Sudden Republican Concern for Vet Benefits 'Just Happened'

Monday, March 03, 2008 at 08:16 PM

Far be it from me to question the motives or veracity of the 12 honorable Republicans on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, but isn't it just a little too coincidental that, for the first time since GW Bush ascended to the throne, they're asking for a bigger VA budget than the Dems on the committee are requesting?

Yes, for seven consecutive years, the Repubs on this committee found no problems whatsoever with GWB's budget request for the VA. Now, with GWB a national laughingstock, the Dems in control of congress, and voters in the primaries indicating that they are looking to spank the crap out of the GOP, these now-minority committee members have suddenly asked for not only more than GWB requested, but more than the Democratic majority wants:
Republican members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee — who for seven years have defended the Bush administration’s funding requests for veterans programs — now want to add $5.8 billion to the White House request for 2009.

The budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs requested by the 12 Republicans is about $2 billion more than the VA budget recommendations from the Democratic majority.

...

[Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind) spokesman Brian Lawrence said the Republicans did not prepare the budget with the goal of asking for more than Democrats did. The bigger budget “just happened when we applied money to all of the priorities that we had,” Lawrence said.

Steve Buyer, the Republican leader of the committee, issued a press release. of course, captioned Veterans’ Committee Republicans Recommend Reasonable Increases for VA. He closes the release with this gem of disingenuousness:
It is our goal to work with the committee’s majority members as well as the members of the Budget Committee to put forth a budget that will honor and enhance the lives of our nation’s veterans, while remaining fiscally responsible to the American taxpayer.
A budget that will "honor and enhance the lives of our nation's veterans." Unlike in past years, when we were the majority and able to ensure such honor if we wanted.

At the very least, I think it's safe to assume that, if these guys really thought that the VA needed this amount of money, they would have thought the VA needed it before this year. Starting on, oh, say 2003, or 2004 at the latest, would have been a damn good bet.

Is there anything lower than playing politics with the needs and health of the very people you're voting to send to war, to keep at war, to serve over and over again in a war zone, and to serve longer in that war zone than anyone had any moral right to ask of them?

Here's hoping that the voters in the states that these 12 honorable men represent them, take them at their honorable word. And then "just happen" to vote the scoundrels out of office at the first electoral opportunity.

For the record, there are 13 Republicans on the committee: Steve Buyer of Indiana, Cliff Stearns of Florida, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Richard H. Baker of Louisiana, Henry E. Brown, Jr of South Carolina, Jeff Miller of Florida, John Boozman of Arkansas, Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, Michael R. Turner of Ohio, Brian P. Bilbray of California, Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Gus M. Bilirakis of Florida, and Vern Buchanan of Florida.

I don't know which one took no part in the recommendation, or why.