Catholic Charities urges Congress to protect programs that serve the poor

.- Catholic Charities USA has urged Congress to protect programs that assist the poorest and most vulnerable members of society from deep spending cuts in the 2006 budget. "At a time when the United States is spending more on defense and homeland security, a question arises about who will pay for it. It should not be our nation's poorest citizens," wrote Fr. Larry Snyder in a letter to all members of Congress.

The Administration's recent budget proposal places the full burden of deficit reduction on domestic programs, requiring cuts of $200 billion over the next five years, including funding for education, veterans' health care, rental assistance, utility assistance, and childcare.

At the same time, it sharply increases expenditures for tax reductions and defense.

According to Catholic Charities USA, such an unbalanced strategy would hurt millions of poor and vulnerable persons who, without federal assistance, will be homeless, hungry and without access to health care.

“Domestic discretionary spending constitutes only 16 percent of the federal budget,” said Fr. Snyder. “Even deep cuts in these programs would offer little help with the federal deficit.”

Catholic Charities USA also voiced its strong opposition to proposed cuts in Medicaid. “Medicaid funding cuts could add millions more people to the ranks of the uninsured and would harm our nation's health care safety net," wrote Fr. Snyder.

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