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Rabbi Saperstein: "Indiscriminate, broad-based and harmful budget cutting is not a sensible way to make policy, and the cuts set in motion today will, sadly, not only hurt struggling American families but may damage the economy writ large."
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Washington, D.C., March 1, 2013 - In response to Congress' failure to reach a budget agreement and the triggering of sequestration, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
"Today, as the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration begin, we are concerned greatly about the impact of the cuts on struggling Americans still recovering from the effects of the long lasting recession. Sequestration protects several vital safety net programs from harmful cuts, including Medicaid, Social Security and SNAP. Yet, the blunt across-the-board budget cuts will impact the Women, Infants and Children food program, benefits to the long term unemployed and housing vouchers, among many other areas supporting people in need. According to the Coalition on Human Needs, not only could 70,000 children be denied Head Start and 4 million fewer meals on wheels served to seniors, but 700,000 jobs may be lost. Every one of these numbers represents human beings, our fellow Americans. And why? That 600,000 mothers and young children may lose WIC nutrition aid just because of the stubbornness of Congress to act is nothing short of a national tragedy. Indiscriminate, broad-based and harmful budget cutting is not a sensible way to make policy, and the cuts set in motion today will, sadly, not only hurt struggling American families but may damage the economy writ large.
The Jewish value of tzedakah encompasses much more than just charity to the poor; it commands justice, righteousness and responsibility. In these difficult economic times, Congress must take responsibility and take action. As budget discussions continue in the shadow of the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution, there are tough choices to be made. But these choices must not increase poverty or inequality for Americans."