Wednesday, July 27, 2011

USCCB On The Debt Ceiling Crisis: A Return To A More Traditional Political Stance

This aspect of the Republican party platform does not have the USCCB seal of approval

Today the USCCB sent out a letter with their views on the current budget debate-- or budget war or political grandstanding or political death march or economic suicide or whatever it is that congress is engaged in.  Here's a small part of it, but it did my heart good to read it:

"A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly." (The bold emphasis is in the original text)

 The entire letter is worth reading if only because it's close to being progressive and it reflects actual Catholic teaching on social justice.  Plus it's Christian as well as Catholic.  (The two are not always the same.)  Unfortunately, unless the USCCB is joined by LCWR, Congress probably won't pay much attention.  It seems religious women have more of an impact in Congress than Catholic bishops.  Maybe that's because religious women tend to be in life's trenches with the laity far more than most Catholic bishops.

My own personal opinion of this idiocy is that Barak Obama would have made a very good Nixon like corporate Republican.  I always suspected he was going to be far more Bill Clinton that JFK, but the reality seems to indicate he's actually closer to Nixon than Clinton.  Which says what about how far right this country has swung.  It's so far to the right,  mainstream Republicans couldn't find their way back into their own home  with satellite navigation.

Which brought back memories of the USCCB in the 70's and 80's, when they really were progressive social justice Catholics who thought more like Jesus and less like Robert P George.  That was before St Ronald Reagan recognised their influence and then had his heart to wallet talk with Blessed JPII.  From then on things swung to the right faster than one could say Archbishop Chaput.

Anyway this got me thinking what it would take for progressives to get any kind of foothold and start swinging things back towards JFK and away from Ayn Rand.  Since God is good,  I came across these thoughts at the end of this article on the debt crisis by Robert Borosage:

 "Progressives need to learn not so much from the Tea Party as from their own history and build an independent movement to stand with working Americans. Unlike the Tea Party fringe, a progressive movement has the advantage of mobilizing Americans around values and the policy priorities that are supported by a broad majority. It can organize to hold legislators in both parties accountable, demanding that they stand up for the many, not the privileged few. Today, a range of groups are doing just that, calling on members to inundate Congress with demands that Medicare and Social Security be protected, and that the rich pay their fair share of any deal. The challenge for the movement is whether it can gear up to run its own challengers in Democratic primaries against incumbents who are more responsive to their contributors than their constituents. The American Dream Movement, championed by Van Jones,, the Center for Community Change, the Campaign for America's Future that I help direct and others, is beginning to build that uprising.

There is much talk about new centrist third parties, about the need for bipartisan compromise to get things done. But when the Democratic position is to embrace $2.7 trillion in cuts from discretionary spending, divorced from any demand for progressive tax reform or any growth strategy that will rebuild the middle class, the "center" has been wrenched so far to the right that it is at odds with the common sense of most Americans. We need a citizen's movement willing to challenge money politics, clean out the corrupt stables in Washington, and demand a politics that works for working people."

If the USCCB got on board with this idea it would only be in their best interests.  For starters, abortion numbers will go way up if the Tea Party gets it's way and millions more Americans will die from lack of lack of medical coverage, lack of any ability to access preventative medicine, lack of decent food and housing, stress from joblessness, suicide,  and any number of other ways life provides for those who can't fend for themselves.  Really, it would be the pro life thing to do.  They've at least made a start.


  1. The US Congress has not been listening to the citizens of this country for forty years or more. They've been listening to the bankers, the lobbyist for big business like oil and gas. Both parties seem to have a center in which people can agree on basic issues. It is usually the spin-doctors and talking heads on TV News programs that still believe we're living in a world of a two party system. The two party system is broken and has been for years. It's been dysfunctional in the sense that both parties have not been working for the people's interest.

    We definitely need a third party progressive movement that speaks about the issues of creating a nation we can all live in and thrive in.

    * Education - A college education should be FREE. This nation is becoming dumb and only getting dumber, in comparison to other countries test scores.

    * Health Care - We all need it and it should not cost a fortune to get quality care. Med students should not have to pay for their education. One of the reasons for the high cost is the high cost of their education, which they pass on to their patients.

    * No Interest Mortgages

    Forward March America into a brighter future. Time to enter a new age. People are sick and tired of politicians who say one thing and then do another!!! Let's rid ourselves of this nightmare of US political campaigns as usual in which the only people who "win" are the wealthy.

    Let me put it this way: if we don't start a third party this country is going into a black hole in the universe and all hell could break loose. People are really fed up and disgusted in the politics as usual.


