ISSUES THAT CATHOLICS AND OTHER PEOPLE OF GOODWILL SHOULD TAKE INTO ACCOUNT IN U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

    

BY LORENZO L. PEREZ*

 

I. INTRODUCTION

Catholics in the United States of America who want to fulfill their citizenship duties of voting in presidential elections basing their votes on their religious beliefs face a daunting task of sorting through the different positions of candidates for political office.  Very rarely will they find candidates who have positions in line with their religious beliefs on all the crucial issues.  Fortunately, voters can be guided by a document offered by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to the Catholic faithful in 2015: “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (FCFC)”, a document on the political responsibility of Catholics.   

Taking as a basis the FCFC, this essay discusses some of the key public policy issues that Catholics and other people of goodwill need to consider in making up their mind for whom to vote.  The essay refers first to the four basic principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity. These principles shed light on the discussion that follows on the right to life, gun control, social solidarity programs (anti-poverty, education, and health), immigration, environment, foreign policy and international relations, and domestic and international economic policies. 

Although the existence of the FCFC is frequently divulged at the Catholic diocesan and parish levels, very few Catholics take the time to read the document.  Catholics also face the exhortations of some American Bishops who emphasize the opposition to abortion as almost the only issue that needs to guide Catholics in the ballot box while ignoring, in many instances, other important issues where the teachings of the Church have clear recommendations.  In recent years, politicians who hold positions contrary to the Church’s teachings in most key policy issues, have taken advantage of this situation to court the Catholic vote by opposing abortion.

 1While this essay is based on the teachings of the Catholic Church and it is addressed mainly to Catholics, the author hopes that people of goodwill who share many of the values defended here find the suggestions made in this document useful. The views expressed are the personal views of the author.

 2 Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, December 2015.  This is an updated version previously issued on 2007 and 2011. 

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II.  BASIC PRINCIPLES OF CATHOLIC SOCIAL DOCTRINE

The dignity of the human person as a creature of God is the foundation of all other principles and content of the Social Doctrine of the Church. All social life is an expression of its unmistakable protagonist:  the human person. The Church emphasizes the centrality of the human person in every sector and expression of society but the human person may never be thought as only an absolute individual being, built up by himself or herself and as if human characteristic traits depended on no one else but himself or herself. At the same time, nor can the person be thought as a mere cell of an organism that is inclined at most to grant it recognition in its functional role within the overall system.  Saint John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus of 1991 confirmed that man cannot be understood simply as an element or a molecule within the social organism and was attentive to the view that the person should not be seen only from an individualistic perspective or as part of a mass.

A just society can become a reality only when it is based on the dignity of the human person.  The person represents the ultimate end of society.  God shows no partiality since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in his image and likeness. Together with the recognition of the dignity of each person and of every people there must also be an awareness that it will be possible to safeguard and promote human dignity only if this is done as a community, by the whole of humanity. From the dignity of the human person derive the human rights that every person is entitled to.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 by the United Nations broke new grounds on this respect. Saint John Paul II drew a list of human rights in Centesimus Annus:  the right to life from conception to natural death; the right to live in a united family and in a moral environment conducive to the growth of the child’s personality; the right to develop one’s intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth; the right to share in work which makes wise use of earth’s materials resources; and the right freely to establish a family, to have and rear children through the responsible exercise of one’s sexuality.  In a certain sense, the source and synthesis of these rights is religious freedom, understood as the right to live in the truth of one’s faith and in conformity with one’s transcendent dignity as a person. 

 3Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace:  Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (CSDC), page 49, 2005.

4CSDC, page 63.

5Among the human rights recognized by the Declaration are: human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration without distinction of race, color, sex, language, religion, etc.; right to life, liberty, and security; abolition of slavery, servitude, torture, and arbitrary arrests; right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law; presumption of innocence until proven guilty; freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state; right of asylum from persecution; right to property and prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of property; freedom of opinion and to peaceful assembly; and right to work and free choice of employment.

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The principle of the common good stems from the dignity, unity, and equality of all people.  The common good indicates the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as group or as individuals to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily. Human dignity is respected and the common good is fostered only if human rights are protected and basic responsibilities are met.  The economy must serve people, not the other way around.  It is therefore necessary that an economic system serve the dignity of the human person and the common good by respecting the dignity of work and protecting the rights of workers.  Pope Francis noted in Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) in 2013 that a growth in justice requires more than economic growth, it requires decisions, programs, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.

