Boston, Mass. - This Labor Day, Catholic Democrats is calling on Catholic Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), RNC Chairman Michael Steele, Newt Gingrich and the 6 Republican Catholic Senators, to support the unemployed and the rights of workers. Additionally, the organization asserted that Republicans must begin working with the Administration to help the millions of people whose lives are being unnecessarily damaged due to today's economic conditions and Republican legislative obstructionism.
Republicans have consistently opposed the Obama Administration's efforts to pass legislation that would either keep current public and private sector jobs funded or to create new public and private sector jobs in the midst of "The Great Recession" and 40 year record levels of poverty. In 2009, all but three Republicans voted against the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, which the CBO estimates has created or saved between as many as 3.2 million jobs in the private and public sectors. Since June, Senate Republicans have threatened to filibuster the Small Business Jobs Act, passed by the House with only three Republicans supporting it - all of whom are Catholic. It is estimated that the bill would create several hundred thousand jobs over the next few years.
"Labor Day celebrates the dignity and rights of workers, the personal fulfillment of a rewarding job, and the individual exertions that have made America great," said Dr. Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats. "Republican obstruction of efforts to repair the economy, including most recently the pending Small Business Jobs Act, represents a callous pursuit of victory in the fall elections at the expense of working Americans."
As the country celebrates Labor Day and the contributions of our nation's workers and labor unions, a record number of Americans will find themselves involuntarily among the ranks of the long-term unemployed this Labor Day. Catholic Democrats, which advances the principles of Catholic Social Justice in the public square and within the Democratic Party, is citing a recent Statement issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "A New 'Social Contract' for Today's 'New Things.'" The bishops' statement is based on the "Magna Carta" of Catholic Social Teaching, Rerum Novarum, which was the very first papal encyclical. That encyclical spoke of both the rights of labor and the legitimacy of the free market. The statement also cites the encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, issued by Pope Benedict XVI last July in the same week President Obama visited the Vatican.
At a press conference Monday, President Obama explained that the Small Business Jobs Act "would do two big things for small business owners: cut more taxes and make available more loans... This bill is fully paid for. It won't add to the deficit. And there is no reason to block it besides pure partisan politics."
"With today's announcement that the unemployment rate has inched up to 9.6%, we have a moral duty as a society to do everything in our power to bring the dignity of work back to the millions of Americans who are without it," said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats. "Pope Leo XIII initiated a revolution in social thought in 1891 when he publicly recognized the dignity of the worker, and Congress followed suit in 1894 by proclaiming the first national Labor Day. From that vision and the Church's concern for the rights of workers, the entire body of Catholic Social Justice as we know it today has emerged and has had a profound effect on social justice initiatives in our country for over 100 years."
"The Catholic Social Tradition provides a 'true compass' for voters in making a choice for the future of our country in addressing such divisive political issues as jobs and the economy, immigration, economic regulation, the environment, and poverty," Krueger added. "We call on Catholic Republican leaders to forgo their obstructionism for partisan gain and join Democratic efforts to repair the economy in a way that serves the needs of people."