Yes, Jim Wallis, the Deficit Is a Moral Concern

John Aman

Yes, Jim Wallis, the Deficit Is a Moral Concern

I’m sure glad my dad is not leaving me with a pile of debt.

Too bad Uncle Sam isn’t doing the same.

Our “bullet train to bankruptcy” has just roared past $14 trillion in debt with nothing but red on the horizon. The President’s budget will give us a deficit this year of $1.6 trillion and add another $7 trillion of debt over the next ten years.

The share of the debt per taxpayer right now is $128,000 (and growing). That won’t get paid off anytime soon which means that our children and grandchildren get to pay for our budget-busting ways.

That’s immoral. Call it “intergenerational theft,” and a violation of the seventh commandment (“You shall not steal”).  Proverbs tells us that “a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” We’re doing the exact opposite.

The next generation didn’t co-sign our loan but we’re sticking them with the cost of our high living all the same. That probably would have tempted George Washington, a man who struggled with a white-hot temper, to erupt in anger. His advice, delivered in his Farewell Address was that we should “cherish public credit” and “use it as sparingly as possible … avoiding … the accumulation of debt” and “not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.”

The late D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries, put it this way:

The Bible says that inheritances should go from the fathers unto the sons, but we have reversed that concept. We are taking from our sons and our grandsons and are wasting it on our own immediate wants. We have lost the biblical concept of self-discipline—of saving and postponing the fulfillment of desires. We want our grandchildren to pay for the high standard of living that we are enjoying today. What we are doing to our grandchildren is so criminal that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the younger generation today says, when it reaches maturity, “Phooey on the whole bunch of you!” and just cuts us all off. We have already robbed them poor, and it is getting worse every day.

Given the gravity of our fiscal mess, it’s a little mind-bending to hear some take us to task for addressing the debt as a moral concern, suggesting that our motivation is partisan.

Rev. Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners and a supporter of President Obama, complained to the Religion News Service recently:

I wish the Family Research Council and Coral Ridge Ministries would have recognized the debt as a moral issue before they supported two unnecessary and immoral wars and endless corporate subsidies for years.

Actually, the federal deficit and its moral dimension have long been a theme sounded by Coral Ridge Ministries. The remarks above from Dr. Kennedy date to 1989.

And it is certainly true that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have been a huge drain on the federal treasury. However, one of the few legitimate functions of our federal government is national defense. Spending dollars to defend America is what the federal government is supposed to do.

We lost nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. In the wake of that, we’ve acted militarily to take away al Qaeda’s sanctuary in Afghanistan and removed a thug dictator who menaced his neighbors, invaded Kuwait, and used chemical weapons on his own countrymen. All in all, a man much worse than Mubarak—and a friend to some terrorists, too. We haven’t been attacked since 9/11 and millions of people now have a taste of democracy, however imperfect. That’s immoral?

As to our alleged support for corporate subsidies, we’re at a loss. The only corporate subsidy we’ve addressed has been one we oppose: the millions of taxpayer dollars shoveled each year to abortion provider Planned Parenthood. That’s why we’re celebrating the House vote to cut off all taxpayer dollars to this group which kills some 324,000 unborn babies each year.

That’s a win-win for taxpayers and unborn children, and we’re eager for Rev. Wallis to celebrate with us. But we’re not holding our breath. Wallis, after all, has taken subsidies from billionaire George Soros, an atheist who also gives money to groups that promote abortion.

John Aman is director of communications for Coral Ridge Ministries.