The responsibility for attaining the common good, beside falling on individual persons, belongs also to the State since the common good is the reason that the political authority exists.  To ensure the common good, the government of each country has the specific duty to harmonize the different sectoral interests with the requirements of justice. The proper reconciling of the particular goods of groups and those of individuals is, in fact, one of the most delicate tasks of public authority.

Among the numerous implications of the common good, immediate significance is taken by the principle of the universal destination of goods.  This principle is based on the fact that “the original source of all that is good is the very act of God who created the earth and man, and who gave the earth to man so that he might have dominion over it by his work and enjoy its fruits” (Gen 1 28-29).  God provided the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members without excluding or favoring anyone.  The universal right to use the goods of the earth is based on the principle of the universal destination of goods.  Each person must have access to the level of the well-being necessary for their full development.  The principle of the universal destination of goods requires a common effort to obtain for every person and for all peoples the conditions necessary for integral development, so that everyone can contribute to making a fairer world.  The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, the marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern.  To this end, the preferential option for the poor should be reaffirmed in all its force.

 6CSDC, page 68.

 7CSDC, page 72.

 8CSDC. Page 75.

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The need to be concerned about the common good also leads to the duty to care for God’s creation or to what Pope Francis calls in Laudato Si, Our Common Home. Care for creation is a duty of our faith and a sign of our concern for all people (including future generations), especially the poor. Pope Francis has noted that both everyday experience and scientific research, show that the poorest suffer the greatest effects of attacks on the environment.  Environmental degradation is one of the issues that force the poor to leave their countries with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children.   

The CSDC (no. 185) notes that the principle of subsidiarity stresses that it is impossible to promote the dignity of the person without showing concern for the family, groups, associations, and local territorial realities.  The Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno (in the 40thyear) considered the principle of subsidiarity as a most important principle of social philosophy at the time of the advancements of communism:  “Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do.  Every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.” Most problems in society are best addressed by a proper division of responsibility among the various levels of entities and degrees of higher and subsidiary bodies.  Too often ideological debates arise placing primary responsibility for addressing needs on either government or private institutions. 

The principle of subsidiarity calls for the protection of people from abuses of higher level of social authority and calls on these same authorities to help individuals and intermediate groups to fulfill their duties.  The principle is imperative because every person, family, and intermediate group has something original to offer the community.  The principle of subsidiarity also is opposed to certain forms of centralization, bureaucratization, and welfare assistance and to the unjustified and excessive presence of the State in public mechanisms.  However, various circumstances may make it advisable that the State step in to supply certain functions that cannot be provided at lower levels of governance such as macroeconomic policy and legal interventions in lower levels of government where there are clear violations of human rights (e.g., actions of the federal government in the fight for civil rights in the United States).

The principle of solidarity highlights in a particular way the intrinsic social nature of the human person, the equality of all in dignity and rights and the common path of individual and peoples towards an ever more committed unity. Never before has there been such a widespread awareness of the bond of interdependence between individuals and peoples which is found at every level. In the presence of interdependence and its constant expansion, however, there persists in every part of the world stark inequalities between developed and developing countries and within countries. These inequalities are promoted by various forms of exploitation, oppression, and corruption that have a negative influence on the life of many states.  The acceleration of interdependence between persons and peoples need to be accompanied by equally intense efforts on the ethical-social plane, in order to avoid the dangerous consequences of perpetrating injustice.

9Pope Francis:  Laudato Si (Praise Be to You, On Care for Our Common Good), 2015.

10Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno was issued by Pope Pius XI in 1933 on the 40th Anniversary of the issuance of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor0.

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The USCCB in FCFC stresses that we are a human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be.  Loving our neighbor has global dimensions and requires the eradication of racism and the addressing of extreme poverty plaguing so much of the world.  Solidarity also includes the scriptural call to welcome the stranger among us-including immigrants seeking work-by ensuring that they have opportunities for a safe home, education for their children, and a decent life for their families and by ending the practice of separating families through deportation. Considering the Gospel’s invitation to be peace makers, a commitment of solidarity with neighbors require that we promote peace and persist justice in a world marred by terrible violence and conflict.

