Election 2012: Fighting poverty in a tough economy

Updated: As election day draws near, Governor Romney and President Obama continue to make the case for their candidacies. Whoever wins the election must grapple with this question: As Americans, how do we live within our means and also care for the least of these, in our own country and globally?

By Shawna Templeton and Robert Zachritz
Published October 25, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

The 2012 presidential election is fast approaching, and the candidates are on the campaign trail, telling voters how they plan to address the serious challenges this country faces — issues like the economy, taxes, and federal spending, just to name a few.

Cuts that cost lives

Whoever wins the presidential election will have to work with Congress to find solutions to these pressing problems. And they must act quickly.

If Congress fails to take action before January 1, 2013, the 2001 tax cuts will expire, raising everyone’s taxes, and the across-the-board cuts in federal spending — called sequestration — will go into effect, cutting all federal programs, except for entitlements.

The cuts would amount to a 7-8 percent reduction in funding for every federal program for the next 10 years.

However, not all cuts are the same. For instance, reducing international assistance funding, which accounts for less than 1 percent of the budget, would truly result in lives lost.

International assistance funding allows the United States to respond to global disasters and provide life-saving child immunizations, bed nets to combat malaria, emergency food aid to those suffering from malnutrition, treatment for mothers with HIV and AIDS, and much more. Cutting this budget by 7-8 percent will have a devastating impact and do little to reduce the deficit.

What is even more sobering is that if Congress allows sequestration to go into effect and the 2001 tax cuts to expire, the United States will still run a deficit in a very tough global economy with great human need.

With the likely reduction in government spending on poverty programs, there will be increased pressure on the private sector to care for the poor, both in the United States and overseas.

The next president will be required to work with Congress to address this urgent question: As Americans, how do we live within our means and also care for the least of these, in our own country and globally?

A call to prayer and action

“These are very tough decisions for our elected officials,” explains Robert Zachritz, World Vision’s director of advocacy and government relations. “It is a moral imperative to live within our means, both as a country and as individuals. It is also a moral imperative to care for the least of these, as a country and as individuals.”

Now is the time to come together in prayer for our country, says Zachritz. “With both prayer and action, we can have faith in each other to rise to these current challenges, hope as we seek God’s guidance on how to proceed as a nation, and love for those with whom we passionately disagree.”

How you can respond

Pray for the candidates, and pray for our country.

  • Pray for Congress, President Obama, and Governor Romney. Pray that they may have the wisdom and the courage to make difficult decisions.
  • The decisions we make as voters will not only affect every American, but will also have a ripple effect around the world. Pray for poor and vulnerable children and families around the world who are impacted by our decisions.
  • Pray that we would grapple with what it means to both live within our means and care for the least of these. We need to ask tough questions of ourselves and of our elected officials.