Social Justice

Poor, Education Must Be a Priority for Government Spending

Below is a letter sent to Representative Johnson this morning as I continue to have grave concerns regarding the direction being taken to address the federal deficit.  A similar letter was sent Senator Kirk but that reflected specific points he made in response to an earlier message I had sent to him.  A letter was also sent to Senator Durbin commending him for his choice of using the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission plan but also asking him to prioritize spending for those on the economic margins and for education.  Also included below are a number of links I used as sources to frame these letters.

Dear Representative Johnson,

Thank you for your continued service as representative of the Illinois 15th District.  I agree that the growing national debt is of significant concern that must be addressed by the current government through difficult choices.  I appreciate your work to this end and the difficult choices this must require.

However, I write to express grave concern over the general direction being championed by you for those cuts on your website.  A regular conversation around my family dinner table is our growing alarm at current budget proposals to single out for the deepest cuts social programs ranging from educational programming, including funding for NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to critical domestic and international programs that benefit the poor.  At the same time, current proposals appear to be advocating for increased military funding.

The “nickel and dime” cuts in social programs are inconsistent with the stated goal of putting our nation on a path of fiscal responsibility when it is considered that military spending (including for past military efforts through much deserved expenditures for military retirement and veterans benefits) accounts for almost two thirds of all discretionary spending.  Indeed, the most meaningful reforms would begin by first addressing the lion’s share of the federal budget, both discretionary military spending and mandatory spending.  Further, I believe last year’s health care reform act was a first, positive step in that direction and should not be underfunded.

Ultimately, the federal budget is a moral document.  Our different philosophical and moral foundations bring us to different understandings of the role of government and subsequent financial priorities. As a follower of Christ, I join with the United Methodist Church “Prophet Driven” campaign and Sojourners “What Would Jesus Cut?” campaign in calling for a just economy.  Those on the economic margins both in the United States and around the world must not suffer further through federal spending cuts but instead should be at the center of our vision for a just economy.  As an educator I also believe that strong educational programming is the cornerstone for fostering a strong civil society and for enabling both individual and community economic success.  To that end, I also strongly support an ongoing federal commitment to effective educational programming, including that of NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Again, your service to our state is greatly appreciated.


Martin Wolske


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