Four Catholic nuns rolled into Fox Lake on Wednesday to urge Congressman Joe Walsh to oppose a budget they say does not "provide reasonable revenue for responsible programs."
The Nuns on a Bus, a political action group featuring the nuns from across the United States riding a tour bus, stopped near Walsh's office to also hand the first-term congressman a copy of what they described as the "Faithful budget."
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That budget, Sister Simone Campbell told about 150 northern Illinois supporters, was drafted by leaders of various religions from all walks of life, and does not cut social services like the federal House Republican budget does.
Walsh, a Republican from McHenry, was targeted because he is a firm supporter of the budget developed by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Walsh also is a Catholic.
"As a Catholic boy, I can't criticize a nun," he said in a phone interview Wednesday. "I know they mean well, with their concern for the poor, the elderly. They just have a much different answer (as to how to do that), with more and bigger government."
Walsh noted that while his Catholic faith "teaches me to take care of my fellow man, this is my duty. The government shouldn't force people (to do so.)"
Ryan, in an opinion piece submitted this spring to the National Catholic Register, describes his budget as one that "ends welfare for those who don't need it, but strengthens welfare programs for those who do."
Ryan also said "Government safety-net programs have been stretched to the breaking point in recent years, failing the very citizens who need help the most," and " ... We rightly pride ourselves on looking out for one another -- and government has an important role to play in that. But relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead this effort just hasn't worked."
However, Campbell said the House Republican budget hurts people in Illinois because it would cut Medicaid to more than 1.5 million seniors and children, cuts more than 150,000 jobs in the private sector, ends tax credits for small business owners who offer health insurance to their employees and takes about $670 a year out of the pockets of more than 150,000 seniors in Illinois.
"Ryan said to care for the future, we have to cut services for today," she said. "But, we need reasonable revenues for responsible programs."
Walsh was in Washington when the Nuns on a Bus visited Wednesday. His district director David Carlin said Walsh looks forward to speaking with Campbell at a later date.
"Congressman Walsh has never shied away from political discussion about the issues," he said.
After delivering the budget and a 20-minute conversation with Carlin, the Sisters returned to Fox Lake's Millennium Park to rally supporters.
There, Felicia Lewis, a disabled Grayslake resident, said other people need to stand behind causes like the nuns.
"If you have a heart," she told the crowd. "Go back and look at what you are doing. Lift your voices so you can be heard."
According to their website at nunsonabus.org, the Catholic Sisters "stand in solidarity with all who live in poverty, and we confront injustice and systems that cause suffering."
They plan to travel to other states and speak to congressmen who supported the House Republican budget.
"This tour is our attempt to raise up the fallacy in Congressman Ryan's budget that has been passed by the House," Campbell said. "This budget will devastate the poor in our country; it completely eviscerates the social safety net and you know what? It shifts that money to further tax cuts for the wealthy and more money for the Pentagon -- just at a time when our economy is so fragile and people in poverty really need it."