Bush Administration underfunded veterans' health care by $2 billion. The Bush Administration's 2004 budget underfunded veterans' health care by nearly $2 billion. ("Vets Health Low on Bush's Priority List," The Hill, September 17, 2003; "Support for Troops Questioned," Washington Post, June 17, 2003; U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs, September 2002)
Bush Administration budget cuts force more than 200,000 veterans to wait for health care. Over 200,000 United States veterans have to wait more than six months for a medical visit because of health care shortages. ("VA Health Care Funding Alert," Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Press Release, January 31, 2003)
Bush Administration cuts $1.5 billion from military family housing. The Bush Administration cut $1.5 billion for military family housing, despite Department of Defense statistics showing that in 83,000 barracks and 128,860 family housing units across the country are below standard. ("Nothing But Lip Service," Army Times, June 30, 2003; "House Appropriations Committee Approves $59.2 Million for Ft. Hood," U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards Press Release, June 17, 2003)
Bush Republicans support millionaires instead of military veterans. Bush allies in Congress stopped efforts to scale back the tax cut for the nation's millionaires by just five percent - a loss of just $4,780 for the year - in order to restore this funding for military family housing. ("The Tax Debate Nobody Hears About," Washington Post, June 17, 2003)
For all of the military member's and staff out there. Let's not continue to listen to political redoric from party members that claim they are the party of the military. Read the facts and see what they have done for you lately.
Bush Administration proposal would end health care benefits for 173,000 veterans. More than 173,000 veterans across the country would be cut off from health care because of Bush Administration proposed budget cuts and its plan requiring enrollment fees and higher out-of-pocket costs. ("Support for Troops Questioned," Washington Post, June 17, 2003)
Bush Administration cuts $172 million allotted for educating the children of military personnel. The Bush Administration's 2004 budget cut $172 million of impact aid funding. Impact aid funding assists school districts by making up for lost local tax revenue from tax-exempt property, such as military bases. These education cuts will especially affect school-age children of troops serving in Iraq who reside on military bases. ("Support for Troops Questioned," Washington Post, June 17, 2003)
Bush Administration tax cut denies military families increase in child tax credit. The families of 262,000 children of military personnel do not receive the child tax credit increase because the plan fails to cover taxpaying families with incomes between $10,500 and $26,625. According to The Washington Post, the House version of the Bush Administration plan "wouldn't help many of those serving in Iraq." One solider who will not benefit is Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson, the soldier and single mother who was wounded twice in the same convoy as Jessica Lynch. ("Ex-POW's Family Accuses Army of Double Standard on Benefit," Washington Post, October 24, 2003; "The New Senate Child Credit Legislation - What It Does and Does Not Do," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 25, 2003; "Whose Child Is Left Behind," Children's Defense Fund, July 23, 2003
Bush Administration opposed plan to give National Guard and Reserve Members access to health insurance. Despite the war efforts of America's National Guard and Reserve Members, the Bush Administration announced in October 2003 its formal opposition to give the 1.2 million Guard and Reserve members the right to buy health care coverage through the Pentagon's health plan. One out of every five Guard members lacks health insurance. ("Bush Opposes Health Plan for National Guard," Gannett News Service, October 23, 2003)
Aug 14 2003
Washington, DC - The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who are already contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120- degree-plus heat.
Unless Congress and President Bush take quick action when Congress returns after Labor Day, the uniformed Americans in Iraq and the 9,000 in Afghanistan will lose a pay increase approved last April of $75 a month in "imminent danger pay" and $150 a month in "family separation allowances."
The Defense Department supports the cuts, saying its budget can't sustain the higher payments amid a host of other priorities. But the proposed cuts have stirred anger among military families and veterans' groups and even prompted an editorial attack in the Army Times, a weekly newspaper for military personnel and their families that is seldom so outspoken.
Congress made the April pay increases retroactive to Oct. 1, 2002, but they are set to expire when the federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30 unless Congress votes to keep them as part of its annual defense appropriations legislation.
