A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘NETWORK’

The Budget: A moral crisis not a fiscal one

Holy Week seems an apt time to stop and take a simple action to impact the national budget for 2012. Below is a good summary of what passed the House from Huffington Post and an action from NETWORK.

Many blessings on this week and on Easter as we move as a Christian community through our shared collective stories toward celebration and rebirth.

Huffington Post

Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan  proposed, and last week the Republican House approved, a budget bill that will transfer tens of trillions  of dollars from ordinary working people to the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry and generic rich people from any industry. This money will come in the form of higher payments by seniors in their old age for health insurance and another round of tax breaks for the country’s richest people.

The Medicare story is the bigger transfer here. Representative Ryan wants to replace the current Medicare system with a voucher system. The size of the voucher in Ryan’s plan is held even with the overall rate of inflation. This means that it will not rise at anywhere near the rate of projected health care cost growth. As a result, a greater portion of the cost of health care will be shifted from the government to retirees.

However, this is the less important part of the story. The main reason that retiree health care costs will increase is that the private sector is less efficient at delivering care than the existing Medicare program. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that, under the Ryan plan, the increase in the cost of buying Medicare equivalent policies would be more than $30 trillion over Medicare’s planning horizon.

This additional waste comes to almost $100,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country. It is approximately equal to six times the size of the projected Social Security shortfall. This waste is a direct transfer from retirees to the insurance industry and the health care industry.

This is not the only way that Representative Ryan and the Republicans dip into the pockets of ordinary workers for the benefit of the obscenely rich. He also wants to give an additional $2.9 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthy over the next decade. These tax breaks would be paid for with cuts to Medicaid, Food Stamps and other programs that middle-income and poor people depend upon.

The tax breaks would be real money for the people who get them. For example, Representative Ryan’s tax breaks could give Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, another $3 million a year based on his $20 million annual paycheck. That’s the equivalent of more than 2,600 monthly Social Security checks.

Representative Ryan and the Republicans in Congress are likely to justify their budget by saying that they believe that their health care plan will hold down costs and their tax cuts will spur economic growth. While we can never know what politicians believe, we do know that these are not plausible stories.

We have already tested expanding the role of private insurers in the Medicare system. We did this in the 90s when the Gingrich Congress pushed through their Medicare Plus Choice plan. We did it again more recently with the Medicare Advantage program that was promoted by President Bush. These plans did not lower costs; they raised them. That is the basis for the non-partisan CBO’s projections that the Ryan plan will raise costs.

Similarly, Representative Ryan and the Republicans claim that tax cuts for the wealthy will spur growth. We have also twice tested this one. The first time was when President Reagan gave us big tax breaks beginning in 1981. The 80s were the worst decade of growth since the Great Depression, prior to the 00s, when President Bush tested his tax cuts for the wealthy. Certainly the economy’s bad performance during these decades cannot be blamed solely on the tax breaks for the wealthy, but it is a bit hard to maintain tax cuts to the wealthy gave a big boost to growth in these years.

While Representative Ryan and the Republicans may actually believe that giving private insurers more control over health care lowers costs and that cutting taxes for the rich increases growth, who cares? These people may believe that the moon is made of green cheese, but this does not make the green cheese theory true or even plausible.

We have extensively tested both parts of the Ryan transfer program to the wealthy, and they don’t work as he claims. They redistribute money to the rich: end of story. Thanks to Representative Ryan we have the Republican Party on record as supporting these massive transfers to the wealthy. We just have to hope that the Democratic Party takes a different position.

NETWORK: Budget issues return after recess

The budget battles continue, as President Obama denounced the House budget resolution for FY2012, which is also known as the “Ryan Budget” after Rep. Paul Ryan, the chair of the House Budget Committee. This budget cuts Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that support low and moderate income families, while handing out more tax breaks to millionaires and corporations. NETWORK agrees with President Obama, that this is not the vision Americans have for our country.
It is very important that all members of Congress hear from constituents who believe that our budget decisions should prioritize people who are struggling, and ask those who are already wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes.
Please try to contact your members of Congress during this Congressional recess. Call their office and find out when and where you can meet them, or talk to their staff people. You can find contact information for local offices through our web site at:
See “How to Talk about the Budget” at www.networklobby.org/blog/2011-4-18/blog-about-federal-budget for suggestions on talking about the budget with your friends, family, and members of Congress. And let us know how the conversations went!
More on NETWORK’s response to the FY2012 budget resolution is here:

“Give me your tired, your poor….” the DREAM act

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  Quote at base of Statue of Liberty

Dear All – I would like to share an action from NETWORK this week in regard to the DREAM Act. You will be able to read more below, but essentially the DREAM Act will remove the many obstacles that immigrant youth may face once they leave high school and try to pursue further education or training.

