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ETpro's avatar

If the Ryan Budget passes, will it actually help the poor?

Asked by ETpro (34202 points ) May 14th, 2012

I was just listening to an interview with an evangelical Christian leader, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Martin Bashir asked Perkins how the Evangelical community reconciles their stances against marriage equality with their support of GOP efforts to defund all federal help for the poor. The implied accusation is the Christian Right uses selective application of the scriptures much like some of the so-called Constitutionalists pick and choose what parts of the document they like, and ignore those parts that don’t suit their ideology.

Many on the Christian Right have been stolidly silent and some have even been a cheer-leading choir for the Ryan reconciliation budget, which will cut:
•     Social Services block grants for 23 million people
•     Child care for 4.4 million poor children
•     Meals on Wheels that currently feeds 1.7 million senior citizens
•     Transportation services for 1 million disabled Americans

Note that all these cuts do little of anything to pay down current debt levels, because they are offset by further tax breaks for the very wealthy. We’ve had enough experience with self-financing tax cuts by now to know that’s as big a fantasy as Dick Cheney’s claim the Iraq war would pay for itself.

Perkins maintains that the poor can’t be properly helped by government. He says this should be left to the churches. Didn’t we have churches back in the past when the poor begged in the streets and died of starvation or hypothermia as they lived in homelessness and misery with no hope of escape? What makes Perkins honestly think that churches, which spend such a huge percentage of their donated capital on building ever more glorious houses of worship, acquiring property and business, and collecting fabulous artifacts and works of art; will actually do more to support the poor now than they did when they were the only institution charged with the job. If they really want to lift the poor out of poverty, what’s stopping them from doing it now?

What would Jesus say about the Ryan budget? What would Jesus say about the enormous wealth of the world’s churches being tied up in gilded buildings, art collections, and secular investments?

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24 Answers

janbb's avatar

How could it?

ragingloli's avatar

That is like asking if someone who had been stabbed in the stomach would be helped by stabbing him in the neck. The answer is “no”.
And churches helping the poor? They do not have a good track record when it comes to that, to be PC. In fact, they need poverty to lure more members with false promises of a blissful afterlife.

SpatzieLover's avatar

No. Coming from the land of Ryan I can assure you that helping the poor, or the middle class for that matter, is not his intention.

elbanditoroso's avatar

No. Simply put, the math doesn’t work out.

Unless you consider multi-millionaires poor. In which case they will benefit in a big way.

wundayatta's avatar

No, but perhaps it will make the rich richer. And you know how hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven, right? So by giving more money to the rich, we’re leaving more room for the rest of us to get into heaven. Shoot. Maybe we should all kill ourselves and leave the world to the rich. See how much fun they could have then.

josie's avatar

Nothing the government does will actually help the poor. Otherwise, there would, by this time be no poor since the Government has been trying to “cure” poverty for three generations and there is still a socio economic stratum of “the poor” (Although “poverty continues to be defined up in the US, well beyond what true world poverty represents)
The source of poverty is the inability to produce wealth sufficient to sustain the life of individuals and/or their families combined with the presence of crime. This is a result of devaluing of education,flawed psycho-epistemology, poor physical health, and in some cases mental disability. Some of these are symptoms of moral vacancy. None of them have anything to do with Government.
What Jesus says has nothing to do with government. One of the several discoveries of the Enlightenment was that Government should be secular and the Church may be mystical. Failure to consider this notion is one of the reasons that Islam wallows in the 16th Century.
I do not even know with certainty that Jesus as we imagine him actually existed. But if Biblical stories have a modicum of truth, he would NOT have approved of the trappings of wealth associated with the Church. The Church certainly is the institution that, in our time, should be director of charity, since true charity is a selfish and voluntary act, and membership in the Church is voluntary. The Reformation affirmed this fact.
I have noticed that plenty of people who claim to want to help the poor simply want to pay a levy to the Government and let the bureaucracy carry the water for them. This is nothing but a fom of Bourgeois narcisism, sort of like imagining that you are above mowing your own lawn or raising your own children, so it is OK to delegate it so you can play more golf or take more vacations without the kids.
The point is, the “problem” of poverty has nothing to do with government. It has to do with a culture that is little by little making too many excuses, and substituting Jesus for Uncle Sam.

