Of the 535 members of Congress, we know there are one Muslim and a number of Jews. The vast majority call themselves Christians and there is not a single atheist in the bunch. At least there is no one who will admit to it. Many of the most regressive members, Bachman...DeMint...Ryan...Boehner...Shelby...wear their religion on their sleeves and claim it helps to inform and direct them when they are faced with moral decisions. It is their religious beliefs, which lead them to oppose abortion and most forms of contraception. Their reading of the Bible leads them to want to break down the wall, which separates church and state. I take them at their word and thus I can see a solution to the current budget deficit/debt ceiling impasse...Matthew 25:31-46.
It's the end time and all the nations have been gathered before God. They are separated with one side getting paradise and the other eternal damnation. The criteria are quite simple. "I was naked and you gave me clothing, hungry and you gave me something to eat, thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, sick and you healed me, in prison and you visited me. Whenever you did this for the least of your brothers and sisters, you did it for me." If you helped the least of society you were in. If not, God called you accursed and rejected you. Since so many members of Congress claim to follow Jesus, read the Bible and live by its precepts, how does this help solve the latest boondoggle?
Congress and the President have to accomplish a number of tasks. They have to raise the debt ceiling to maintain full faith and credit in our treasury notes. They have to set budget priorities to bring our fiscal house into order. They have to create jobs and grow the economy. They have to promote the general welfare.
It's why I'm baffled by the Christian regressives. If they have their way, the social safety net of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid go away. (I'm not being histrionic they have said its their goal). They would end Head Start and food stamps as they now exist. They want to eliminate the earned income tax credit for the working poor and job training for workers whose jobs were taken overseas. They oppose expanding Pell grants for poor students. At the same time, they refuse to raise taxes on the rich even though tax rates haven't been this low since 1950. They want to cut taxes for corporations, many of who pay no taxes now. They continue to support an ever-increasing budget for the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security and the DEA. I'm confused. Matthew 25 says the key to salvation is providing for the least of our brothers and sisters. Do you sense some kind of disconnect? Could it be these are cultural Christians, people who claim to believe to fit in, rather than people of faith? How would rich or privileged atheists differ with their "Christian" members of Congress on these matters?
What would a fiscal plan look like if it were proposed by the sheep rather than the goats? It would raise the debt ceiling in order to keep our word and pay our debts. It would look forward and return tax rates back to their level in 1992. The Pentagon would see a smaller budget even as the Veterans Administration budget would have to grow to handle all those hurt and damaged over the last 10 years. Social Security would increase its eligibility age to 68 over 10-15 years. There would be no income limit on how much you have to contribute. Medicare would also increase its eligibility age and costs brought under control through comprehensive health care reform. Health care reform would reduce the demand for Medicaid. Between Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Pentagon and along with interest on the national debt, you have covered 3/4 of the entire budget. As for the rest, it's simple. Programs which help the least of our brothers and sisters get funded. Educational opportunities are expanded. Vocational training expanded. Basic research, the key to innovation and jobs, is funded. Budgets for the EPA would increase. (How could improving our health and environment be un-Christian?) Anything, which ignores or abandons the stranger, the naked, the hungry or those in prison, is anathema. Imagine the impact these Christians and their gospel could have in the immigration debate and the issues of surrounding the poor and strangers pouring into this nation.
No one has to be a Christian. There is no religious litmus test to be a member of Congress is there? (Ok, ok my tongue is firmly inserted into my cheek.) How can you claim to follow the little Jewish carpenter and yet ignore one of the key tenets of salvation? Imagine if our budget debates and our discussion of national priorities started with the criteria laid out in Matthew 25. Imagine our country with health care and education and jobs and food available to all. Imagine national policy based on what is best for the least of our citizens rather than a policy designed to help the haves have more.
Of course such policies would be condemned as socialism or communism or some ism and the condemnations would come on Sundays from pulpits and congregations all across the land...and when it's time for reckoning they will say, "When did we see you naked or hungry? When did we see you thirsty or sick, a stranger or in prison? (If we had seen you we would have helped!) Whatever you didn't do for the least of your brothers and sisters you didn't do for ME."
Should we be a nation of sheep or goats?