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Groups deplore further cuts in social programs

(ran NT LT CT CTI editions)

Priests, rabbis and ministers who feed the hungry and shelter the homeless asked the Clinton administration Wednesday not to make spending cuts that will shift more poor people onto their doorsteps.

The representatives of three major religious organizations _ the National Council of Churches, the Synagogue Council and the U.S. Catholic Conference _ were concerned with proposals calling for steep cuts in spending on social programs to decrease the deficit. They said the White House and Congress need to help cut the "social deficit," the moral impact of poverty on American life.

The religious leaders expressed opposition to any cuts in aid for the poor but made plain they particularly disliked proposed cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. A plan surfaced on Capitol Hill last weekend to prune $51-billion out of such so-called entitlement programs.

Also drawing fire from the religious leaders were proposed cuts in tax credits for low-income families and any pullback from Clinton's proposed increase in the food stamp program.

It is the first time in about 30 years that the three religious groups have joined their efforts on a common issue.