I do not know how many bishops on the USCCB committee that is criticizing Paul Ryan for proposing cuts in the programs serving the poor in the United States shop for their own food at the supermarket, but I am one that does his own shopping.  I have seen others in the checkout line who have presented food stamps for purchases that seemed to me to be an abuse of the system.  I am not opposed to the food stamp program, but I am opposed to fraud and waste and I doubt that any sane person can effectively defend a system that has 47,000,000 person enrolled on it receiving food stamps.

I do not know how may of those 47,000,000 persons are legitimately enrolled in the program, but I suspect that there is need for Congress to address the problem of fraud and waste and Paul Ryan’s budget proposal seems to be like a good way to start the reform of the system.

In addition to the food stamp program, the article below the one on the USCCB reveals that there is a dramatic increase in applications for disability payments from the Federal Government.  It looks like fraud and waste is not confined to the food stamp program.

–  Abyssum


Catholic bishops criticize Ryan budget cuts to food stamps

By Jonathan Easley – 04/17/12 05:26 PM ET

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is criticizing the House Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan for cutting food stamps and other assistance programs for the poor.

In a letter sent to the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, the bishops say the budget fails to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”

A second letter sent Tuesday to the Ways and Means Committee criticizes a provision that makes it more difficult for illegal immigrants to claim child tax credits. The bishops called the credit “one of the most effective antipoverty programs in our nation.”

The letters follow Ryan’s (R-Wis.) comments last week that his Catholic faith shaped the budget he authored. He also argued the budget is consistent with Catholic teachings.

In response to the bishops’ criticism, Ryan argued that by accelerating the debt crisis, President Obama’s policies will be more damaging to the poor.

“The president’s policies, by the administration’s own admission, accelerate a debt crisis, hurting the poor the first and the worst,” Ryan said in a statement to The Hill. He said his own budget “lifts this crushing burden of debt, repairs our broken safety net and tackles our generation’s defining challenge of ensuring opportunity for generations to come.”

Ryan’s budget aims to reduce the federal deficit almost entirely through spending cuts; it would cut about $5 trillion more than the president’s 2013 budget proposal. Democrats are pushing for tax increases to reduce the deficit in addition to spending cuts. Ryan’s plan also includes a proposal to revamp Medicare that would give future seniors the choice of opting out of the program in favor of private insurance.

Ryan made the moral case for his budget in an interview last week with the Christian Broadcasting Network. He said government shouldn’t be responsible for lifting its citizens out of poverty — rather, that it’s the obligation of the citizens themselves to be society’s caretakers.

“A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,” Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in the interview. “So to me, using my Catholic faith, we call it the social magisterium, which is how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person?

“Those principles are very, very important,” Ryan said. “And the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life, help people get out of poverty, out into a life of independence.”

Ryan’s comments drew criticism from some progressive Catholic groups last week, but the letters made public this week represent the first time the bishops have weighed in on Ryan’s budget.

In the letter to the Agriculture Committee, the bishops urged lawmakers to reject “unacceptable cuts to hunger and nutrition” programs for “moral and human reasons.” They said spending cuts should instead be made to subsidy programs that “disproportionately go to large growers and agribusiness.”

Lawmakers should “protect essential programs that serve poor and hungry people over subsidies that assist large and relatively well-off agricultural enterprises,” said the letter, signed by Bishop Stephen E. Blaire.

“Cuts to nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment. These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”

On Tuesday, the USCCB released text of earlier letters sent to lawmakers.

In joint letters to the House and Senate sent on March 3, the bishops addressed the “moral and human dimensions of the federal budget,” and their fear that pressure to reduce the deficit would wipe out Pell Grants, workforce training and development, nutrition assistance, low-income tax credits and safe and affordable housing for the less fortunate.

A letter dated April 4 went to the House Appropriations Committee and focused solely on potential cuts to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs that benefit the poor, elderly, veterans and those with disabilities.

At a private fundraising event on Sunday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told supporters that if elected, he might look to eliminate HUD, which his father, George Romney, once led.

There is some speculation that Ryan could be the vice presidential candidate on the Romney ticket.

This is not the first time this election cycle that the Catholic Church has pushed back against policies it believes clash with its teachings.

It sharply criticized the Obama administration this year for requiring employer-purchased insurance plans to provide birth control to employees without a co-pay.

The Catholic Church, as well as Republicans and some Democrats, blasted the move as a violation of religious liberty, and the administration responded with what it said was an “accommodation” allowing exceptions from the mandate for Catholic hospitals and other religiously affiliated groups.

