Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan has gotten lots of attention recently, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who expressed concerns with elements of the plan. It’s even gotten some lapsed liberal Catholics to utter the word “subsidiarity”, a step in the right direction even if most of these people are looking up the word just to bash Rep. Ryan over the head with. That’s OK. Baby steps.
I think it’s great that we’re having a serious discussion on how to solve our country’s huge budget problem. Rep. Ryan deserves a ton of credit for having the courage and leadership to initiate this discussion via his proposed plan, a plan that is far from perfect but is infinitely better than anything President Barack Obama, the man Americans elected in 2008 to address our budget woes and take firm steps to solve them, has been able to muster.
Folks are justified to be concerned about elements of Ryan’s plan. Mainly, it may be a little too ambitious/aggressive in its entitlement reform even though there’s little honest doubt that our entitlement programs as they exist today will totally fall apart within 20 years unless something is done. Those who criticize the plan because it hurts entitlement programs for the poor ought to consider this, even if they don’t agree with Ryan’s approach. Some argue that having only two tax brackets: 25 and 10 percent, cuts too much off the top although they fail to point out that the proposal to eliminate tax loopholes hurts top earners the most.
Rep. Ryan also deserves credit for not ducking from the heat. He appeared and spoke at Georgetown University shortly after the university’s faculty wrote a letter sharply criticizing the plan. Coming from a university that hasn’t always been a staunch defender of pro-life causes, it’s probably not a fatal blow to the representative from Wisconsin.
Here’s a term liberal Catholics ought to learn more about: prudential judgment. These well-intentioned folks who are jumping on the U.S. bishops’ bandwagon in criticism of Ryan’s plan should be mindful that no matter how one feels about the effectiveness of the plan for the most needy, Ryan is indeed applying an honest, rational and thoughtful interpretation of Catholicism into his plan.
Surely, criticize the plan’s flaws…but not because it isn’t “Catholic”. That’s just ridiculous, since the Catechism of the Catholic Church doesn’t include a section on devising the “official Catholic budget plan”. It’s here where I get irritated with the criticism from some circles. Those same circles that, when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable – innocent nascent life – hem and haw and talk a big game, but don’t follow through.
When it comes to abortion, there’s only ONE prudential judgement.
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