Giving the Poor Hell

Chucking compassionate conservatism, Republicans have
declared war on the poor in America, says Joe Conason of Salon.com.

With legislative maneuvering designed to punish and deprive the least fortunate among us -- working people at the lower end of the American economy and their children -- the Republicans don't seem to be upholding the caring Christian ideals often proclaimed by the President. They're pushing down wages, snatching away tax credits and food stamps, slashing Medicaid and children's health insurance, and removing bankruptcy protections from families that suffer medical catastrophes. But they're extending tax cuts on dividends and capital gains, and making sure that those bankruptcy laws still protect the richest deadbeats.

Conason blames all of this on "the most literal interpretation of Old Testament law" -but that's where he's mistaken. The Old Testament could be subtitled, "Mess with the Poor and Risk the Wrath of God," because at ever turn, God seems to make provision for the poorest citizens of Israel. God forbade charging interest (Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:36, 37, Deuteronomy 23:19), or even making a profit off the food sold to poor people (Leviticus 25:37); commanded his people to give generously to the poor (Deuteronomy 15), to leave the gleanings of their fields for the poor (Leviticus 19:10), and to note take advantage of people because they are poor (Deuteronomy 24:14).

Perhaps the religious right is not so religious after all.


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