“Budgets are moral documents, they’re about choices that we make, what are our core values, what should we care about,” said Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Monday at Columbia University. Gillibrand won the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton when she became Secretary of State. Gillibrand was the keynote speaker for the 14th Annual David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum.
Gillibrand isn’t the first person to called budgets moral documents, just the most recent. But it’s true—budgets are statements about our core values and priorities. The budget choices made in Washington or any state capital alter our fates. The favored get a break. They see new opportunities. Things get easier. Others see their quality of life diminish, along with their children’s futures. And for some, budget cuts can be deadly.
Cutting spending for Pap smears or mammograms, Gillibrand points out, are “not the right choices for our future.” These cuts to women’s healthcare would have deleterious effects, especially for poor women.
Cuts to global healthcare for malaria prevention and treatment could lead to 27,000 to 30,000 child deaths, according to USAID estimates cited by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post—in a story headlined, “When Cuts Lead to Coffins.” About 24,000 more children would die due to lack of immunizations, and another 16,000 would die because skilled attendants weren’t available at birth.
Budgets are moral documents.
What are your sacred and inviolable priorities?
What shouldn’t we cut on moral grounds?
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(Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)