Imminent danger pay, given to Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force members in combat zones, was raised to $225 from $150 a month. The family separation allowance, which goes to help military families pay rent, child care or other expenses while soldiers are away, was raised from $100 a month to $250.
Last month, the Pentagon sent Congress an interim budget report saying the extra $225 monthly for the two pay categories was costing about $25 million more a month, or $300 million for a full year. In its "appeals package" laying out its requests for cuts in pending congressional spending legislation, Pentagon officials recommended returning to the old, lower rates of special pay and said military experts would study the question of combat pay in coming months
January 28, 2005
During a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal (1-25-05), Pentagon official David Chu, in a mockery of the contribution of veterans, defended a new round of cuts by ironically describing funding for programs like veterans' education and job training, health care, pensions, Veterans Administration (VA) housing and the like as "hurtful" to national security.
Despite Republican pretense that spending increases for the VA budget under the Bush administration have been large, new spending has neither matched inflation over the same period, nor does it keep pace with growing need.
For example, as private sector health care costs skyrocket, veterans are turning more and more to the military's health insurance program, Tricare. Retired service members account for half of the people covered by Tricare, whereas just five years ago they accounted for only 40 percent. The Bush administration wants to find ways to stem this tide - none of which have anything to do with keeping private sector insurance affordable.
The slow rate of VA spending growth enforced by Bush and the congressional Republicans over the last four years won't cover growing deferred benefits, such as education, housing, retirement, health care and so on, promised to current service members or that are supposed to be available for new enlistees.
Slow spending growth isn't even the biggest immediate problem for vets. In the last two years, Bush ordered the closing of several VA hospitals in different parts of the country, pushing waiting lists for medical services for veterans as high as six months for about 230,000 vets. These closings followed in the wake of the congressional Republican's concerted drive in 2003 to cut $15 billion from VA spending over the next ten years.
And, since his razor-thin victory over Senator Kerry and his claim of "political capital" to rule as he sees fit, President Bush, according to an Associated Press story about a leaked White House Budget Office memo, plans to slash veterans' health care benefits by over $900 million and veteran's housing programs by $50 million in 2005 alone.
A Center for American Progress analysis says, "President Bush's 2005 budget would increase prescription drug co-pays from $7 to $15 for many veterans. In 2002, the co-pay went from $2 to $7." This co-pay increase would have the biggest impact on "near-poor" veterans whose incomes are just high enough to require that they pay the new premium.
In fact the Republicans are so desperate to cut veterans' benefits they have started attacking fellow Republicans who want to preserve current benefit levels. The Wall Street Journal reports that "the House Republican leadership took the unusual step of stripping New Jersey Rep. Christopher Smith of his chairmanship of the Veterans Affairs Committee" for pushing "so aggressively for veterans benefits that he at times threatened to oppose their spending plans - and President Bush's - unless more retiree benefits were included."
The Wall Street Journal attributes the fact that the Republicans haven't been able to cut more from the VA budget to the work of large veterans' lobby groups such as the Military Officers Association of America and other veterans groups like American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America who have consistently blocked cuts and have pushed for expanded programs and spending. Veterans groups have called for expanded VA hospital usage, larger retiree, disability, and survivor benefits, equitable pay for service members and better access to health care and health insurance for retirees and survivors.
The Bush administration and Congressional Republicans lament the fact that increasing entitlements promised to veterans have forced them to limit the growth of spending for questionable missile systems and other weapons programs. New funding for their illegal war on Iraq, they claim, is also in jeopardy as long as so much new military spending is set aside for veterans' programs.
These "compassionate conservatives" want to force American taxpayers to choose between the GOP's vision of "national security" and taking care of the people who have provided that national security. While the Republicans would like to see tax dollars handed over to the big defense that fund their election campaigns contractors - their version of an "entitlement program" - they will also have to deal with the 28 million people who sacrificed their time and lives in the US military.
