Monday, March 14, 2011

Defend the Dream: Rally Against Austerity on Tuesday 3/15

Rallies and political actions are scheduled in all 50 states tomorrow to protest the rising tide of disastrous conservative budget cuts around the country. The deep cuts conservatives are trying to pass off under the guise of austerity and fiscal responsibility target significant percentages of federal and state allocations for vital social programs. As such, the proposed cuts represent a very real hazard to some of our nation's most vulnerable demographics. Proposed budget cuts just at the federal level place potential job losses between 700,000 and 1,000,000 nationwide. House Republicans are attempting to slash funding desperately needed to support early childhood education, student loan and scholarship programs for higher education, low-income housing programs, family planning and services for pregnant women, homeless assistance grants, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), programs to aid unemployed workers, and many others.

Opposition to the proposed budget cuts must be understood not only as matter of fiscal responsibility, but as a matter of moral and theological responsibility as well. To paraphrase seminal liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez: if you are hungry, you have a material concern; if your neighbor is hungry, you have a theological concern. Faith traditions across the theological spectrum share in common a concern for the most vulnerable members of society: the poor, the sick, the hungry, the widows, the orphans. Looking across the list of proposed conservative budget cuts, one can see dire consequences for each of these and other similarly vulnerable groups if the proposed cuts are accepted.

Compromise on these issues should not be considered a viable option for progressives, as meeting conservative proposals even halfway would, in many cases, still put the interests and well-being of millions of Americans at risk by cutting budgets for vital social programs. Adding insult to injury is the conservative insistence on maintaining tax breaks for the wealthiest individuals and corporations while calling for their social spending cuts. These tax breaks, if modified or allowed to expire, could easily account for the budget deficits which conservatives claim necessitate their proposed cuts. As the Daily Kos' Chris Bowers explains:
Working and middle classes are being forced to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy, corporate giveaways, wars, and economic crashes caused by Wall Street. Money continues to flow upward, and our already undemocratic level of inequality is worsening.
It is time for religious progressives to join people of conscience across the country and take a stand against conservative budget proposals that put our most vulnerable populations even further at risk.

Search and sign up for Defend the Dream actions near you.

*Picture via