The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction couldn’t reach a deal on slashing the deficit, although the “Super Committee” did manage to inspire consensus among a range of Jewish groups.
Deeply involved in delivering social services to Jews and non-Jews alike, groups like the Jewish Federations of North America are concerned about the automatic budget cuts that could be activated in the wake of the committee’s failure. JFNA worries that such cuts will “slash government spending — particularly as it relates to programs that provide needed care to vulnerable populations.” Some people applaud this doomsday plan, although the automatic cuts are symptomatic of a government that refuses to make hard and careful decisions about priorities and taxation.
Other groups implored the members of Congress to complete their appointed task. Rabbis joined prayer rallies, calling on the committee to sustain programs that assist poor families and children. B’nai B’rith International called on the committee to act in behalf of “our nation’s most vulnerable.” The Reform movement’s Religious Action Center worries about cuts to anti-hunger programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; and school breakfast and lunch programs. RAC urged that a “balanced approach be taken by the Joint Select Committee, employing both new revenues and cuts to meet the overarching goal of deficit reduction.”
It was exactly that kind of balanced approach that eluded the bipartisan committee. Its failure suggested a lack of seriousness among our elected leaders and a willingness to sacrifice our nation’s future on the altar of partisanship and party dogma. What we really need to close is a leadership deficit.