It has become apparent over the last three years that Republicans talk about helping vets when they come home from combat, but in reality want to take it away. Since 2011 the GOP has tried unsuccessfully to cut benefits our disabled veterans desperately need.
Veterans have been fighting for what the government promised them after their service ends, since George Washington was President. If veterans hadn’t fought for their benefits in the past centuries, they wouldn’t have any benefits today. The fight continues to this day. Since President Obama won his first term the Republican Party has demonstrated just how vigilant they can be in taking away our veterans’ promised benefits.
Recently the right-wingers have backed off cutting veterans’ health care and concentrated on the failed attempt to get one of their own elected president. Soon thereafter, the GOP returned to the healthcare issue using the Affordable Care Act as a tool to extort and eventually shut down our government.
The irony here is that if they would use the ACA to provide veterans with much needed health care, they could save billions in taxes and give our vets better healthcare than they have now. There leaves no doubt that the GOP doesn’t want anyone to have health care.
The Republican Party is steadfast in its attempts to take away all veteran benefits. February of 2011, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) announced her plans to reign in federal spending, in part by cutting $4.5 billion from the Department of Veterans Affairs – specifically disabled veteran compensation. Bachmann’s vile attempt to cut so deeply into benefits our disabled veterans deserve, further evidenced the GOP’s willingness to stop at nothing when saving their rich benefactors tax money.
Shortly after Bachmann’s attempt to cut the $4.5 billion, Rep. Paul Ryan and the House of Representatives tried to end VA healthcare benefits for disabled vets. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cuts specified in “Option 35,” would end healthcare for over 130,000 veterans. Veterans who have illnesses caused by agent orange, for example, would not be able to get treatment.
The VA currently spends over $4 billion yearly on benefits to treat disabled veterans, despite co-pays intended to offset the expense. Ryan’s cuts are intended to shave $6 billion off the VA’s tab and $62 billion over the next 10 years. This means, in plain arithmetic, that Ryan wants to cut more money than the VA is receiving. It means Republicans want to take away all our veterans’ benefits and leave nothing in its place.
Richard Andrew is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.