Faith-Based Leaders Support Aspects of Obama's Budget

Some faith-based leaders voiced support on Monday for President Obama's budget proposal, applauding it for expanding program funding for low-income and poor Americans.

"The idea that policies which benefit the wealthiest automatically benefit everyone has proven false," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of the progressive social justice ministry Sojourners, during a discussion event on Monday. "The president's budget is a step toward restoring the value of the common good. It is a step to rebalance our priorities, protect the vulnerable, and strengthen our economy."

Wallis believes that for too long the United States depended on the "invisible hand" of the market to "make everything come out all right," which he said hasn't happened. But now the President's budget is "a dramatic step" towards restoring a "sense of the common good," the anti-poverty activist contended.

Participants in the teleconference specifically lauded the proposed budget's focus on health care, the environment, education, and foreign aid.

Candy Hill, senior vice president of social policy and government affairs of Catholic Charities USA, highlighted that the budget requests funding for programs that include healthcare reform, child nutrition, housing reform and education and training programs.

Likewise, the Evangelical Lutheran Church also expressed support for the budget's commitment to such issues as health care and education, according to ELCA News service.

The ELCA Washington Office commended the administration for creating a reserve fund for health care system reform, expanding programs to provide affordable housing and prevent homelessness, and increasing fund for child nutrition programs. It also supports the budget for development of clean and renewable energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to denomination's news service.

"It's energizing to finally be in favor of a budget proposal instead of protesting budgets and getting arrested for it," said Mary Nelson, founder of the urban ministry Bethel New Life and participant on Monday's teleconference. "This is a good expenditure of money that will have a long term financial impact on our country because it makes economic sense. It is cost effective to spend budget dollars on prevention rather than spending money once it becomes a problem."

The Obama administration is promoting the $3.6 trillion budget as being capable of reducing the deficit by as much as $2 trillion over 10 years, according to CNN Money. The main factors that will help reduce the deficit include economic recovery, collecting more revenue from high-income taxpayers, reducing corporate tax breaks and scaling down the war in Iraq.

President Obama will submit a formal 2010 budget request to Congress next month, but White House officials began testifying before Congressional committees about the budget starting Tuesday.

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