In reference to solidarity, the USCCB stresses that a special emphasis must be given to the Church’s preferential option for the poor.  While the common good embraces all, those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need deserve preferential concern. Pope Benedict XVI has taught that “love for widows and orphans, prisoners and the sick and the needy of every kind, is as essential to the Church as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel”.

III. PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES

Human Life Issues

It is clear from the dignity of the human person that abortion, the deliberate killing of human being before birth, is never morally acceptable and must always be opposed.  As embryology textbooks tell us, the child who lives inside the woman it as much a human as the mother herself.  Cloning and the destruction of human embryos for research or even potential cures are wrong.  The purposeful taking of human life by assisted suicide and euthanasia is not an act of mercy, but an unjustifiable assault on human life.  Genocide, torture and the direct and intentionally targeting of noncombatants in war or terrorist attacks are always wrong. In recent years, the Church has also clearly opposed the death penalty.

11CSDC, pp. 84-85.

12Pope Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), no 22, 2005.

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The abortion issue is one of the most controversial issues in American politics.  Catholic voters find themselves facing a situation where politicians, who have many positions in line with Catholic beliefs, have succumbed to social pressures and declare themselves in favor of the right to abort. This raises the question whether it is possible to vote for such politicians.  The FCFC in paragraphs 35 and 36 discusses this dilemma:

Paragraph 35: “There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.  Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences, or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.” 

Paragraph 36: “When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma.  The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.”

A Catholic voter may decide that, all things considered, he or she has to vote for a politician who supports abortion due to other grave moral reasons such as issues of domestic and international solidarity. However, such a Catholic voter continues to have the obligation to stand against abortion.  Indeed, this voter has a stronger obligation to support anti-abortion efforts and advocate in the political world for the change in position from pro-abortion to anti-abortion.

Gun Control 

The controversy over gun control in the United States is puzzling.  Frequently, one finds people who strongly oppose abortion while also opposing any attempt to control the sales and availability of guns in the country.  The United States is facing a real crisis on gun violence where frequently the victims are the most vulnerable, children in schools.  If one believes in the dignity of the human person, one has to be in favor of tightening gun control in the country.  Some take the stand that it is not necessary to more tightly restrict the availability of guns because people, not guns, kill people, and because people who kill are mentally ill or part of terrorist groups and not typical citizens of the country. Others refer to the Second Amendment of the Constitution that provides the right to bear arms as a reason for no adopting gun control regulations.

 13 FCFC, paragraph 64.

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But the point is that if automatic or semi-automatic assault weapons are readily available, the people who commits killings at random can murder a lot more people than if they only have, for example, a six-bullet revolver.  The Second Amendment was passed at the beginning of our country at a time where the existing armed forces were not sufficient to protect the country and the Founding Fathers were anticipating situations where there may be a need to call a militia that would have to supply their own guns. This clearly has not been the case for almost two centuries. There is no need either to have an automatic or semi-automatic assault weapon to protect yourself in your house or to go hunting.  So, from a Catholic perspective, politicians have to be in favor of gun control through a number of initiatives including better and stricter background checks of gun buyers and the prohibition of sales of automatic or semi-automatic assault guns.

The sad reality is that the manufacturers of guns are behind the efforts to prevent gun control measures through the National Rifle Association (NRA).  The NRA contributes generously to politicians’ campaigns to ensure the prevention of the adoption of gun control measures.  The acceptance of donations from the NRA should be a red flag for Catholic voters.

Social solidarity programs

The dignity of the human person and the principle of solidarity calls for the need to support social solidarity programs particularly in light of the rising inequality in our country and a growing homelessness problem in large cities.  There are already quite a number of anti-poverty programs in the USA, notably the Earned Income Tax credit program for individuals having an income below an established threshold, child tax credits, and the food stamp program.  Other programs emphasize training both at the federal and at the state and local levels.  More recently there have been proposals to help with day care costs for children. Not everything needs to be done by the federal government with the principle of subsidiarity calling for appropriate initiatives at the local governmental level and by the private sector.  An analysis of the effectiveness of these programs goes beyond the terms of this essay but the bottom line for Catholic voters is that the needs are great and he or she should be alert to the position of presidential candidates in this regard.  It does not mean that Catholics need to advocate for the creation of a welfare state; indeed, transparency and efficiency must be demanded from existing anti-poverty programs given the limited resources.  But it does mean that questions should be asked if proposals are made to cut expenditures of existing programs without a clear rationale and without a cost-benefit comparison regarding other expenditures such as military expenditures. 