josie's avatar

Or should I say substituting Uncle Sam for Jesus. Sorry.

ragingloli's avatar

Nothing the government does will actually help the poor.
Wrong.
It provides funds for housing, sustenance, clothing, and a bit more for buffering. It also provides basic education, higher education, and funds for higher education. All that is helping the poor, both by improving and stabilising their immediate circumstances, and providing the resources and opportunities for self improvement.
The church will, at most, only provide for a minimum level of the first three, with homeless shelters, soup kitchens and maybe used clothes.
It will not provide for education, even basic, and especially not higher education, as the latter has a substantial attrition rates in terms of religiosity. Colleges and universities breed atheists.

Also, a democratic government is a society’s proxy to do its bidding. The purpose of a democratic government is to carry out society’s will. If that will includes alleviating poverty, then that automatically becomes one of the government’s purposes.
“by the people, for the people”, not “one nation under god”.

jerv's avatar

In the Bizzaro world, maybe.

And people wonder why I question the economic prowess of Conservatives….

jrpowell's avatar

“Nothing the government does will actually help the poor.”

That is were I stopped reading.

How do you define help? Making sure they can eat with food stamps helps. Or do you think government fails if they don’t become overnight millionaires?

Trust me, food stamps help the poor. Like I have said a hundred times, the social safety net allows me to walk to 7/11 at 2am without getting shot in the back and robbed.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Ryan’s budget will do nothing to help the poor. We need to reduce the military’s budget (cut the Pentagon’s ability to fund new war toys) & the tax dodging corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes. Just doing these two things would greatly enhance our ability to fund the needed Social Services Programs, with maybe a little left over to start rebuilding our infrastructure.

mazingerz88's avatar

@josie Nothing the government does would totally eradicate poverty, maybe-?

Did Perkins really say helping the poor should be left to the churches? Was he wearing a straight jacket when he made the statement-?

BhacSsylan's avatar

@Linda_Owl “cut the Pentagon’s ability to fund new war toys” I find it intriguing that Ryan is going against the pentagon’s express opinion on the matter for this, so even they don’t care much about the ‘war toys’ at the moment.

As for the question, of course not. People who think that the government should cease helping the poor have very little to no knowledge of the causes and perpetuating factors of poverty. Such as the fact that going hungry and lack of sleep due to adequate shelter severely impacts job and school performance, and the impact of ongoing systemic oppressions that are somewhat alleviated by thing like scholarships for poor and minority students.

ETpro's avatar

@janbb I think it actually could if the churches of the US actually directed any serious portion of their “charitable” donations toward helping the poor. What they do give is generally aimed more at converting the recipients into customers than at actually lifting them permanently out of hunger and poverty. It’s about like General Mills claiming that a promotional giveaway makes them a charity, and they should forever more be tax exempt.

@ragingloli Indeed they do have marketing in mind.

@SpatzieLover Thanks for a down home view. But even the Catholic Bishops could see that all the way from the Vatican. :-)

@elbanditoroso You’ve got that right. Those making less than $10,000 a year would see their current tax go up by 2%. Everyone with income up to $30K per year would get a tax increase from Ryan. Those earning over $1 million per year would get to keep, on average, ”$264,970 more”:$264,970 than they were gifted by George W. Bush.

@wundayatta I’m not suicidal, but I do think it would be fun to see the rich realize that garbage collectors and sewer workers actually do something that is often more worthwhile to mankind than Hedge Fund Managers.

