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Bishops to Senate GOP: Don't Vote For 'Morally Indefensible' Ryan Budget

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PAUL RYAN
AP

WASHINGTON -- An hour ahead of a Senate vote on a controversial GOP budget plan that would dramatically overhaul Medicare, more than two dozen bishops sent a letter to Senators calling the bill "morally indefensible" and urging opposition to it because the proposal's cuts target America's most vulnerable citizens.

The budget put forward by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which sailed through the House along partisan lines last month, "fails the basic tests of justice, compassion and a commitment to the common good," said the Wednesday letter signed by 27 Protestant bishops from around the country.

"This budget eviscerates vital nutrition programs for mothers and infants (WIC), and makes cuts to Medicaid that will hurt sick children, struggling families and seniors in nursing homes," the letter continued. "Unlike the Good Samaritan, who stopped to care for a wounded stranger on the side of the road, the House budget turns its back on the most vulnerable at a time of grave economic uncertainty even as it endorses policies that gives tax breaks for the privileged few."

The bishops, who represent the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church in 19 states, instead called on Senators to come up with a bipartisan budget that "defends human dignity and basic economic security for all Americans."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is holding a vote on the proposal Wednesday evening that will force moderate GOP senators to weigh in on its controversial proposals: The bill cuts $4.4 trillion over ten years and converts Medicare into a voucher program for those people now under 55. Several moderates -- Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) -- have already said they will oppose the bill. All but four Republicans voted for the budget when it cleared the House and all House Democrats opposed it.

The vote "will be an opportunity ... to see if Republican senators like the Ryan budget as much as the House did," Reid said last month.

The reality is that Senators aren't likely to vote on the bill itself since they must first clear a procedural vote, which isn't expected to pass. But Democrats will likely politicize the procedural vote as proof of which Republicans voted to kill Medicare -- the mantra Democrats may plan to repeat all the way up until the 2012 elections.

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