Christian Leaders Beg Republicans to Protect the Life and Dignity of the Unemployed

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After a new analysis from the House Ways and Means Committee Democrats determined that more than 1.6 million job seekers were cruelly cut off their unemployment insurance, Christian religious leaders took a moral firm stand, citing a moral obligation “to help protect the life and dignity of unemployed workers and their families.” You know, like Jesus did in the Bible.

Today, faith leaders from across the country sent letters to Members of Congress (but hoping to reach the cold, dead hearts of Republicans) urging an extension of the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and additionally urging them to “refrain from paying for extending unemployment benefits by cutting other important low-income programs.” Oh, dear.

Here’s their desperate plea:

January 27, 2014

Dear Representative/Senator,

As leaders of the Circle of Protection, a broad and diverse group of Christian religious leaders from across denominations, we urge you to extend federal emergency unemployment benefits immediately. With 10.4 million people unemployed and three job seekers for every job opening, a moral obligation exists to help protect the life and dignity of unemployed workers and their families. Just days after Christmas, 1.3 million unemployed workers were cut off from emergency unemployment assistance. It is time to correct this wrong.

While the unemployment insurance program does not cover all unemployed workers, it serves as a lifeline for many families across this country who are struggling to get back on their feet after being laid off through no fault of their own. This assistance is vital. It helps people look for work, put food on the table, and keep their homes after losing their jobs. It provides a sense of security during difficult and stressful times. Even with recent economic growth, there are still 1.2 million fewer jobs than at the beginning of the recession nearly 6 years ago. Nearly two-fifths of unemployed people, or nearly 4 million people, have been looking for work for more than six months.

Additionally, please refrain from paying for extending unemployment benefits by cutting other important low-income programs. Refundable tax credits, like the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, are some of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the country, keeping over 10 million people out of poverty, including 5.3 million children.

We urge you to pass an extension of federal unemployment benefits immediately and to do so without further burdening poor and vulnerable families who are already struggling in this tough economy.

Sincerely,

Alexander D. Baumgarten, director of government relations, The Episcopal Church
David Beckmann, president, Bread for the World
Galen Carey, vice president for government relations, National Association of Evangelicals
Jim Wallis, president and founder, Sojourners
Jim Winkler, president and general secretary, National Council of Churches
Stacy Martin, director of policy and advocacy, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Most Rev. Thomas G. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

Republicans voted five times to extend unemployment under Bush, but now they claim they need “offsets”. Oddly, this sudden desire to pay for things was nowhere in evidence under Bush, as they drunkenly charged two wars and Medicare Part D on Obama’s credit card and told us that deficits didn’t matter.

Sen. Sanders suggested some offsets of his own like forcing tax dodging corporations to pay taxes,
but that’s not what the Republicans have in mind. They’re eying up the social safety net goodies, because what better way to make amends for destroying the economy and handing welfare to corporations than to punish the citizens for the GOP’s bad decisions.

Republicans are obstructing the renewal because they are determined to destroy Obama no matter what the cost to the country. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell even laughed at the unemployed.

The truth is that Republicans don’t have a real plan for the unemployed, except tough luck, just like they don’t have a jobs bill and just like they never had a “replace” even as they ran on “repeal and replace” ObamaCare.

When religious leaders are calling you out for failing to protect the life of the unemployed, and this isn’t the first time (see the Nuns V Paul Ryan’s budget), you might want to reconsider your policy stance, even if just for branding reasons alone. But of course, Republicans can’t change their policies to be humane and decent or they will lose their “base”.

There aren’t words for the shame the current Republican Party is bringing upon themselves. Starving innocent people over budget issues caused by Republicans — it’s so despicable as to be unimaginable. Yet it’s happening.

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