Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

I’m a pro-life evangelical. Republicans are pushing a health care bill that isn’t. by Katelyn Beaty: “As it stands, the AHCA would create economic barriers that make it very difficult for women to choose to bring children into the world. A health care bill that prohibitively raises the cost of bringing life into the world is not pro-life.”

Why Democrats and Republicans (still) cannot agree on health care reform by Michael Rozier: “Republicans are trying to replace a health care system that is already built on a conservative framework. There is no way to make it more market oriented and keep the protections people now enjoy.”

The conservative mind has become diseased by Michael Gerson: “A conspiratorial approach to politics is fully consistent with other forms of dehumanization — of migrants, refugees and “the other” more generally. Men and women are reduced to types and presented as threats. They also become props in an ideological drama. They are presented as representatives of a plot involving invasion and infiltration, rather than being viewed as individuals seeking opportunity or fleeing oppression and violence. This also involves callousness, cruelty and conspiracy thinking. In Trump’s political world, this project of dehumanization is far along. The future of conservatism now depends on its capacity for revulsion. And it is not at all clear whether this capacity still exists.”

Gasping for life Syria’s merciless war on its own children by CNN: “Terms like “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” are bandied about on an almost weekly basis when it comes to Syria, abstract concepts that are often weighed down with convoluted language related to the geopolitical machinations of the conflict. Yet when you watch these children choking on what were likely their last breaths, you understand what evil is.” Read More

There is No Compelling Argument against Food Stamps

Millennial writer Meghan Clark writes:

It turns out that feeding hungry people is good economic policy.

It is also what the Gospels require. Matthew 25’s account of the Last Judgment could not be clearer. When Jesus is asked by what standard God will judge us, whether or not we fed the hungry is there in black and white. And Scripture does not limit these injunctions to individuals. The prophetic books repeatedly examine and critique social structures that exclude and oppress the poor. The most common subtitle for Matthew’s parable of the Last Judgment is the “judgment of the nations.”

A budget is a moral document, a statement of collective priorities. It is a statement of who we want to be as a country and community. For Catholics, the first question to ask is: How does this proposal affect the poor and vulnerable? By calling for significant cuts to SNAP and other anti-poverty measures, the president’s budget proposal fails this most basic test.

The AHCA Doesn’t Meet Catholic Social Teaching, Pro-Life Standards

On May 4, Congressional Republicans gathered in the Rose Garden at the White House to celebrate a 217-213 vote to pass H.R. 1628 (the American Health Care Act, or the AHCA) that finally accomplished something they had tried more than 50 times before: to repeal and replace the ACA, also known as “Obamacare” (even though only 17% of Americans supported such legislation according to one poll).  President Trump took the podium to boast, “We’ve come up with a really incredible health care plan, this has brought the Republican Party together.”

Republicans have been quick to defend the AHCA.  My Congressional Representative, Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2nd District), praised the bill because it “restores pro-life principles to our nation’s healthcare.”  He noted that pro-life organizations like the National Right to Life, Susan B. Anthony List, the Family Research Council, and the Concerned Women for America supported passage of the bill.  But this cherry-picked list makes it seem like the AHCA is a slam-dunk for those concerned about defending human life at every stage.  On the contrary, a number of Catholic organizations opposed the AHCA, including the Catholic Health Association of the United States and NETWORK, the Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, which coordinated and published concerns from more than 40 Faith Organizations.  Widening the scope, Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN-5th District) listed 50 groups opposed to the AHCA, including the AARP, American Medical Association, American Health Care Association, National Partnership for Women and Families, AFL-CIO, and National Council of La Raza, among others.  Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA-2nd District) denounced the bill in a most eloquent manner, calling it a “shameful” piece of legislation that was rushed after a “pathetic process.”

Indeed, it seems it was premature to celebrate and defend the bill without an updated Congressional Budget Office report.  This nonpartisan review—released earlier this week—makes it difficult to claim this bill “restores pro-life principles to our nation’s healthcare.”

Here are a few highlights from the CBO report on the AHCA:

These features of the AHCA make it clear that “Trumpcare” falls well short of the standard set by Catholic Social Teaching, whether that refers to the life and dignity of the human person, the call to participation in social life, the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, or solidarity. Read More

‘Mostly Toddlers’ Among 31 Drowned

via Reuters:

At least 31 people — mostly young children — drowned Wednesday after falling from a packed migrant boat while trying to reach Europe from North Africa, rescuers said.

The vessel, one of a group off the Libya coast, listed suddenly, sending about 200 occupants tumbling into the Mediterranean Sea, Italian Coast Guard commander Cosimo Nicastro told Reuters.

“At least 20 dead bodies were spotted in the water,” he said.

Rescue group Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) said it had recovered 31 bodies. “Most are toddlers,” the group’s co-founder Chris Catrambone said on Twitter….

More than 1,300 people have died already this year on the most dangerous route for migrants fleeing towards Europe from poverty and war across Africa and the Middle East….

Trump’s Budget Cuts Target the Poor and Vulnerable

via the USCCB:

Earlier today, President Trump unveiled a budget plan that calls for a sharp increase in military and immigration enforcement spending and stark cuts across much of the rest of the government including the elimination of dozens of long-standing federal programs that assist the poor and most vulnerable among us….

The cuts could represent the widest swath of reductions in federal programs since the drawdown after World War II.  Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, emphasizes the moral imperatives involved in such decisions and expresses concerns about their impact on the nation’s poor and vulnerable….

“The proposed sharp increases in defense and immigration enforcement spending, coupled with severe reductions to non-defense spending for the poor, is profoundly troubling.  Such spending reductions would have an impact on the vulnerable in every state. Crucial programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides critical nutrition assistance to hungry people, would suffer from deep cuts, and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which gives states and cities more flexibility in how they combat poverty, could be eliminated.  When defense spending, which already exceeds that of the next eight nations combined, is receiving a large increase in funds, it is hard to reconcile the significant cuts that are being made to crucial services such as health care, nutrition, income security and anti-poverty programs.”

Pope Francis Gives Trump Laudato Si, as Big Climate Decision Looms

via Margaret Talev and Lorenzo Totaro:

Pope Francis joined an international chorus urging Donald Trump to meet U.S. commitments on climate change in talks at the Vatican Wednesday.

Francis gave the U.S. president a copy of his 2015 encyclical calling for urgent, drastic cuts in fossil-fuel emissions after a half-hour meeting in his private study.

Francis’s choice of gift suggests he is adding his voice to those pressing Trump not to renege on the Paris accord, which is the cornerstone of global efforts to limit climate change. The Vatican said in a statement that the talks focused on international affairs and the promotion of peace, with particular emphasis on health care, education and immigration.

“Thank you, thank you,” Trump told Francis as they shook hands after the meeting. “I won’t forget what you said.”…

Members of the Trump administration have been deadlocked over whether the U.S. should uphold the pact, brokered by nearly 200 nations in 2015. Leaders from Germany, China and other nations have pushed for America to stay.