All persons have a right to receive a quality education.  Young people including those who are poor and with disabilities need to have the opportunity to develop intellectually, morally, spiritually, and physically in order to offer them the opportunity to become good citizens who make socially and morally responsible decisions.  Catholic schools play a key role and, in this regard, freedom of religion has to be defended strongly at a time when Catholic institutions are being attacked by secular forces because of religious beliefs and because of the scandal of some priests and bishops abusing sexually young men and women. But not all families can afford to send their children to Catholic schools because of the cost, the lack of availability in some areas, or the lack of programs in Catholic schools needed by certain student populations.  For this reason, Catholics need to be involved in advocating for adequate funding for schools and universities in general.

Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right.  Despite a recent increase in the number of people insured, millions of Americans still lack health care coverage and health care coverage remains an urgent national priority.  The picture is further worsened by attempts by some politicians to eliminate the existing health care law passed in 2010 without any reasonable or improved alternatives to the existing legislation.  Health care is likely to be one of the key issues in the 2020 presidential election and Catholics must to be alert against demagogic proposals from both the right and the left, and should be concerned with the goal of providing affordable and accessible health care to as many citizens as possible. Many of us are quite satisfied with the health care we have and with enjoying, if necessary, some of the best medical care in the world.  But human solidarity and the common good call for us to be concerned about the need to improve health care in this country while controlling runaway health care costs that benefits a few. In assessing the various proposals, we need to support a health care system rooted in values of respect for human dignity, protection of human life, respect for the principle of subsidiarity, and a system that meet the needs of the poor and uninsured, especially born and unborn children, pregnant women, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations.

      Immigration

The United States is a nation of immigrants.  Indeed, since its creation the nation has benefitted from waves of immigrants who have become productive citizens.  While frequently new immigrants have been subject of discrimination, in general the American culture has been receptive to accept new immigrants.  In recent years, however, there has been a backlash against immigrants for fears of terrorism and potential loss of jobs to the recently arrived.  Some politicians have exploited the fears of Americans and advanced their political careers by accusing the arriving immigrants of being a criminal threat. Immigrants from Mexico and Central America who are fleeing violence in their countries have been among those subject to these accusations.  The accusers conveniently ignore that the violence is frequently associated with the drug trade that supplies the drugs to American addicts in the United States and that the origin of the guns used in the violence are manufactured and sold in the United States.  Extreme measures to close the country to immigrants have been adopted:  the building of walls, the separation of children from their parents when they ask for asylum, and the detention of immigrants for long periods of time without legal access to ask for asylum.

 14FCFC, paragraph 83.

15FCFC, paragraph 80.

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Countries have the right and responsibility to control their borders and to maintain the rule of law.  However, as Catholics, we need to follow the Gospel mandate to “welcome the stranger” and care for and stand with newcomers, whether they be authorized or unauthorized, including unaccompanied immigrant children, refugees and asylum seekers, and victims of human trafficking.  Comprehensive reform is urgently necessary to fix a broken immigration system.   FCFC advocates for a broad and legalization program with a path to citizenship, a work program with workers protection with just wages; family reunification policies; access to legal protection; refuge for those fleeing persecution and violence; and policies to address the root causes of migration.   There is also a need to reach out to Central America countries to see what can be done to improve conditions in these countries including holding their governments accountable for their share of responsibility of the conditions generating the violence.  These are objectives that Catholic voters are called to support.

Environment

Care for Creation is a moral issue. Protecting the land, water, and air we share with our fellow citizens and with the world at large is a religious duty of stewardship and the protection of the common good and reflects our responsibility to born and unborn children.  Pope Francis in Laudato Si, (number 160) has posed the question to us “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”. These are not pious words.  Scientists have been warning that the Earth is warming up with potentially disastrous consequences including floods, draughts, fires and other natural disasters.  In recent years, there appears to be indications that natural disasters are increasing in terms of intensity and frequency.  While the role that human actions have played on climate change is subject to some debate, it is clear that actions to reduce the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere are urgently needed.

