Many have already begun to experience the harsh impacts of the foolish Budget Sequester that set in motion indiscriminate slashes to government funding on Friday, March 1, 2013. Budget experts said it would be very difficult to reverse the sequester, and most did not have insight into how to help the 600,000 women and young children projected to lose nutrition aid from the Women, Infants, and Children program, or the estimated 70,000 young kids projected to lose access to Head Start preschool. All we could do was keep advocating for a change of heart in Congress and to finally create our long-awaited “grand bargain” bipartisan budget deal. Some thought we’d have to wait for the second coming before that happened.
When the Sequester created furloughs for air traffic controllers who ensure flight safety, Congress received many complaints about delays from those who fly and the industries that support them. Lo and behold! Where there is a will, there is a way. The U.S. Congress speedily responded. Fight delays have been eliminated overnight. Then, they went home for a week long recess.
They went HOME?! They should have been just getting started.
Christians have long looked to Matthew 6:21 to understand the federal budget from a faith perspective: “Where your treasure lies, there will your heart be also.” Where are the hearts of Congress? Why respond with such urgency to flight delays, and leave waiting – indefinitely – the thousands for whom the sequester could mean homelessness, hunger, and family hardship. If our hearts are with “the least of these,” that is where we should invest our treasure. We have a Congress whose actions just sent our nation’s most vulnerable a message that their hardships are less of a priority than the inconvenience of light delays.
We are also a people of hope, and long before the sequester started, we said that there are faithful alternatives to sequestration. We still believe that, and we see the hope in Congress’ action, however flawed the timing and prioritization. It is not too late to reverse the sequester and pursue these faithful alternatives.
It is up to us to generate the will in Congress to make a better way forward. Tell them they must fly back from recess, fix the sequester, and set things right.
Please adapt and personalize your message to your Senators and Representative. If you or someone you know are personally impacted, it is important they know, so they can put face those who they are harming, and put you and those you care about in THEIR hearts. Ask them to reverse the sequester’s impact on the most vulnerable, and instead embrace a Faithful Budget that creates a Circle of Protection around the programs serving the most vulnerable — a budget that puts our treasure where our hearts lie.