The bishops argue that the accommodation doesn’t go far enough and would still violate religious liberty by, among other things, forcing employers to make available birth control, including the morning-after pill, to their employees.

This story was posted at 1:33 p.m. and updated at 5:26 p.m.


5.4 Million Join Disability Rolls Under Obama


A record 5.4 million workers and their dependents have signed up to collect federal disability checks since President Obama took office, according to the latest official government data, as discouraged workers increasingly give up looking for jobs and take advantage of the federal program.

This is straining already-stretched government finances while posing a long-term economic threat by creating an ever-growing pool of permanently dependent working-age Americans.

Since the recession ended in June 2009, the number of new enrollees to Social Security’s disability insurance program is twice the job growth figure. (See nearby chart.) In just the first four months of this year, 539,000 joined the disability rolls and more than 725,000 put in applications.

As a result, by April there were a total of 10.8 million people on disability, according to Social Security Administration data released this week. Even after accounting for all those who’ve left the program — about 700,000 drop out each year, mainly because they hit retirement age or died — that’s up 53% from a decade ago.

To be sure, disability rolls have grown steadily as a share of the workforce since the 1990s (see nearby chart).

The main causes of this broader trend, according to a study by economists David Autor and Mark Duggan, are the loosening of eligibility rules by Congress in 1984, the rise in disability benefits relative to wages, and the fact that more women have entered the workforce, making them eligible for disability.

Their research found that the aging of the population has contributed only modestly to the program’s growth.

But the big factor in the recent surge is the slow pace of the economic recovery after the severe recession. That has kept the unemployment rate above 8% and created an enormous pool of long-term unemployed and discouraged workers. More than 5 million people have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, nearly twice the previous high set in 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We see a lot of people applying for disability once their unemployment insurance expires,” said Matthew Rutledge, a research economist at Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research.

The number of applications last year was up 24% compared with 2008, Social Security Administration data show.

As the Congressional Budget Office explained : “When opportunities for employment are plentiful, some people who could quality for (disability insurance) benefits find working more attractive … when employment opportunities are scarce, some of these people participate in the DI program instead.”

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. Curt Stoller says:

    His Holiness Pope Benedict wrote two Encyclicals where he spoke at length on economic issues. In one on the subject of Charity he spoke of solidarity. In the other, on the subject of Hope, he spoke of subsidiarity and the dangers of totalitarianism. Both messages must be read together.

    The greatness of the Roman Catholic Church is that it looks at time from the point of view of eternity. This is what Karl Marx was not able to do. It was his great blind spot and it is also the blind spot of his hard and soft followers. His utopian vision of “social justice” was myopically futuristic. The future is all that matters. Everything can and should be sacrificed for the future. Even murder must be employed for the sake of the future. Every one of the Ten Commandments is expendable for the sake of the future so-called utopia. Present day men and women must be killed for the sake of the “new Marxist man.” Social justice is only for those who live in the future. Those of the present and the past be damned. This pretty well sums up classical Marxism. One of the things “to be damned” is subsidiarism.

    To his credit, social critic Theodore Adorno, the spiritual child of Freud, Marx, Bloch, Benjamin, Horkheimer and Marcuse, remarked in a moment of weakness that true and complete social justice could not be obtained without the resurrection of the dead. But such an admission is rare among Marxists and socialists of all stripes.

    What we have in America today is a march towards totalitarianism and the destruction of subsidiarism. Love for the poor does not require embracing falsehood. Love for the poor requires the opposite. What are the falsehoods? Here is the absolutely biggest one: “The rich are rich because the poor are poor.” From that simple belief follows all the harm of totalitarianism. The truth is this: “A rising tide raises all boats.” When the tide rises, all the boats rise: the big yachts, the Battleships, the like boats, the rubber rafts, the little plank on which the man clings for dear life to avoid drowning. In a good economy, everyone benefits. Totalitarianism destroys economics: a falling tide grounds all the boats.”

    Roman Catholic social teaching has never taught just the principle of solidarity. It has always married this principle to the principle of subsidiarity. While Marxist totalitarians believed in sacrificing past and present for future generations, our modern totalitarians want to sacrifice future generations for the present one. It is not longer sufficient simply to destroy an economy supposedly in the name of the poor. Now one must destroy the lives of our children and grandchildren for this. Now one must impoverish those who do not yet even exist yet through borrowing gone mad.

    How similar this is to abortion. In abortion one sacrifices future children to the Moloch of the selfish present day people. In soft socialism, one sacrifices future children to the Moloch of universal hedonism paid for by insane borrowing. The message in both seems to be “hell and be damned the children.” Another victory for the selfishest generation.

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