Faced with the likelihood of environmental disaster in the future, the actions of the current American administration are bizarre.  The United States has retired from the Paris Accord where its leadership could have led an effort to adopt increasingly ambitious and effective actions to ameliorate the negative impacts of possible climate change; it has rolled back requirements for automobile gasoline efficiency over the objections of some state and auto companies; it has not increased the gasoline tax (which has not been raised for close to 20 years); and it has systematically reduced the powers of the Environment Protection Agency and the environment regulations governing existing and new plants.  In practice and, rhetorically, the current administration has led a campaign against the acknowledgement of the risks of climate change.

 16FCFC, paragraph 81.

17FCFC, paragraph 86.

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There are many concrete steps that can be taken to assure environmental justice and solidarity among generations.  Effective initiatives are required for energy conservation and the development of alternate, renewable, and clean-energy resources.  People of goodwill in the United States must carefully examine the positions of presidential candidates regarding environmental issues.       Foreign Policy and International Relations A foreign policy compatible with Church teachings has to be based on the promotion of the worldwide common good, the spirit of solidarity among nations, and the defense of human rights and representative governments. As part of this focus, the United States should be a leader (given its economic power) in multilateral institutions that promote the common good. In that same spirit of solidarity, it should avoid the temptation of trying to go alone, to bully weaker countries, and avoid isolationist policies that ignore the reality that national interests can be pursued more effectively with the help of allies. The use of military force should be viewed as a last resort in solving conflicts among nations and in reacting to terrorist attacks.  Unfortunately, the experience in the last 60 years shows that the United States has been too willing to abandon diplomatic efforts and enter into military conflict. The Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars have been initiated without a clear strategy on how the conflicts would end. This has led to long and fruitless conflicts claiming generational costs in lives lost and in economic expenditures without achieving the announced objectives. Many of the actions taken during these conflicts were based on misinformation or as a result of misguided national pride leading the United Statas to support repressive regimes. One foreign policy instrument that the United States has also increasingly used is the imposition of sanctions against individuals or regimes.  The effectiveness of measures as the prohibition against trade or financial transactions can be great, and they can achieve valid foreign policy objectives.  However, sanctions often prove to be a blunt instrument that hurt innocent people. Moreover, sometimes sanctions are imposed to court the support of certain sections of the electorate like the case of the long-standing sanctions on Cuba.  These sanctions have not led to the desired regime change and have hurt the Cuban population, failing the people suffering from the oppressive Cuban regime. It is clear that the economic misery of Cuba has been created by its government and the economic system it has imposed on the island but sanctions make life more difficult for the Cuban people and restrict their access to the outside world  while providing the excuse to the Cuban government of blaming the Americans for its problems. 18There are two clear exceptions to these experiences of recent decades:  the war against Iraq after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the invasion of Panama to depose the dictator and drug dealer Noriega, both under the presidency of George H. W. Bush.  Both military operations were clearly defined and had multilateral support although in the case of Iraq the Kurds were abandoned by the coalition forces after Iraq withdrew from Kuwait leaving them vulnerable to the subsequent attacks of the forces of Saddam Hussein. The case of Iran is another disturbing example.  Shortly after taking over in January 2017, the current administration withdrew from the nuclear agreement of Iran and five important countries despite the evidence that Iran was complying with the agreement.  The administration defended this action by saying that it wanted to negotiate a stronger nuclear agreement and obtain commitments from the Iran regime that it would reduce the support for terrorist activities in the Middle East (something that the existing nuclear agreement did not address). Sanctions were strengthened, including the prohibition of trading in the oil market with Iran, which essentially tries to eliminate most of the government revenues of Iran.  Months later, however, Iran is increasing its production of nuclear material, negotiations are not in sight, and Iran and the United States risk an armed conflict. Catholics must demand that its government work to promote peace, avoid wars, and be judicious in the imposition of sanctions.  The Catholic tradition recognizes the legitimacy of just war but teaching that when defending the innocent in the face of great evil, we must never lose sight of the cost of war and its harm to human life.  