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My Blog
  • David Beckmann

Big things are happening now in our nation and for me personally.

Congress is negotiating a transformational recovery package, including both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the family support budget bill. Even when the budget bill is scaled back, the package may still do more to reduce poverty than any legislation in my lifetime.

I’m now a co-chair and the coordinator of the Circle of Protection, a coalition of church bodies and ministries that include nearly 100 million members. The leaders and groups in the Circle of Protection have been inspired to a burst of activism in advocacy. Check out what the Circle is doing, especially what Christian leaders are saying to their people about the family support budget bill (https://circleofprotection.us/). A delegation from the Circle was recently invited to a meeting at the White House with senior advisors to President Biden.

My work with the Circle is keeping me busy, but I’m also a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York this term. Building on the course I taught in Berkeley this spring, I’m focusing my Union course on effective lines of action in faith communities to change the politics of poverty. Legislative advocacy is just one of them.

I’ll be posting 20-minute videos from a series of guest presenters on my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3lJ7yirhK7RpAQCq9Q_4tw) and sharing some of what I’m learning in blog posts. I hope you will find these videos and posts useful as you consider how you can best contribute to overcoming hunger and poverty in our time.

I’m still convinced that God is moving in our time to end hunger. I think of the progress that’s been made around the world as a great exodus from hunger. The pandemic has been a serious setback - a Sinai phase of the exodus. But the setback hasn’t by any means cancelled out what was achieved in recent decades, and it’s still feasible to virtually end hunger and extreme poverty in our time. In fact, hunger and poverty in America have dropped this year, thanks mainly to President Biden’s American Rescue Act.

I retired from serving as president of Bread for the World and the Alliance to End Hunger more than a year ago, and I thank God that I’ve been able to establish a new leadership role. I’m now devoting about 50% of my work time to current advocacy and 50% to learning and teaching about how to strengthen the contribution of faith communities to the political change we need to make rapid progress against hunger and poverty.

  • David Beckmann

These 17 Republican senators and all the Democratic senators voted together last night to begin debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. If you live in one of these states, call your senator to say thank you and urge a Yes vote on the final bill:

  • Roy Blunt of Missouri

  • Richard Burr of North Carolina

  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia

  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana

  • Susan Collins of Maine

  • Kevin Cramer of North Dakota

  • Mike Crapo of Idaho

  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

  • Chuck Grassley of Iowa

  • John Hoeven of North Dakota

  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

  • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

  • Rob Portman of Ohio

  • Jim Risch of Idaho

  • Mitt Romney of Utah

  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina

  • Todd Young of Indiana

This overdue $1 trillion investment in infrastructure would contribute to sustained economic prosperity for the whole country. The bill includes measures to pay for the investments it makes. It will not increase the federal deficit.

Importantly for people who read my blog, this bill includes features that would powerfully benefit low-income Americans, mainly by allowing them to increase their EARNED incomes:

  • An estimated two million new, union-wage jobs every year over the course of the coming decade. Ninety percent of these jobs would not require a college education.

  • The largest-ever investment in public transportation, including 24,000 buses and 5,000 rail cars. Lower-income people are much more likely to use public transportation. Improvements would allow many people better access to the parts of their cities where the jobs are.

  • Access to high-speed internet for every American. This would stimulate economic activity and improve the job market in many depressed rural and urban communities.

  • Investments in water-supply systems, including the replacement of all the lead pipes that are poisoning our children. As a result, lots of kids will do better in school and in life.

Bipartisan collaboration on this scale is a good thing in itself in our bitterly divided country. Former President Trump is threatening to support primary challenges against Republicans who vote for this bill. So these 17 Republicans need encouragement from voters in their states.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill is the first of three momentous decisions that are pending in Congress right now. Passing this bipartisan bill improves the prospects for Senate passage of the larger, Democrat-only recovery package (with its emphasis on human infrastructure) and voting-rights legislation. Please read the letter that the Christian leaders in the Circle of Protection sent to President Biden and every member of Congress last week. It makes the case for action on all three of these fronts.

Photo from TimeOut.com

  • David Beckmann

From the Sunday after Easter to the 4th of July, I’ve published the Poverty, God, Politics series of webcasts and companion blog posts. The webcasts were drawn from guest presentations to a graduate seminar I taught in Berkeley this spring. Today I’m releasing the final webcast, a 20-minute summary of what I’ve learned through this whole process.