Faith Leaders Protest Ryan Budget

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While Congress debates a federal budget proposed by Janesville Republican Paul Ryan, faith leaders gathered outside his hometown office yesterday asking him not to cut programs that serve the poor and elderly.

Standing beside a small basket of bread and about a dozen frozen smelt, Janesville Lutheran pastor David Andert invoked the Biblical story of the loaves and fishes. The Janesville protest was one of 17 held across the country yesterday including one on the Capitol steps in Washington. Organizers hope to convince Ryan and other members of Congress to restore the cuts to social safety net programs included in the Republican budget proposal.

“Jesus took a few loaves of bread and some fish and fed quite a few people. The story is interpreted in a variety of ways, but we know that in this country there is plenty if it’s apportioned properly, and we’re just reminding that there is enough.”

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About a dozen protesters held a banner outside Ryan’s office that read, “A Moral Budget: It doesn’t take a Miracle.” Mike Coogan attends a catholic church in Janesville where Ryan was once a member, and is part of an ecumenical church-based group called Faith in Public Life. He says eliminating the food stamp and Medicaid cuts in Ryan’s budget is one of the group’s top priorities.

“Part of the budget is removing federal support for the food stamp program and Medicaid programs and turning it over to the states, which by and large can’t afford it. The federal government can afford to continue the food stamp program, and that’s one of the specifics we’re talking about.”

In response to similar protests in the past, Ryan has said his budget is a moral one and that it is up to local churches and charities to serve the needs of the poor.

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