The bill helps to ensure that we as a country do not further the current trend of criminalizing immigrants, especially the children of immigrants who may have had no choice in how they entered the country.

Read the great information below and take a quick action to support the immigrant youth in our communities. Much Peace Liz

 An American DREAM for immigrant children
 
On March 26, 2009, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN)  and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) reintroduced the DREAM Act (S. 729, H.R. 1751).
 
The DREAM Act (“Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors” Act in the Senate, and “The American Dream” Act in the House) would allow undocumented children who entered the United States when 16 years or younger and who have lived in the United States for five years to apply for conditional permanent residency if they maintain good moral character and earn a high school diploma.  After 6 years of conditional permanent residency, they could apply for lawful permanent residency (LPR).  By allowing students to apply for conditional permanent residency, it would also be giving them a path to apply for higher education, lawful employment, or service to the United States.
 
Please urge your representative and senators to co-sponsor the DREAM Act so that high school graduates brought to the United States as children can realize their potential through higher education and service to the United States, thus benefiting all Americans. (Or thank them if they are already a co-sponsor.)
 
You can e-mail your representative at http://capwiz.com/networklobby/issues/alert/?alertid=13182316&type=CO
And your senators at http://capwiz.com/networklobby/issues/alert/?alertid=13182421&type=CO
 
An appropriate sample message will come up when you enter your zip code, either thanking your member of Congress or urging them to become co-sponsors. This is one of the advantages of using the system on our website to e-mail your members of Congress – we can customize the message based on their co-sponsorship status.

Immigration and Postville, Iowa

 Hi all, it’s today’s guest blogger, Sister Sarah Hennessey, FSPA

I just returned from a gathering called “Engaging the Impasse of Immigration” sponsored by NETWORK. It was so fabulous that I want to share some of the vision and excitement! There were 25 women religious (sisters and nuns) there from all over the country and a lot from the Dubuque, Iowa, area, including the sister who was the pastoral administrator at Postville. We told stories. We cried. We broke our hearts open and looked at the issue of immigration from many sides. We concluded that stories are important to break through the impasse and find some middle ground. We need fresh language and stories and common ground to live prophetically and to organize for legalized change.

Some action ideas discussed that NETWORK will implement in its next newsletter and in its work with staffers on the hill. Other ideas included a pilot project of engaging the impasse through stories that could be done in northeast Iowa. Also, there is a traveling exhibit on the history of women religious that is starting this summer and the idea was that the local pieces could have a focus on immigration. The anniversary of Postville is May 12, 2009. There will be an event in Postville and we will look at ways to be in solidarity with them. Look for more details about this coming up. With all of our ideas everyone at the gathering committed herself to some action.

What ideas do you have?

Because we found stories to be so powerful, I want to share some that the NETWORK intern, Katrine Herrick, gathered. One is a moving video of a young boy; the next comes from the point of view of the Minutemen; and last is a story of someone picked up in the raid in Postville.

I want to share these stories with you so you can travel into the impasse with me.

Peace in Christ, Sister Sarah

1. Watch “Juan: An Immigrant’s Story

2. While this slideshow is on the Minutemen Web site, I believe that it provides an interesting perspective that leads to a better understanding of why some hold their beliefs. I hope you will let the slideshow play and hold these people and their families and communities in your heart.

3.This is the story of a worker who returned to Guatemala, where most of the detained were from. Vincente Sanail Lopez has warned everyone in his hometown about the consequences they could face for illegally working in the United States. “I’ve told people what happened to me, and they think I’m making it up,” he said in Spanish. He told his neighbors how in May he was arrested with nearly 300 other Guatemalans at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. He told them how he was led away in chains and how he spent five months in prison with drug traffickers and thieves. He told them how he was dumped off at the Guatemala City airport, with nothing but his prison uniform and a warning that if he ever returned to the United States, he could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. For the rest of the article and more stories of the returned, visit the DesMoines Register.

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