Reform Response to Presidential Budget

On Wednesday President Obama released his budget for Fiscal Year 2014. In response Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

“We recognize the necessity of finding real solutions to the budgetary challenges facing the nation and welcome President Obama’s innovative approaches to funding early childhood education, replacing sequestration and targeting job creation. At the same time, however, we are concerned by the potential harm caused to the most vulnerable Americans through cuts to vital safety net programs including Medicare and Social Security. Even as the imperative to address ever growing costs is clear, this cannot be done at the expense of those who are most in need of assistance. As we have often said, a budget is a moral document, reflecting not just our priorities but our values as a nation.

Judaism stresses the obligation of the community to care for everyone within it. Our tradition teaches, “Two are better off than one, in that they have greater benefit from their earnings. For should they fall, one can raise the other; but woe betide one who is alone and falls with no companion to raise them!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) We must stand by those among us who have fallen on hard times and serve as their companion, helping them to raise themselves to hope, meaning and self-sufficiency.

Even as we remain watchful of possible to cuts to vital safety net programs, we are gratified by the continued Presidential leadership in supporting gun violence prevention efforts and in laying the foundations for comprehensive immigration reform. We welcome the President’s commitment to eliminating the wage gap; we applaud the strong support for effective anti-hunger programs both domestically and internationally, including SNAP, WIC and improved foreign food aid; we appreciate improvements to the tax code, including increased revenues and extensions in to the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which provide vital support to low-income working households; and we hail the President’s prioritization of the modernization and streamlining of the EPA and increased funding for research, development and greater use of sustainable energy sources. At the same time, we are disappointed that the budget leaves the harmful Hyde amendment in place and are concerned that cuts to Medicare will adversely affect seniors and lessen access to healthcare.

Above all, with $2.75 trillion of deficit reduction already enacted, and nearly 70% of that coming from program cuts rather than new revenues, we cannot continue to disproportionately slash programs that serve families striving to make ends meet. As the Administration and Congress move forward in budget negotiations, we urge them to focus on the real-life consequences of their decisions on struggling American families.”


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