Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Economic Stimulus Package

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued an action alert on the economic stimulus package now in Congress:

The USCCB has contacted Congressional leadership and members of the Administration about the proposed economic stimulus package urging that low-income people be included. Reports indicate that leaders of Congress and the Administration have reached an agreement. We are pleased that low-income people appear to be included in the package through a rebate. However, there is more to do as the final steps are taken on this package. Key goals would be to strengthen the food stamp, unemployment insurance, and low income energy assistance (LIHEAP) programs.


- keep in the stimulus package the rebates that will help low-income families (who don’t pay income taxes but pay other taxes, e.g., social security);

- add to the stimulus package increases in unemployment insurance, food stamps, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)


A basic moral test for our society is how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst. In a society marred by deepening disparities between rich and poor, Scripture gives us the story of the Last Judgment (see Mt 25:31-46) and reminds us that we will be judged by our response to the “least among us.”
The Challenge of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, No. 50.


Providing help to low-income families makes practical good sense because these families will most likely use this money short term within the economy. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke told the House Budget Committee, “There is good evidence that cash that goes to low and moderate income people is more likely to be spent in the near term.” Others, including the January 15, 2008, “Options for Responding to Short-term Economic Weakness,” along with analysts and economists from the Department of Labor and the CBO, report that strengthening unemployment insurance, food stamps and LIHEAP can be effective means for stimulating the economy in a timely and efficient manner.

Bishop William Murphy, S.T.D., Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development for U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry J. Paulson, Jr. explaining the Church’s position in greater detail. That letter is available here.