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Dahlkemper on the Morality of the Budget

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Kathy Dahlkemper was one of the pro-life Democrats who lost her bid for re-election last year. She has penned an op-ed at The Hill, which talks about the negative consequences for the pro-life cause were the House GOP budget to be adopted. And, in words that resonate with my post this morning about subsidiarity, she writes, "Red flags should go up when an elected official supports cutting or ending a program that guarantees assistance meeting people’s basic needs and offers no evidence or even explanation describing how these needs will be met. Legislators like Congressman Paul Ryan and Speaker Boehner often argue that private charity and philanthropy is all that is required of Christians and faithful citizens. This argument denies the moral imperative in Catholic social teaching to create a just society directed toward the common good."

Boehner's Problem

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Politico has a great article up this morning that shows how limited House Speaker John Boehner is in budget negotiations with the White House and the Senate.
As I wrote at the time of last year's election, the GOP decided to feed the Tea Party tiger and then ride it to victory in the midterm elections. But, when you ride the tiger, you go where the tiger wants to go.
Boehner seems genuinely interested in striking a bargain, which is how our constitutional system is supposed to work. But, he is being hamstrung by anti-tax zealots in his own party.

Subsidiarity in Drag

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In the on-going debate about the federal budget, several conservative Catholics have sought to defend the draconian cuts in federal spending being demanded by the House Republicans by invoking the principle of subsidiarity. The cuts are so manifestly directed at programs that assist the poor, while demanding precisely no sacrifices from the wealthy, that the invocation of subsidiarity bears the appearance of a fig leaf. Actually, the reality is worse.

Subsidiarity is the idea societal issues and problems are best dealt with at lower levels of social organization, and that the higher levels should intervene only when the lower levels have failed to achieve the social goal in question. So, the most basic social unit, the family, should deal with whatever problems it can, then turn to the community, the state and only as a last resort should the federal government be employed.

Bad Jobs Numbers

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Well, the White House surely did not need a bad jobs report for June, but that is what it got. Only 18,000 new jobs were added. The unemployment rate is at a painful 9.2 percent.

This should, but won't, confirm the fact that cutting taxes does nothing to increase employment. You will recall that last year, President Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years as well as introducing a payroll tax cut. Six months later, where are the jobs?

Companies hire when their business activity requires additional workers. If they don't need more workers, and they get a tax cut, they pocket the difference. Additionally, there is nothing like economic uncertainty to make companies scared about hiring new workers, and there is nothing that is contributing to uncertainty today more than the GOP intransigence on the budget negotiations and their failure to raise the debt ceiling.

Judicial Murder in Texas

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Humberto Leal Garcia was killed in Texas last night. He was put to death by the state of Texas. The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote refused to issue a stay and Gov. Rick Perry, thinking of running for the presidency, took no action to prevent the killing either.

Let us stipulate that Mr. Leal as guilty and a thoroughly horrible human being. Let us stipulate that the death penalty is a just form of punishment, even though I do not agree and the Church sets very, narrow restrictions on the procedure, restrictions that certainly were not met in this or the countless other incidences of judicial murder in Texas.

But, in addition to killing Mr. Leal, Texas killed America's word last night. The nation has pledged itself by solemn treaty to grant foreigners accused of crimes in the U.S. to receive the assistance of their embassy. Mr. Leal was not given this opportunity.

So, in addition to Mr. Leal, Texas last night killed your chance, dear reader, should you find yourself in a foreign prison, of invoking that treaty and not being laughed at.

What a world.

Referendum on DREAM Act in MD

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This morning's Washington Post reports that opponents of the Maryland DREAM ACT, which allows the children of undocumented workers to attend state schools at in-state tuition rates (seeing as they do, in fact, live here), have secured enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot as a referendum.

I read this news just after posting about Bishop Tobin and civil unions in Rhode Island so the relationship of the Church with the culture is already on my mind.

Here is a test for the Catholic hierarchy in Maryland. Can they - and will they - fight as strongly for the DREAM Act as other hierarchs have fought gay marriage proposals?

The Problem With Bishop Tobin

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Many people expressed their disappointment, and others their disgust, with the recent statement by Bishop Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, after that most Catholic state in the Union adopted civil unions for same-sex couples. Critics charge that Tobin was insensitive in his remarks, but I think there are times when a religious leader must risk others’ sensitivities when proclaiming difficult truths. Some thought the bishop’s injunctions severe, but there are times in the Scriptures when Jesus is severe, albeit usually with those rendering judgment not with those receiving it.

My difficulty with Tobin’s statement is of a different character. I find it impoverished.

Tobin wrote: “Can there be any doubt that Almighty God will, in his own time and way, pass judgment upon our state, its leaders and citizens, for abandoning his commands and embracing public immorality?”

Adios Elliot Spitzer

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Yesterday, CNN cancelled Elliot Spitzer's show and he gave his last performance. I say performance because while the show started out as a fun and engaging hour of banter, with the hard-driving Spitzer facing off against the mild-mannered and supremely composed Kathleen Parker, once Spitzer forced her out, the show became too much Spitzer all the time. Too relentless. Too up tempo. Too aggressive. In the end, too predictable.
Spitzer is bright, very bright. And he used his vast, and interesting, network of friends to make his show better than it might have been. Who doesn't want to hear from Simon Schama? And, when the Libya crisis first broke, Spitzer turned to his friend Fouad Ajami, and other CNN shows began using this first-rate scholar whose opinions are always deeply informed. But, I found myself unable to watch the show unless I was myself feeling exceedingly pugnacious and, at 8 p.m., I am generally not thinking smackdown.

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