Life during Bushtime, Pt. I
Davenport - People representing faith and social action organizations gathered together Wednesday to protest federal budget cuts that will affect low-income families.The Washington Post covers national efforts by religious groups and organizations to protest the draconian Republican cuts, highlighting the faux-Christian leaders whose only goal is consolodating wealth and political power:
The group prayed together at the building that houses the Social Security office in downtown Davenport. They presented petitions with 438 signatures protesting the cuts to representatives from U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley of Iowa and U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle’s offices. The group also plans to present copies to U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, of Illinois.
"We’re concerned about the budget cuts and that’s why we’re having the prayer vigil. We wanted to bring awareness to the community about how horrible these budget cuts are," said organizer Ollie Finn of Bettendorf.
The majority in Congress [Note to the Times: They're called REPUBLICANS] are proposing $60 billion in tax cuts which includes extending the capital gains and dividend tax cuts through 2010 according to information from Harkin’s office. He opposes the cuts. Senate Republicans are also looking at taking $35 billion out of entitlement programs which help working Americans, he said.
The [Republican dominated] U.S. House of Representatives has called for $50 billion in cuts to food assistance, support for children in foster care, Medicaid and enforcement of child support payments
The Rev. Roger Butts, pastor of the Unitarian Church of Davenport, asked people to determine whether the Fiscal Year 2006 budget serves the common good. "I’ve come simply to pray with you and to stand with you for those whose voices are easy to ignore," he said.
"We are working to at least restore the additional $15 billion in cuts. We feel this will have a strong effect on the poor," said Rick Schloemer of Rapids City, Ill.
The Wednesday vigil coincided with members of the U.S. Senate showing their support for a motion from Harkin. He asked members of the joint House-Senate conference committee to reject the House’s proposal for food assistance cuts.
The budget cuts "will particularly affect the poor we serve," agreed Sr. Michelle Schiffgens of Humility of Mary. “We have many single moms with kids living in those apartments and they are greatly concerned about what could happen to them."
When hundreds of religious activists try to get arrested today to protest cutting programs for the poor, prominent conservatives such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell will not be among them.And in another miserably stark illustration of Republican values, another piece details Sen. Bill Frist's priorties:
That is a great relief to Republican leaders, who have dismissed the burgeoning protests as the work of liberals. But it raises the question: Why in recent years have conservative Christians asserted their influence on efforts to relieve Third World debt, AIDS in Africa, strife in Sudan and international sex trafficking -- but remained on the sidelines while liberal Christians protest domestic spending cuts?
Conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family say it is a matter of priorities, and their priorities are abortion, same-sex marriage and seating judges who will back their position against those practices.
Jim Wallis, editor of the liberal Christian journal Sojourners and an organizer of today's protest, was not buying it. Such conservative religious leaders "have agreed to support cutting food stamps for poor people if Republicans support them on judicial nominees," he said. "They are trading the lives of poor people for their agenda. They're being, and this is the worst insult, unbiblical."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said Congress may postpone until next year a measure to prevent 15 million households from paying $30 billion under the alternative minimum tax, indicating that extending tax cuts on capital gains and dividends was a higher priority.
"I feel strongly that capital gains and dividends should be in the bill when it comes back to the Senate floor," Frist told reporters. Of the minimum tax, he said that "in all likelihood, we'll not be able to finalize that until we get back" in 2006.