Good news, everyone. Rep. Paul Ryan's budget isn't about hating poor people; it's about his deeply held Catholic convictions:
Paul Ryan: A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private. 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?
To me, the principle of subsidiarity, which is really federalism, meaning government closest to the people governs best, having a civil society of the principal of solidarity where we, through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities, through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community, that’s how we advance the common good. By not having big government crowd out civic society, but by having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities.
Those principles are very very important, and the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenants 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 onto life of independence.
If only Ryan had some specific guidance from the Catholic Church about the values the budget should reflect. Oh, what's this? Why, it's specific guidance from the Catholic Church
about what values the budget should reflect:
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we wish to address the moral and human dimensions of the federal budget. [...] We fear the pressure to cut vital programs that protect the lives and dignity of the poor and vulnerable will increase.
As Catholic bishops, we have tried to remind Congress that these choices are economic, political, and moral. We offer the following moral criteria to guide difficult budgetary choices:
1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.
3. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.
And just in case that isn't clear enough for Paul Ryan:
A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons; it requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.
And just in case that still
isn't clear enough for Paul Ryan:
We support proposals in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget to strengthen programs that serve poor and vulnerable people, such as Pell Grants and improved workforce training and development. We also support proposals to restore cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as well as efforts to make permanent recent expansions of low-income tax credits.
In other words, the Catholic bishops believe Congress has a moral obligation to protect the very programs
that Paul Ryan and the Republicans want to cut
Of course, since the Catholic Church isn't actually supposed to be writing our laws and policies because of that whole Constitution thing, there's absolutely no reason why Paul Ryan should care what the Church has to say about the budget. Or, say, women's health care. But since he's the one who claims his policies are guided by his Catholic faith, he may want to review what the Catholic leadership has to say about that.