Today Congressman Charles Rangel [D-NY] was joined by distinguished Members of Congress, Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson [D-TX], Donna Christensen [D-Delegate from U.S. Virgin Islands], Barbara Lee [D-CA], and leaders of the inter-faith community in front of the U.S. Capitol to stand up against federal budget cuts. Rangel, his Colleagues and religious leaders called on the government to uphold its moral obligation to help the poor, the aged and the sick.
"I am thankful to be joined by these spiritual leaders and my dear Colleagues in the fight for economic and moral justice," said Rangel. "We are here to speak for the homeless, unemployed, the aging and the one in five children who are born into poverty in America. We are here to stand for those at risk of losing their unemployment benefits, and the social programs so many depend on."
Rangel's rally comes as Republicans hang payroll tax cut uncertainty over the heads of 160 million middle class American families because of their refusal to raise taxes for 300,000 people making more than one million dollars a year. The GOP has also held hostage the extension of unemployment insurance needed by 66% of the 14 million unemployed to barely make ends meet. Rangel has continually stated that the implications of the federal budget go far beyond being a political issue, and that the Congress is dealing with a serious moral issue.
"We stand here with our voices in the wilderness, pleading out for our Colleagues to understand that there are people in misery all over this nation," said Congresswoman Johnson. "It's not a black problem, it's not a brown problem, it's not a white problem; it's a people's problem. Citizens who have given into the pot now need some assistance."
Medicare provides millions of Americans with affordable health care and dignity. In 2011 Medicare recipients saved hundreds of dollars on health costs thanks to provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Medicare beneficiaries live on modest incomes and already spend a substantial portion of their income on health costs. Half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes of less than $22,000 per year in 2010 with 35 percent of them living below the federal poverty level. Republican budget proposal threatens to end the Medicare guarantee and more than doubles healthcare costs for our aging.
In reference to the Gospel, Congresswoman Christensen stated, "I want to be judged as a good and faithful servant, therefore I will stand with my Democratic Colleagues on these issues and stay here until we do take care of those we represent and are in need."
"Thank you so much for your leadership, Congressman Rangel, and thank you continuing to fight for fairness and for giving us this opportunity once again to sound the alarm," said Congresswoman Lee. "A budget is not just about numbers, it's a moral document."
A diverse group of interfaith leaders gathered around Congressman Rangel and his Colleagues to speak in support of America's moral responsibility to the most vulnerable, including: Reverend Donald Robinson of the First Baptist Church, Rabbi Jack Moline of the Rabbincal Assembly and the Agudas Achim Congregation, Reverend Edgar Palacios of the Calvary Baptist Church, Mr. Patrick Carolan of the Franciscan Action Network, Reverend Anthony Evans of the National Black Church Initiative and Sister Gayle Lwanga of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
"Today marks the beginning of our fight against the current moral crisis in our country," said Rangel. "Spiritual leaders have long been a voice of equality and morality in our nation. During these hard times we need their guidance as 99 percent of Americans try to claim economic equality while 1 percent of Americans continue to control 42 percent our nation's wealth without paying their fair share."