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Bread for the World Celebrates State of the Union Address for Sparking New Debate about Opportunity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bread for the World applauds the president's State of the Union address and the Republican Party response for shifting the national debate from budget cuts to opportunity for everyone.

"President Obama's speech offered more hope for progress against hunger and poverty than any presidential address during the 20 years I've been an advocate for hungry people," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "The president echoed what the Bible says about fairness for poor and vulnerable people and reverberated what church leaders have said about ending brinksmanship in the budget debate."

The proposals President Obama offered Tuesday night would contribute to progress against hunger and poverty through a deficit-reduction strategy that would not add to the hardship of struggling people. Bread for the World agrees with the president on the urgency of a balanced agreement that avoids the sequester and includes tax reforms that increase revenue. If cuts to domestic and international programs go forward, 600,000 mothers and children in this country would lose WIC benefits and 605,625 children around the world would be deprived of life-saving nutritional interventions.

The president's proposals also include quality preschool for all children, a minimum wage that brings full-time workers out of poverty, pay equity for women, measures to reduce gun violence (which robs hope and opportunity from many low-income communities), initiatives to create jobs, and U.S. participation in a global effort to end extreme poverty.

For the past two years, Bread for the World members and churches across the country have urged the president to set goals and work with Congress to end hunger in America and around the world. Beckmann characterized the president's State of the Union address as "an inspiring start."

"The world as a whole is already making unprecedented progress against poverty, so it is quite possible to end extreme poverty within the next two decades," said Beckmann.

Bread for the World is also encouraged by the president's call for comprehensive immigration reform. Bread supports bipartisan immigration reform that addresses the root causes for unauthorized migration and facilitates the reduction of poverty in the United States.

"For centuries, immigration has been a mechanism for poor and hungry people around the world to escape poverty and provide for their families while contributing to U.S economic development," said Beckmann. "Comprehensive immigration reform can help reduce poverty overseas and in the United States." 

Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) response affirmed the basic idea that everybody deserves an opportunity for a decent life, but argued that we can more effectively foster opportunity for all with less reliance on government.

"Republicans and Democrats are now both emphasizing their shared commitment to equal opportunity," added Beckmann. "Initiatives to reduce hunger and poverty are often more effective when liberals and conservatives work together to design them."        

Bread for the World (www.bread.org) is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

SOURCE Bread for the World

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