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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Cutting the Federal Budget on the Backs of Vets

Yesterday, I posted about how veterans are getting screwed by our 'God bless the troops' president. There's the craphole that's building 18 at Walter Reed. There's Bush's cuts to veterans' benefits, just as the number of wounded vets is overwhelming the system -- got to pay for those tax cuts somehow. The president has his priorities and 'support the troops' isn't among them. To Bush and his supporters, 'support the troops' means making sure they keep fighting. When it comes to giving them anything beyond what they need to do that, it's more like 'screw the troops.'

The more you look into this stuff, the more egregious the treatment of veterans is shown to be. At a press conference, Tony Snow said that Bush was aware of conditions at Walter Reed before the Washington Post exposed them. I guess they weren't important enough to do anything about.

QUESTION: You responded to me a moment ago that the administration was aware of this before the articles appeared in the paper.

SNOW: That is my understanding.

But, again, this is something that’s an action item over at the Department of Defense and in particular the Department of the Army. I am not fully briefed on the activities of who knew what, when. And I suggest…

QUESTION: Was the president aware of it? Was the White House aware of it?

SNOW: I am not certain when this — when we first became aware of it.

Now, the president certainly has been aware of the conditions in the wards where he has visited, and visited regularly. And we also have people from Walter Reed regularly over to the White House as the guests, sometimes in fairly large numbers.

It's hard to tell when Snow's pushing BS and when he's telling the truth. He might just have reflexively lied to make the president seem less ignorant, then realized he just took the wrong fork in the road. He began backpedaling on the statement immediately.

Someone should ask Snow if the president knows that disabled vets are being screwed out of benefits.

Army Times:

In 2001, 10 percent of soldiers going through the medical retirement process received permanent disability benefits. In 2005, with two wars raging, that percentage dropped to 3 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office. Reservists dropped from 16 percent to 5 percent.

Soldiers go to VA to try for more benefits, but the department had a staggering 400,000-case backup on new claims in fiscal 2006, according to VA.

Kind of looks like they're already cutting benefits, doesn't it? And doing it through the back door by denying benefits where they were once paid. A 7% reduction in payouts is huge -- for reservists it's 11%. Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

Claire McCaskill and Barack Obama, both dems, have introduced legislation to require more frequent inspections of hospitals like Walter Reed, while Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Patty Murray (D-WA) "wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates today demanding an inspector general's investigation into living conditions for the returning soldiers at Walter Reed." Had Bush known about conditions at Walter Reed, as Tony Snow asserted, he could've called for both actions and got them.

Let me go back to a question I asked in my previous post -- which is more important, tax cuts or vets?

When it comes to Bush's budget priorities, we all know the answer to that.


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