The Pentagon plans to reduce deferred benefit packages and increase one-time cash awards for new enlistees in the hopes of reducing, even eliminating, long-term benefit programs. In other words, recruiters will ask young people to sign up with enticements of several thousand-dollar payments and forget to tell them that they could have more for college. Further, one Pentagon official said that they'd like to change existing benefit plans to cause older service members to retire early and thus have smaller pensions and fewer benefits.
Meanwhile, Republicans are blocking an effort to eliminate premium payments for some retirees who receive Medicare. Also, the reliance on reservists in Bush's war on Iraq to participate in longer terms of active duty without adequate increases in pay is a de facto pay cut that affects thousands of service members who share equally the risks of military service.
The Republicans' effort to cut veterans' benefits is just another sign of their callous attitude to the vast majority of people in this country. They feel that the very rich are entitled to hundreds of billions in tax cuts, but do not feel the least twinge of guilt in forcing veterans to forego the benefits and services promised in return for their sacrifices.
This week Bush announced his request to Congress for another $80 billion, bringing the total spent on his war to $280 billion. Critics of the new spending request see it as more money being thrown at a criminal invasion of Iraq based on lies about WMD and terrorist ties that also is draining national resources from programs that help people for a military machine that kills and tortures.
Opponents of Bush's war know that it has undermined national security making Americans the target of terrorism more than ever before. But Bush wants you to believe that the real threats to national security are retired veterans who need food, shelter, and medical care.
which does the Bush Administration choose, time and time again?
May 17th 2007
The Bush administration today threatened to a veto a House defense spending bill over a 3.5 percent pay raise for U.S. soldiers and a $40/month increase in benefits for military widows, among other provisions. The legislation passed the House today 397-27.
Troops don’t need bigger pay raises, White House budget officials said Wednesday in a statement of administration policy laying out objections to the House version of the 2008 defense authorization bill. […]
The slightly bigger military raises are intended to reduce the gap between military and civilian pay that stands at about 3.9 percent today. Under the bill, HR 1585, the pay gap would be reduced to 1.4 percent after the Jan. 1, 2012, pay increase.
Bush budget officials said the administration “strongly opposes” both the 3.5 percent raise for 2008 and the follow-on increases, calling extra pay increases “unnecessary.”
The White House says it also opposes:
– a $40/month allowance for military survivors, saying the current benefits are “sufficient”
December 19 2007
In a surprise move, the President has vetoed HR 1585, the 2008 Defense Authorization Act. This means that U.S. Military personnel will not receive the 3.5 percent raise in military pay authorized by the act on January 1. Instead, troops will receive a raise of 3.0 percent, which is an automatic adjustment for inflation required by previous law. . . In preventing the bill from becoming law, Bush used a tactic known as a "pocket veto." Under the U.S. Constitution, if a president does not sign a bill within 10 days after the bill is presented by Congress, it becomes law -- unless Congress is not in session at the time, in which case the bill dies. Both the House and the Senate adjourned December 19th, the same day the bill was sent to the President. Congress is not scheduled to return until January 15. The difference between a 3.0 percent pay raise and 3.5 percent pay raise are not great. For an E-5 with six years of service the difference is about $12 per month. For an E-8 with 16 years of service, it's about $19 per month, and for an O-3 with 10 years of service, it's about $25. per month.
– additional benefits for surviving family members of civilian employees
– price controls for prescription drugs under TRICARE, the military’s health care plan for military personnel and their dependents
House Minority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said today he was “shocked and disappointed in the President’s threat,” noting that Bush’s problems with the bill are over measures that benefit “the very people who sacrifice the most in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and who serve at home and overseas.”
UPDATE: VoteVets chairman and Iraq veteran Jon Soltz adds:
Believe me, even with the current benefits that get paid out by the Department of Defense and insurance that many troops buy into, those who lose spouses in Iraq aren’t sleeping in mounds of cash. The increase proposed by Democrats will mean a hell of a lot. At VoteVets.org, we’ve heard absolute horror stories on the type of cutbacks that widows and widowers have had to make because the government doesn’t provide enough to those who lose a loved one in war.
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