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Perspective: A budget should be about 'moral decency'

Joseph Chan

Time is running out for this nation to raise its debt ceiling or it will default on its bills. It’s mind-boggling to me in the “richest nation in the world” this is even possible. While tribalism has political parties “circling the wagons” and pointing fingers at the other party, if truth be told, there is plenty of blame to go around. Speaker of the House McCarthy and President Biden are now meeting to negotiate a plan forward. As these two leaders embark on this exchange, I’m convinced the will of their respected parties will outshine the needs of the American people.

I think this is a great time for us to remember a budget is a moral statement of priorities, whether it's a budget created by an individual, a family, a school, a city, or a nation. It tells us, mathematically, what areas, issues, things, or people are most important to the architects of that budget, and which are least important. As the Speaker of the House and President engage in a concession plan to avert a default, I’m wondering who will lose and who will win. Let’s be honest, a win-win scenario is unlikely, given the extremely opposite agendas of the Democrats and Republicans. If the most vulnerable in our nation become the sacrificial lambs in this process, we as the American people have the responsibility to call out our leaders immoral decisions.

Any deal that reduces people’s access to SNAP benefits and Medicaid, while maintaining tax cuts for the most wealthy 1% in America is unacceptable and immoral. In his final sermon on April 3rd 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said “this nation is sick.” Part of this sickness is victimizing the poor and protecting the ultra-rich. But there is hope, there is a way forward. A way that reduces spending while protecting the most vulnerable. An equitable way forward that ensures everyone contributes their fair share. The question is, do we have political leaders who are more committed to moral decency than political power?

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., George Joseph “Joe” Mitchell was raised in DeKalb, where he is the bi-vocational co-pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.