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Jewish groups sign on to ‘Faithful Budget’ plan, protest GOP budget proposal

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish groups are among dozens of religious denominations and organizations endorsing a "Faithful Budget" in opposition to the Republican budget proposal, which would cut Medicaid spending and disproportionately shift Medicare costs to fixed-income seniors.

Thirty-seven religious denominations and organizations signed on to the Faithful Budget proposal, which was unveiled Thursday. It pushes for investment in social safety net programs in order to provide essential needs to the most vulnerable Americans. 

“During this time of great need in this country, it is essential that we lift our collective voices to speak to the social and ecological challenges our nation faces," Rabbi David Saperstein, executive director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in a statement. "The Faithful Budget begins that effort.” 

The initiative continues an effort that was launched by the religious community last May to advocate on behalf of maintaining a strong commitment to domestic and international poverty assistance programs. 

In response to the Republican proposal this week by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee, a number of Jewish groups have joined calls to minimize cuts to social net programs, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“The proposal before the House Budget Committee would cut spending for and reduce access to SNAP and other critical human needs programs,” Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said in a statement. “We should not balance the federal budget on the backs of the most vulnerable. Instead, we should be offering them support to help them get back on their feet and get our economy back on track.”

In addition, B’nai B’rith International President Allan Jacobs noted in a statement that “the proposals would shift costs to Medicare beneficiaries while cutting programs that make critical investments for the poorest Americans who are least able to absorb these cuts.”

“We shouldn’t be asking those with the fewest resources to give first,” said Jacobs.

The Jewish Federations of North America, the umbrella body for federations, had yet to weigh in on Ryan’s budget. It criticized President Obama’s budget last month for reducing the tax deductibility rate of charitable donations for taxpayers earning more than $250,000 to 28 percent from the current 35 percent.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), a senior appropriator with close ties to Jewish groups, and the director of Half in Ten, Melissa Boteach, participated in a call with reporters on Wednesday to protest the Republican budget and discuss the impact of the proposal on poor families. 

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