Writing on behalf of the U.S. bishops, Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York urged Congress to make poor families and vulnerable workers central priorities in economic recovery legislation.
“Low-income families and individuals are experiencing the greatest hardship and have the least capacity to cope in this time of economic crisis,” said Bishop Murphy, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Writing in a Jan. 28 letter, he also argued these people are most likely to use new resources on essentials and would thus advance the economy.
Bishop Murphy offered the bishops’ collective support on recovery legislation which would increase funding for nutrition assistance through food stamps and other programs, protect low-income families from losing Medicaid and social service assistance, and extend unemployment insurance benefits.
According to Bishop Murphy’s letter, the bishops “strongly support” efforts to support and expand the refundable child tax credit and the Earned Income Tax credit.
The bishop also advocated the rejection of measures concerning contraception and immigration.
He argued that efforts to increase family planning funding neglect women’s “real needs” and “serve no legitimate purpose.” Pursuing a family planning agenda, he warned, could even reduce basic health coverage if regulations are introduced that cancel support for health benefit programs which do not include contraceptive coverage.
He further cautioned that some regulations would effectively make family planning clinics, many of which are abortion providers, a “necessary entry point” into the health care system. This would ignore women’s genuine needs “as well as their moral concerns.”
Bishop Murphy said the bishops “strongly oppose” a measure requiring that every stimulus package funding recipient use employee identity verification system designed to verify that employees are U.S. citizens or legal residents. He argued that the system’s database has an “unacceptably high” error rate and requiring the system would increase the costs of small businesses, schools and hospitals, state and local governments and non-profit organizations required to enroll in the system.
“We urge Congress to act quickly and wisely with a constant attention to addressing the human impact and moral dimensions of this recession,” Bishop Murphy’s letter concluded. “I pray that working together you can find the courage, wisdom, and skill to build a prosperous economy with greater justice for all.”