April 10, 2012

Paul Ryan's Cynical Catholic Claims

Following is the statement of Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Graeme Zielinski in response to claims made by Paul Ryan to justify his radical budget.

"For Paul Ryan to justify his radical budget using Catholic social teaching as an underpinning either arrives from designed error or unintended ignorance. Nobody can seriously believe that the "Church of the Poor" would make a fetish out of tax cuts for billionaire hedge fund managers who sip $350 bottles of wine at the same time destroying the social safety net advocated for by our American bishops since the end of World War I.

Many Catholics oppose the Ryan budget not in spite of our Catholic faith, but because of it. Catholics are taught that everyone, not just the rich, have a right to participate in our economic system. They also are taught that income inequality is a great threat to solidarity. Blessed John Paul cautioned against an "idolatry of wealth" that appears rampant nowadays. It can be argued that a Ryan budget that clearly gives priority to capital and the super-rich over workers and the poor alters that balance in a way that offends Catholic tradition. Blessed John Paul wrote, that, "It is the poor who have a claim to special consideration. The richer class can help itself; the poor have no resources of their own to do so. They chiefly depend on the help of the state."

Ryan justifies his budget employing Catholic teaching about "subsidiarity," which says that government should not interfere with what individuals could do themselves. Ryan seems to take this to mean that the only way to prevent this interference is to cut all government. In fact, what this means is a requirement for good government that works alongside the free market to ensure that the needs of everyone are met, with special regard for the poorest.

One need not be a Catholic to see that the Paul Ryan budget advantages the rich and powerful over working families and the poor. And it looks very much that Paul Ryan is animated by the teachings of someone in this document. That seems not to be the Catholic Church. Instead, it seems to be Ayn Rand."