Wallis has announced “The
death of compassionate conservatism.” If only it were true.
conservatism” is the Republican Party’s pat phrase that justifies
tax money being spent by private welfare agencies in the name of
the poor. It is the means by which Republicans loot the taxpayers
and then buy votes in the name of helping the poor. Because they
entice private charities into the transaction, they can wrap the
policy of confiscation in the swaddling clothes of religion. This
gives the Republicans a way to increase their voting base in traditional
Democratic neighborhoods, whose blue-collar or no-collar voters
are turned off by the Democrats’ self-professed secularism.
a political side benefit, the money makes the dispensing agencies
dependent on the Federal government. It puts them on the side of
tax-funded welfare spending — charity at the barrel of a gun.
see this as another great opportunity to sue the government in the
name of the separation of church and state. The ACLU can bring a
lawsuit for using government money for sectarian purposes. If successful
in court, this pressures the receiving agencies to abandon their
confessional stance in order to keep receiving the funds. Sometimes
In short, compassionate
conservatism is a three-fer for the proponents of the healer State.
that compassionate conservatism is now dead. Why? Because the Republicans
are planning to reduce this specialized form of looting by cutting
some welfare spending. So, he concludes, Republicans are not truly
compassionate. This is because Wallis defines compassion as sending
out armed tax collectors to demand that Americans and resident aliens
fork over their hard-earned money to the State on behalf of his
official constituency, the poor. He warns:
House is scheduled to begin debate tomorrow on its budget bill,
which includes $54 billion in cuts. On the table are cuts of $9.5
billion in Medicaid — by requiring co-pays for pregnant women and
children for the first time; $8 billion in foster care, child support
enforcement, and aid to the disabled; and $844 million in the Food
Stamps Program, which would prevent 300,000 people from receiving
food stamps. Forty thousand children would be cut from reduced-price
school lunches. Lawmakers intend to follow these with a further
cut of $70 billion in taxes that will primarily benefit the top
3% of taxpayers. The message from Congress is that in response to
Hurricane Katrina, we’re going to cut services for the poor, cut
taxes for the rich, and increase deficits for our children and grandchildren.
Such a spending
cut, he believes, is immoral.
need strong moral leadership in Congress, especially during this
time of war, record deficits, rising poverty and hunger, and natural
disasters. Cutting food stamps and health care that meet the basic
needs of poor families is an outrage. Cutting social services to
pay for further tax cuts for the rich is a moral travesty that violates
and his colleagues are masters of verbal guilt manipulation. It
is their most highly developed skill in their contribution to the
social division of labor.
House leadership seems to be saying they literally want to take
food from the mouths of children to make rich people richer. If
this ideology and politics of rich over poor prevails and our leaders
fail to govern from a set of moral values, then the religious community
must conclude that compassionate conservatism is dead.
One can only
needs is more Bible study. If Congressmen will just study the Bible,
they will not do this morally reprehensible thing.
this battle for the budget unfolds, I am calling on members of Congress,
some of whom make much out of their faith, to start Bible studies
before they cast votes to cut services that will further harm the
weakest in our nation. They should focus on the gospel imperative
— what Jesus tells us about our obligations to the “least of these.”
You see, “our
obligations” really means “the State’s obligations.” It therefore
means “obligations of those morally wretched rich.” It means “obligations
owed to my favored special-interest groups and voting blocs” to
be paid for by “my political opponents’ favored special-interest
Next, he invokes
that famous slogan, “What would Jesus do?”" For Wallis, it really
means, “What wouldn’t Jesus steal?”
of them have heard the slogan “What would Jesus do?” Now they should
ask, “What would Jesus cut?” Budgets are moral documents, and they
reflect our national priorities and values. In the name of social
conscience, fiscal responsibility, equal opportunity, protecting
our communities, and the very idea of a common good, the upcoming
budget votes will be closely watched by people of faith.
It will surely
be watched by this person of faith. I pray that the
cuts will be made. It is almost too much to hope for.
Jesus as a precinct organizer.
urge you to read the alert that follows, pick up your phone, and
call your member of Congress. Tell him or her to show political
will in standing up for the least of these, as Jesus reminds us.
is not how I see Jesus. What about you?