The Washington Times - July 27, 2011, 06:16PM

Weighing in on the debt talks, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week said it feared House Republicans’ plan to reduce spending and raise the government’s borrowing limit would cut essential services, and urged that Congress look instead at tax increases and military spending cuts.

“A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly,” the bishops said in their letter, dated July 26 and addressed to members of the House.

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House Republicans were in the process of rewriting their bill to deepen the cuts on Wednesday, but their first version — which the bishops targeted in their letter — actually allows for ever-increasing spending over the next decade, though those increases would be less than current projections. The Congressional Budget Office said the House bill would mean $840 billion in lower spending authority and $710 billion in lower actual payouts over 10 years.

The bishops’ letter specifically targets the House bill. No similar letter has been posted for the Senate, though according to CBO’s evaluation Democrats’ bill in the chamber could actually lead to even deeper cuts. CBO said Senate Democrats’ legislation would mean $840 billion in lower spending authority, and $750 billion in lower actual payouts.

A spokeswoman for the bishops didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The letter to the House was signed by Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of the Diocese of Stockton, Calif., and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y.