The four-day argument for atheism – which God mercifully cut short a day – winds up tonight with Mitt Romney no doubt invoking the Almighty’s love of America as he closes out the Republican convention.
Even before it opened, there was Michele Bachmann describing a “spiritual hurricane,” while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told Fox News that VP pick Paul Ryan – the Republicans’ budgetary godfather – regularly called him during that state’s tumult and was “making sure I was praying enough.”
Democrats next week may use similar language. But as the GOP wears its religion on its sleeve while questioning the president’s faith, it’s fair to ask what all of that piety really means in light of Republican budgetary priorities. It’s fair to ask:
• What God would cut money to educate low-income kids so they can pursue the American dream Republicans espouse? A quarter of Washington’s discretionary grants goes to help states educate children, most of them poor or learning disabled, according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis. That money would be on the GOP chopping block, hurting cities such as Buffalo in particular because, as the center notes, this funding goes disproportionately to “high-poverty schools.”
• What God would make more people homeless? A fifth of the money at stake in the GOP plan goes for housing and community development, including Section 8 funding used in Buffalo to help low-income renters find housing. It also includes the community development grants used to revitalize blighted areas – areas Mitt Romney never saw in June when he came here on a fundraising trip to pocket $1.25 million.
• What God would sacrifice nutrition programs for 7 million low-income infants and children, or cut food stamps to more than 2 million people, to safeguard capital gains for investors and eliminate the inheritance tax?
• What God would kick to the curb teachers, highway workers, police, firefighters and all of the other middle- and working-class employees who would lose their jobs while an economy still sputtering as a result of GOP obstruction offers few new jobs in exchange? What God would sacrifice these municipal workers and their families – not to mention the economy their spending supports – on the altar of tax cuts for millionaires?
• What God would tell soon-to-be seniors that we’ll throw you to the wolves of the health care marketplace by pushing a Medicare voucher program that will never keep up with inflation?
• And what God made Tuesday night keynoter Gov. Chris Christie advocate “telling hardworking families the truth” while refusing to tell them the truth: that the GOP will stick them with the bill for Romney’s plan? The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center looked at Romney’s goals – cutting marginal income tax rates 20 percent, enhancing incentives for saving and investing, eliminating the alternative minimum tax and estate tax, and maintaining revenue neutrality – and concluded he’d “have to raise burdens on middle-class households” to offset tax cuts for the wealthy.
As Romney ends tonight’s address with the requisite “God bless America,” you have to wonder about the role of faith in GOP politics.
If this is what religion tells Romney and Ryan to do, call me a nonbeliever.