reasonable revenue for responsible programs” to make sure there is a safety net for the poor, the elderly and people living “at the margin.”
While not endorsing any candidates, Campbell said GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney thrust her organization into a “quasi-partisan” role by selecting as his running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., a budget hawk who has proposed deep spending cuts – especially in food stamps — to reduce the national debt and balance the federal budget.
She said Ryan’s budget cuts do not recognize that many faith-based and nonprofit organizations use federal foundation aid as leverage to build a community of volunteers, private and corporate donations to provide services to the needy. If food stamp aid is cut, for instance, she said, each religious organization or house of worship would be required to raise $50,000 annually for the next decade to feed hungry Americans.
“It’s unrealistic,” she said.
Campbell said working families can’t make ends meet working jobs that pay $7.25 an hour minimum wage – an economic premise that she said creates dependency for low-income families, businesses that rely on low wages to make profits, and consumers who expect low costs for commodities and services.
She also spoke against the “unpatriotic lie” that Americans are individualistic, which flies in the face of the Constitutions first three words – “We, the people” – and the notion that democracy is about people coming together to solve the tough problems they face collectively.
“This idea that we can just individually go it alone quite frankly only works for those that have enough money to insulate themselves from any adverse shock,” she said.
Campbell advocated a 55-page “faithful” budget alternative that requires some people to pay higher taxes, all government programs to be more responsible and accountable with their public resources, and full implementation of the Affordable Care Act to guarantee that no American dies because they cannot afford insurance or proper medical treatment.
“This is not a pro-life stance that we as a nation will allow people to die without health care,” she said.
Campbell urged Iowans to “vote their values” on Nov. 6, but she noted her group’s agenda will stay the same on Nov. 7 no matter which candidates win on Election Day.
“We the people of the United States can form a more perfect union,” she said. “The richest nation on earth is not bankrupt. What we’ve bankrupt in is political will.”