May 2011 KTA: Fasting for a Fair Budget

Fasting tends to focus you, and the message is that a budget is about the choices we make. This fast is not just about cutting spending, but about the values that will determine our priorities and decisions. Should we cut $8.5 billion for low-income housing, or $8.5 billion in mortgage tax deductions for second vacation homes? Should we cut $11.2 billion in early childhood programs for poor kids, or $11.5 billion in tax cuts for millionaires’ estates? Should we cut $2.5 billion in home heating assistance in winter months, or $2.5 billion in tax breaks for oil companies and off-shore drilling? This debate isn’t about scarcity as much as it is about choices.  This battle over a moral budget will be with us for a while.  – Reverend Jim Wallis

The Reverend Jim Wallis calls the US Budget a ‘moral document’ that sets the Nation’s priorities. Wallis and a coalition of faith leaders have begun a campaign to create a “circle of protection” around crucial social programs.  This campaign started with fasting and public outreach to protest the budget cuts that the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives has proposed.  Wallis has called the budget cuts ‘balancing the budget on the backs of the poor’.

Building from this nationwide campaign, the ROP has called an action on Congressman Greg Walden – protesting his support of the “Ryan” budget proposed by the House of Representatives. On May 7th rural and small town Oregonians will gather in Bend and issue Walden a “Notice of Foreclosure.”  (See the press release here).   But this is not the only action we will take.  Some of us will participate in a “rolling” fast during the month of May – taking the leadership of Wallis, faith leaders and 30,000 others around the country who participated in the nationwide fast.  This month’s Kitchen Table Activism is to decide how you and your group will be a part of this action and fast.

WHAT IS THE ACTIVITY?

I consider our nation’s ‘budgetary crisis’ to be a moral issue.  It isn’t about money.  It’s about values.  What and who do we value as a nation?  It’s time to cut military spending, eliminate tax cuts and loopholes for the wealthy, and support those in real need.  I plan to spend a day experiencing what many in our very supposedly wealthy country experience on a regular basis – a hungry belly.

–      Kathy Paterno: ROP Board Chair, Human Dignity Advocates Board Chair, Powell Butte Resident

We hope to see you in Bend on May 7th but know that not all of us can make the trip.  However, we can each help strengthen the message of our action – that the budget crisis is a moral crisis of values.  This month’s KTA is to amplify the message of the devastating impacts of these budget decisions by joining in a statewide fast during the month of May.  Fast for a day, for a week or for a single meal – any commitment level will draw attention to the moral crisis of these decisions.  Send in a Letter to the Editor in your community letting them know you are fasting and why (samples provided below).

STEPS TO COMPLETE THE ACTIVITY:

  1. Send this KTA to members of your human dignity group and activist friends.  Discuss it at your next meeting or make a plan to get together to complete the KTA.
  2. Decide who will join in the fast.  One option is to consider fasting on Mother’s Day (May 8th) this sends a powerful and symbolic message.
  3. Amplify the message.  Send a letter to the editor about the rally and fast to your local papers during the month of May.
  4. Let us know who in your community decided to fast and what letters got published.

SAMPLE Letter to the Editor:

On (insert date) I plan to join the 30,000 people in this country who participated in a fast in response to the proposed budget cuts targeting vulnerable people in the United States and around the world.

I consider our nation’s budget crisis to be a moral crisis.  Our budget is about the choices we make.  Do we cut billions to food assistance, healthcare and other programs or do we repeal billions in tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations?

I also fast in support of the hundreds of Oregonians who traveled to Bend on May 7th to protest Congressman Greg Walden’s support of the “Ryan” budget passed by the House of Representatives – proposing billions in cuts to our communities while increasing the military budget to over $700 billion.  I commend those who call Congressman Walden to task for supporting such devastating cuts to our communities.

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On May 7th hundreds of rural and small town Oregonians from around the state traveled to Bend to protest Congressman Greg Walden’s support of the “Ryan” budget passed by the House of Representatives – proposing billions in cuts to our communities while increasing the military budget to over $700 billion.

I consider our nation’s budget to be a moral statement – representing the values and priorities of our nation.  Cuts to social necessities like health and food assistance programs for women, infants and children, while increasing the military budget to over $700 billion, sends a message about who we are as a nation.

I commend those who traveled to Bend on May 7th to proclaim to Congressman Walden that our priorities should be for communities and people’s needs and protesting his support of such severe cuts to our communities.   In support, I plan join the 30,000 others who fasted in this country to make a statement in support of those most who would be impacted by these cuts.

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