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The federal budget is statement of who we are as a nation. It is more than a financial document. It is a moral one. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). This applies to nations as well as people.
While the federal government’s budget may sound boring or overwhelming with its unfathomable numbers, it’s too important to ignore when it comes to ending hunger.
The federal budget provides Congress and the president with the single greatest opportunity to shape our country’s priorities. The choices made about how the nation generates revenues and spends its shared resources should promote hope, opportunity, and economic security for all people, especially those struggling to put food on the table. As Christians, we believe that a moral measure of our federal budget is how it treats those whom Jesus called “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45).
Our government spends about 11 percent of its budget on domestic programs that assist low-income individuals (excluding health care and Social Security). Less than one percent of the federal budget goes toward international poverty-focused development assistance.
These policies and programs have produced tremendous gains in terms of nutrition, infant mortality, and children’s health care. Internationally, hunger has decreased over the last two decades. The number of people receiving anti-retroviral medicines to treat HIV/AIDS in developing countries increased tenfold to almost 3 million people in the last six years. Since 1990, more than 1 billion people gained access to clean water. When targeted and given the proper resources, these programs can work.
During budget negotiations, Congress too often looks to some of our most effective anti-hunger programs for places to cut. But it’s in the federal budget where many priorities are sharply put into focus. This is where Bread annually focuses its advocacy.
By Jordan Teague, senior international policy advisor
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