Yesterday, President Obama unveiled a budget plan that targets income inequality and echoes the challenge he posed to Congress in last month’s State of the Union Address: create an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort.
Again, we thank the President for his commitment to working families, particularly for his leadership in making Paid Sick Leave and childcare access economic priorities.
As people of faith, we are called to advocate for wages and working standards that honor the human dignity of workers. We welcome a budget that supports policies that provide tax credits for families and the working poor, but recognize that it is not a permanent solution.
A few days before the President’s budget speech, the U.S. Census reported that 16 million children had to rely on food stamps in 2014, compared to nine million in 2007. The number of innocent lives hurt by poverty wages and income inequality is growing at an alarming rate.
Isaiah clearly states what God expects of government leaders: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:16-17).
Too many workers, many of them parents, are pushed into poverty by low wages and job instability. Often, hardworking parents are forced to depend on the generosity of family, friends, community organizations or government just to survive.
As the President said, we need a budget that helps working families feel more secure with paychecks that go further.
His budget proposes a six-year $478 billion program to rebuild public infrastructure. The plan to invest in our roads and bridges will not only make America safer, it will also create good jobs that could help lift working families out of poverty and funnel money back into our local economies.
We urge Congress to follow the President’s lead on passing a budget that prioritizes the creation of good jobs and on setting a livable federal minimum wage that would allow workers to provide for themselves and their families.
In addition to some of the good steps in the budget, we urge the President to put the issue of paystubs back on the Department of Labor’s regulatory agenda. This can have positive far reaching effects all on its own. Currently, millions of workers do not know how their pay is calculated and what deductions are taken from them, leaving them vulnerable to wage theft. Workers need clear paystubs to understand if they are being paid according to the law. When tens of millions of dollars of unpaid wages are stolen from workers annually, putting Paystubs for All on the regulatory agenda is an important complementary step for raising workers’ incomes.
We urge Congress to pass a budget that prioritizes the creation of good jobs and on setting a livable federal minimum wage that would allow workers to provide for themselves and their families.
Photo courtesy: AP