@josie So three generations is an abject failure, but 4,500 years of religion failing at the same task is a bang-up success. Your handlers are brilliant programmers, my friend. But then, they didn’t get to be billionaires by being stupid. As @ragingloli notes, you are flat wrong.

Look at the list in the OP. Those are all real programs. Many help people who are in need through no fault of their own. They are children, seniority citizens, people with debilitating handicaps. When the church was handling it, they mostly starved or froze to death in the streets. Praise the Lord, poverty eliminated. Let them all die. Isn’t that what Jesus taught? Only the rich shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Do evangelicals even read the bibles they constantly thump?

@jerv, @johnpowell, @Linda_Owl & @mazingerz88 It’s just like their “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” initiative. They inadvertently forgot to mention they meant destroying as many as possible and trying to point the blame on Obama. Let Detroit go bankrupt with all the collateral damage to the auto parts industry in America. Force the post office to fun 75 years of pensions in 5 years to destroy them and lay of hundreds of thousands of postal workers plus all the rural small business that have to pay a vast premium for UPS or Fedex to even pick up or deliver at their address. Cut finding and lay of millions of police, firemen, EMTs and park rangers… They were all for jobs… In China.

@BhacSsylan It’s like being a Strict Constitutional Interpretationist—it only applies to the parts that support the right-wing ideology. All that blather about freedom and equality is just fluff the authoritarian Founding Fathers put in there. The Bibles the same way. It tells us to be pro life and execute as many people as humanly possible, launching endless wars for “freedom” to do what the man with the firepower says do. How dare those dumb A’rabs have our oil under their sand anyway?

Paradox25's avatar

I’m still trying to figure out when Jesus became a Republican. It is very obvious that the programs which help the poor are not what is driving us into further debt, but a whole host of other things are causing this. I’m still waiting for those tax cuts that the Republicans keep promising us too. Now the Repubs are bringing up the gay marriage issue, yes the old divert strategy that the right-wing propaganda machine is so famous for.

jerv's avatar

@Paradox25 Looking at the way things are going, I am actually starting to think that the current incarnation of the Republican party is a deep-cover operation by the Taliban designed to destroy America from within.

I wish I were entirely kidding, but they are truly doing a wonderful job of it; well beyond Osama Bin Laden’s wildest dreams.

jerv's avatar

Ah, here is a prime example of what I am talking about.

ETpro's avatar

@jerv Ah yes, the joys of Democracy when it means single party rule with an authoritarian leader at the top. Oh, the GOP has already taken care of the democracy problem in Michigan. This is probably a blueprint for a state-by state push.

jerv's avatar

@ETpro Funny that this is from the party that is against central control and so hardcore about states rights.

ETpro's avatar

@jerv All authoritarians come up with reasonable sounding rationales to get their hands on power. It’s only after they are in absolute control that the hammer drops.

jerv's avatar

@ETpro You must read this RPG supplement at some point.

ETpro's avatar

@jerv Actually, no. But reading it just now only confirms what I have observed in human behavior over the years.

Paradox25's avatar

@jerv Well I’m sure that you already know how the right would respond to themselves justifying more partisanship, probably along the lines of an ideology rhetoric feel good speech that has God, country and guns, or something similar in it. Yawn.

I’m not what most people would call a lefty, but the right wing should be called the wrong wing these days. Now many wrong wingers love to brag how ‘conservative’ they are, conservative (the modern version of it) which really means “who’s the bigger a—hole”.

I was registered as an independent for most of my voting years, my track record of voting was fairly divided into supporting Democrats, Republicans and even third party folks. I did switch to Republican when it seemed like a more reasonable brand of them started to emerge. I liked Ron Paul, though I feel that some (alright most) of his economic policies would be disastrous for most average working Americans. I liked Gary Johnson even much more, but unfortunately he too is in the wrong party. I was seriously thinking about switching my party to Democrat.

ETpro's avatar

@Paradox25 As a small business owner and fomer Republican turned off by Nixon than Reagan, My sincere sympathies.

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