December 21, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Rev. Robert A. Sirico, co-founder and president of the Michigan-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, made the case for the next phase of welfare reform in a meeting yesterday with President-elect George W. Bush.
“Successfully tackling the problem of poverty will require that persons of different religions, races, backgrounds, and political persuasions, come together around a common agenda,” Sirico told Bush. “This means putting aside past differences, throwing away old labels, breaking the traditional impasse between 'liberal' and 'conservative,' and working together to achieve genuine reconciliation in a common cause.”
The meeting with Bush came just two months after a closed door meeting of religious leaders and charitable providers that established a formal agenda for the next phase of welfare reform. Sirico articulated the priorities agreed upon at this meeting to Bush. Specifically:
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* Emphasizing marriage and responsible fatherhood to overcome childhood poverty;
* Acknowledging the value of work and the importance of successfully incorporating every able-bodied American into the productive sectors of society;
* Embracing educational choice — charter schools, education vouchers, and refundable tuition tax credits — to make sure no child is trapped in a failing school;
* Empowering faith-based private charities through charitable tax credits and other reforms.
“We expect to assemble a sizeable and politically, theologically, racially diverse coalition in support of this agenda. Only by working together in good faith and affirming the wisdom that each of us brings to the table can a truly constructive agenda move forward,” argues Sirico.
“The meeting with Bush paves the way for real progress in the war against poverty, moving away from direct federal control of help to the poor to substantive faith-based solutions,” says Sirico.