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Bachmann wants to cut veteran’s benefits

by The Big E on January 29, 2011 · 1 comment

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) released her budget plan just before the State of the Union address to coincide with her Tea Party rebuttal she gave afterwards.  I looked her budget plan over, but missed this amid the other disastrous ideas she proposed:  she wants to cut veteran’s benefits during a time in which we have a tremendous number of vets needing the VA.  Here’s the details on how she proposes saving $4.5 billion:

Cap increases in Department of Veterans Affairs health care spending, and reduce disability compensation to account for SS disability payments. Reduce Veterans’ Disability Compensation to account for Social Security Disability Insurance payments.

Considering all the troops needing ongoing medical attention from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, this is a mind-bogglingly stupid idea.  We, the American people, made an agreement with our troops — if you put your life on the line for us, we will take care of you.  

Veteran’s groups are lining up to defeat Bachmann’s proposal.

“It’s disappointing that Representative Bachmann targeted disabled veterans for cuts instead of either of the wars that have created so many disabled veterans,” Ashwin Madia, Interim Chair of VoteVets.org.  ”If we’re truly going to look at responsible ways of balancing the budget, the Pentagon’s budget and spending in Iraq and Afghanistan must be on the table.”

“No way, no how, will we let this proposal get any traction in Congress,” said Richard L. Eubank, the national commander of the 2.1 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries.

The bottom line is Michele Bachmann doesn’t give a crap about our troops.

This all stems from her opposition to raising the debt ceiling.  She never considers the impact of her proposals on real people.  Details after the fold…
Veteran’s groups provide the analysis of the damage this preposterous proposal:

Her list of cuts doesn’t explain the impact of freezing veterans’ health care funding, but the Congressional Budget Office said in a report issued in October that health care costs have been quickly increasing. VA’s health care budget was $44 billion in 2009, $48 billion in 2010 and is at $52 billion this year. The report forecasts a health care budget of $69 billion or higher by 2020 if trends continue, the report estimates.

Bachmann’s idea of cutting costs by reducing veterans’ disability compensation by the amount received in Social Security Disability Income is not new. The proposal, which would affect more than 150,000 veterans, has long been on a list of possible budget options prepared by the Congressional Budget Office, which describes the option as a way to “eliminate duplicate payment of public compensation for a single disability.”

The average SSDI benefit is $12,800 a year, according to CBO
(Air Force Times)

So if I understand this correctly … by a rather complicated system, 150K vets get an average of $13K per year in compensation for a wound they received in service to their country.  I personally, don’t give a **** that this is a possible budget cut — the men and women who are disabled because of a wound received while in the service deserve adequate compensation and this should not be on the table.

Furthermore …

It’s been hard enough overturning the Bush Administration’s policies.  Like preventing PTSD soldiers from getting properly diagnosed and treated.  Like preventing soldiers with traumatic brain injuries (the #1 injury our soldiers get) from getting properly diagnosed and treated.

Bachmann has probably already forgotten about the horrific conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center if she even cared to begin with.  This problem occurred because the Bush Administration wanted to keep the VA budget low despite the dramatic increase in wounded vets.  Cuts right now as the Obama Administration is attempting to rebuild the VA after Bush’s neglect is stupendously short-sighted.

Bachmann, like most Republicans, never play out their proposals to see how they affect real people.  And it’s disgraceful to propose such egregious cuts to those who’ve put their lives on the line for us.

Here’s a email press release statement from the VFW:

VFW Will Defeat Bachmann Plan

WASHINGTON (January 28, 2011) – America’s oldest and largest major combat veterans’ organization announced it will do everything within its power to defeat a plan introduced by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to cut $4.5 billion from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“No way, no how, will we let this proposal get any traction in Congress,” said Richard L. Eubank, the national commander of the 2.1 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries.

On her website, the three-term congresswoman lists more than $400 billion in suggestions to cut federal spending. The VA suggestion would cap increases to VA healthcare spending, and reduce disability compensation to account for Social Security Disability Insurance payments – in other words, an offset. She says her plan is intended to generate discussion.

“The only discussion the VFW wants is to tell the congresswoman that her plan is totally out of step with America’s commitment to our veterans,” said Eubank, a retired Marine and Vietnam combat veteran from Eugene, Ore.

“There are certain things you do not do when our nation is at war, and at the top of that list is not caring for our wounded and disabled servicemen and women when they return home,” he said. “I want the congresswoman to join us in a tour of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and Poly Trauma Center the next time she’s in her home district to witness firsthand the great work the VA does every day to heal their wounds and ease their pain. Then I want her to look those disabled veterans in the eye and tell them their service and sacrifice is too expensive for the nation to bear.

“The day this nation can’t afford to take care of her veterans is the day this nation should quit creating them,” said Eubank.

JacobGrippen January 29, 2011 at 5:15 am

and he has already begun to.

A release from his office:

   Today, Congressman Walz released the following statement in response to Representative Bachmann’s plan to cut benefits for those who have bravely served our country in uniform.
   ”We have to have an aggressive, long-term plan to tackle our nation’s debt, but attempting to balance the budget on the backs of veterans who have risked life and limb in service of our country is unacceptable. I believe we can and should work together to find reasonable and common-sense cuts that will reduce our debt, but as a generation of warriors returns from two wars, our most solemn responsibility is to make sure they have the care and benefits they have earned.”
   Walz is the highest ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress. He served in the National Guard for 24 years, retiring as a Command Sergeant Major. Before retiring, Walz served overseas in Italy with his battalion in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Reporting from Blue Stem Prairie:
http://www.bluestemprairie.com

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