I am a Catholic. I’m also an economic conservative. Apparently this makes me a bad Catholic. At least that is the impression I get from an opinion piece that appeared in today’s Albuquerque Journal by Allen Sanchez of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The basic point Sanchez makes in his article, “Don’t Balance Budget on Backs of the Poor,” is that we should not cut spending AT ALL to close the $433 million budget deficit we now face. Instead, we need to repeal the 2003 income tax hikes, raise corporate taxes, and close other “tax loopholes.” In other words, your typical left-wing claptrap. This view is not only inconsistent, it is a prescription for economic stagnation.
First and foremost, most government spending is not for the benefit of the poor. The RailRunner, Spaceport, and film subsidies are just three major wasteful projects that, if they benefit anyone, benefit the wealthy to a far greater extent than they do the poor. Where was the Catholic Church questioning this wasteful spending?
Also, there are other cuts that can be made that will not hurt the poor, but will help them. As I wrote in this recent opinion piece, certain Medicaid reforms can remove wealthy recipients who don’t need it from the system. Other reforms to the same system will actually empower the poor rather than keeping them trapped in a well-intentioned albeit misguided Medicaid system.
The fact is that there are still cuts to be made in New Mexico’s budget. On the other hand, many of the programs supposedly designed to benefit the poor actually do more harm than good. Lastly, while Sanchez fails to acknowledge this fact, making it more difficult to do business in New Mexico through higher taxes will inevitably harm the poor by cutting off job opportunities and stifling economic growth.