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Obama and Boehner Budget Proposals Both Fail to Explicitly Protect Poor People

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bread for the World commends the Obama deficit reduction proposal for apparently avoiding cuts to programs for hungry and poor people, but criticizes both the Obama and Boehner proposals for failing to include the principle that deficit reduction should not increase poverty. 

"President Obama's proposal appears to protect poor people, while Speaker Boehner's would cause a lot of hurt," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "But neither proposal explicitly commits to a circle of protection around programs focused on poor and hungry people."

Every major bipartisan deficit reduction package over the past 25 years has adhered to this principle and protected mandatory programs for poor people.  This principle was also explicit in last year's Simpson-Bowles recommendations.

"We appreciate that Speaker Boehner has taken important steps towards a bipartisan deal and are praying for the leaders of both our political parties," said Rev. Beckmann.  "The Bible is clear that a primary function of government is to protect poor and vulnerable people."

The two proposals outline deficit reduction efforts in broad budget categories and are not entirely clear about whether cuts will hurt poor people or not. 

"They might cut Medicare benefits for high-income beneficiaries or maybe Medicaid for poor families with children," explained Beckmann. "They might cut mortgage deductions for the vacation homes of affluent people or maybe tax credits for the working poor. Neither proposal is explicit about these choices."

Speaker Boehner's proposal does specifically mention cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps).  Bread for the World analysts conclude that it would also lead to cuts in tax credits for the working poor, Medicaid, and programs that help reduce hunger and poverty in poor countries.  President Obama's proposal includes the extension of unemployment insurance. It would also raise twice as much new revenue, and thus seems likely to avoid these cuts. 

Bread for the World (www.bread.org) is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

SOURCE Bread for the World

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