  2. Butterfly, I am not certain that the way we are set up constitutionally really allows for any third party to flourish. Otherwise, I pretty much agree with much you are saying. I think that we really have a problem as we elected Obama to govern as a Democrat and to espouse traditional democratic issues and he has let far right republicans frame the agenda and has been pushed to govern as a president of the right. It is interesting because the Republicans want him out at any cost even to bankrupt this country. Right now the people see Obama as the more reasonable one but will they when the elections come next year if the economy has crashed? I just don't know what is ahead but I do agree with Clinton that Obama should use the power of the 14th amendment and raise the debt celling. President Obama does not seem to have the intestinal fortitude to do it. Clinton would have and Bush would have in a minute.

    Finally, the Catholic Bishops speak out in a positive way but they have lost all their creditability. They have helped put into office these politicians and the Bishops can not control them. Only billionaires can. The Bishops real agenda is to remain in the good graces of the Billionaires. This is the same church thinking that caused a flirtation with the Nazis in the thirties.

    We seem to be headed for more street demonstrations and possibly violence in the streets. Will the US military shoot at the public. The Soviet military and Egyptian military refused, but what will happen here. I have felt for some time that the misguided Catholic Bishops are leading us toward a violent world.

    One thing for certain the politicians our bishops supported are threatening an internal revolution against two institutions that most Americans really cherish--- social security and medicare. What will happen to those tea baggers who no longer get their ss checks or to the availability of medical care if medicare defaults? What will happen to all of us if social security is "privatized" and medicare is put in the hands of insurance companies. This is the "adult conversation" that the Republicans propose. I have felt for some time that the politicians that our Bishops support will lead us to violence in the streets. This is a world that I hate to leave to my children and grand children. When my father died in the nineties, he was hopeful for our world, the circumstances for hope are much more dim right now.

  3. Whether the Constitution is set up that way or not I believe is irrelevant in extreme circumstances. Obama does not seem to be a Democrat anymore, so another party would really be a real Democratic Party. So the 3rd Party would not really be a 3rd Party, it would be a committed political force with the agenda that is Democratic.

    I also agree with Clinton that Obama should use the power of the 14th amendment and raise the debt celling. That makes perfect sense to me. I also agree with you that the Republicans don't give a hoot about the economy, jobs creation, the American people, nor do they care about anybody except for their bank accounts, that must be cushioned or something from some economic collapse that they would benefit from.

    The violence visual is clearly seen when one understands that people who have no hope, no job, no dream, will start acting crazy. With nothing to lose different factions will congregate and cause mayhem. They will be suppressed by the powers in place already and they will not hesitate to use force.

    Everyday I read news accounts of law enforcement overstepping their boundaries. People who live in ghettos have lived with that for years. The jails are filled with poor people. The rich steal and the poor pay the price.

    I don't know what is going to happen either. There are many level headed and clear thinking persons that need to unify their small groups in order to help straighten out a rotten situation. The alternative to a third party is a movement that puts pressure on the President and the Congress to act in the interests of the People.

  4. Butterfly, here is an article from this mornings LA Times about many who want other options in candidates:,0,116246.story

    Will another group get the clout of Ross Perot and influence the results of the next election. Mayor Blumberg seemed to want to run last time, could a third party both win and govern. Obama even when he had the clout of the congress still had let the republican agenda weaken his biggest success reforming medical care. The current congress has vowed not to pay for this reform even though it might well save money in the long run.

    Ralph Nader and Ross Perot had their influence. There was good and bad in each's attempt, but neither were successful in changing the steady corruption of the American system.

  5. I'm sure if I surveyed Catholic Trad blogs, I'll see them championing a "humble submission of the mind and will" to the Bishops' statement.

    "No!" you say?

    Why not? If the bishops had reiterated their teachings on women's ordination, same-sex marriage, and ANYTHING to do with the pelvis, they would be screaming at us to do it!

  6. The above was posted by Butterfly.

  7. If you want to understand how far right the U.S. has moved, rent and see the film, "Born Yesterday" starring the great Judy Holliday.

    There are dialogue lines in it that will have your head shaking in disbelief. How could Hollywood have had the temerity?

  8. I have no experience of Nixon, but IMO Obama has been very Clintonian in governing,(that is not a compliment) heck his staff is full of Clinton alumni.


  9. My concern is that the problems with our political and economic systems are irreparable, and we lack the will to fix them.

  10. Dennis I'm not quite sure what to make of American Elect. Seems to have a large financial sector influence. I can't help but think certain members of that group helped fund the Tea Party and that has evolved to bite them in the ass. It was a monster they created and now can't control.

    The sudden influx of cash for American Elect might indicate another attempt to influence voters, but this time in a more centrist direction, which still means nothing good for most Americans.

    Butterfly, you are on target. Both parties seem to have abrogated their core constituents. The Republicans have sold out to scared right wing single issue zealots of some sort, and Democrats to right center business interests. In the meantime the middle class is quickly become educated trailer trash. How sweet it is.

  11. I agree with the need for an independent group/movement that advocates for the poor, the overworked, the neglected. It's too bad that mainline Christianity often doesn't seem to eager to fully step into that role. I suppose it needs an external movement to guide it as well.