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September 16, 2021

Moral Principles, National Priorities, Budget Choices

Human and Moral Dimensions of the Budget Reconciliation Debate

U.S. Capitol building

While the United States is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and Afghanistan, Congress is debating and deciding on national priorities and investments that will affect every American family and community. This fall, both the House and Senate are considering a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that would make unprecedented investments in families with children, the environment, education, health care, and housing, as well as create new policies on taxes, immigration, abortion funding, and other issues.

Too often this debate is seen in purely political and partisan terms, focusing on whether Congress will pass the president’s program; whether the GOP can block President Biden’s agenda; and how this might affect the 2022 and 2024 elections. In this dialogue, the new director of NETWORK, the new editor of a major conservative magazine, the co-chair of a Christian voice for the poor, a state policy and justice advocate, and a journalist covering Congress and the faith community explored different questions:

  • What are the human and moral dimensions of these decisions?
  • How will these debates affect the “least of these,” especially poor children and their families? Immigrants and Dreamers?
  • Will it abandon the prohibition on federal funding of abortion?
  • How will it be funded? Who pays?
  • How should Catholic social thought themes of human life and dignity, family and care for creation, solidarity and subsidiarity, option for the poor and vulnerable, and pursuit of the common good guide our nation’s choices?

John Carr, co-director of the Initiative, moderated the dialogue.

Resources

View a list of articles and other resources for this dialogue.

This dialogue was co-sponsored by the McCourt School's Center on Faith and Justice.

Participants

Ashley Kenneth

Ashley Kenneth

Ashley Kenneth is president and CEO of The Commonwealth Institute which advances racial and economic justice in Virginia by advocating for public policies shaped by people most impacted and credible fiscal research.

Rev. Carlos Malavé

Rev. Carlos Malavé

Rev. Carlos Malavé is the former executive director of Christian Churches Together in the USA and co-chair of the Circle of Protection, a leading Christian coalition giving voice for those who are poor and vulnerable in the federal budget process.

Mary Novak

Mary Novak

Mary Novak became the executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice in April 2021. She is also a lawyer and an educator who has served in several key roles at Georgetown University.

Ramesh Ponnuru

Ramesh Ponnuru

Ramesh Ponnuru is the new editor of National Review, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a columnist for Bloomberg View, and a contributing editor for National Affairs.

Elana Schor

Elana Schor

Elana Schor is the Congress editor at POLITICO and previously covered religion and politics for the Associated Press.