Nations should protect the dignity of the human person and the right to life by finding more effective ways to prevent conflicts, to resolve them by peaceful means, and to promote reconstruction and reconciliation in the wake of conflicts. Domestic and International Economic Issues Economic policies and institutions should be assessed according to whether they protect the dignity of the human person and promote the common good.  This is something that can be achieved in a market economy like the one in the United States with appropriate economic policies.  Catholic social teaching affirms economic freedom and personal initiative, and the right to private property, emphasizing the goal of fostering the creation of jobs for all who can work with decent working conditions and just wages.  Barriers to equal pay and employment for women and those facing unjust discrimination must be overcome.  Workers should have the right to choose whether to organize, join a union, and bargain collectively without reprisal. At the domestic level, the decisions of the government regarding taxes and expenditures are the heart of the matter.  Presidential candidates who advocate for a fair and progressive tax system should be supported.  It is fair and reasonable that the tax burden be shared according to each taxpayer’s means and, in line with the preferential option for the poor, to expect those with greater incomes to pay at a higher tax rate.  This is nothing new and has been the practice for many years in the United States and other countries.  Recent experiments at the federal and state level to lower tax rates for the rich to encourage investment with the expectation that tax cuts would generate increased economic activity that produces rises in tax revenues large enough to compensate for the tax cuts is not the actual outcome. In addition, the increased economic activity from the tax cuts is short lived.  At the same time, tax rates cannot be confiscatory and need to be kept at rates comparable to those of competing economies. Moreover, there is also room to increase the progressivity of the tax system by eliminating unnecessary tax exemptions that benefit those well connected who have the resources to lobby for their special interests. Citizens need to demand that expenditure policies be clearly delineated and explained.  Unfortunately, in the last few years, both political parties have been happy to reach budgetary accords by agreeing to increase military and non-military expenditures at the same time, without a serious analysis of the relative merits of the various expenditure programs and of the implications for the size of the fiscal deficit.  The impact of the growing fiscal deficits has been ameliorated by the loose monetary conditions that have been successfully implemented since 2008 to support economic activity and employment but the historically large deficits will eventually become a problem for future generations and leave the economy more vulnerable to shocks. The current generation has a responsibility to pay sufficient taxes now to properly fund social support programs, while avoiding unreasonable burdens on future generations. Other areas of economic policy are important to the promotion of the common good.  These include anti-trust policies which need to be modernized with the advances of technology and the control of a few firms in technology sectors.  Environmental regulations of certain economic activities are important to ensure that environment is not sacrificed by the pursuit of profits. At the international level, the increased globalization and the rise of China as the second economic power presents challenges to the United States.  The United States has been a leader in the promotion of multilateral institutions to address issues in the trading and financial systems.  Catholic teaching suggests that the United States should continue to lead in the multilateral world.  Trade barriers have been reduced over the years through multilateral trade negotiations and, more recently, through regional agreements.  This approach should not be abandoned because it is more likely to promote the common good at the international level.  Domestic efforts to compensate those negatively affected by trade liberalization ought to be strengthened.  Resorting to trade wars to achieve perceived interests’ risks generating major disruptions to the world economy and be counterproductive at the end.  Success in obtaining needed reforms on investment and transfer of technology regulations in China is more likely to be achieved in the World Trade Organization with the help of like-minded trading partners than trying to do it alone.  Cooperation among nations on monetary and international finance issues needs to continue through the adequate funding of multilateral financial institutions and avoiding distortions in foreign exchange markets. IV.  FINAL COMMENTS The essay tries to draw from the teachings of the Church specific recommendations on key public policy issues in order to determine which presidential candidate in the United States should be supported.  There are many complex issues which need to be addressed (some not discussed here) on which reasonable people may disagree, but the author hopes that this essay helps voters of goodwill to take into account all the relevant issues and to make their decisions on the various policy issues based on the values defended here so as to choose the best candidate for their votes.

*Lorenzo Perez, Ph.D.*
US Treasury, US Agency for International Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, D.C.
Adjunct Professor at the George Washington University. Retired from the IMF in 2009 after working there for more than 30 years and leading IMF missions to countries in South America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

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