Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Commander-In-Thief and His Merry Men

President Bush released his 2007 budget proposal this week, which included a 7% increase in defense spending, with billions poured into military operations overseas and programs here at home. Roy Blunt says the proposal seeks to "give our brave men and women in uniform the funding they need to carry out their mission. . . ."

Looking closer at the proposal, Blunt and Bush think our brave men and women in uniform only deserve funding if they're in battle, not if they're wounded, and certainly not if they're killed. And that's a national disgrace.

georgia10 at DailyKos provides an important analysis:

The military's health care program, TRICARE, supports some 9.2 million beneficiaries. Veterans from wars too soon forgotten depend on the program. From military families who have buried their husbands or wives, to those who dread a call in the middle of the night about those who currently serve, the program is designed to take care of those families--our families. First, Bush's plan would eventually cause some 600,000 retirees to be dropped from the military's healthcare program. Bush's budget also makes across-the-board premium increases to TRICARE retirees under the age of 65. Veterans will see an increase of 41% for single or family coverage within two years; senior enlisted and officer retirees will see increases of up to 204%. By 2009, healthcare premiums for our veterans will TRIPLE. (See PDF of TRICARE fee increases here).

Can our veterans afford it? Bush's budget also gives the military the smallest pay increase since 1994--a paltry 2.2%. The CEO President is clearly applying a Wal-Martesque framework to our national defense: rip off the ones doing the work because all that matters is that bottom line, right? That big, fat, bottom line.

Well, maybe not. If Bush really cared about reigning in DoD spending, why does he keep throwing billions to a governmental entity that has a record-keeping track record that would make Ken Lay blush? Bush rips off our veterans, but pours billions more into a Department of Defense that can't account for $2.3 trillion in transactions. Where is the outrage over rewarding an entity that cannot account for TWENTY FIVE percent of what it spends? That's trillions of dollars lining the pockets of war profiteers while the bravest of Americans are forced to pay out of their own pockets for body armor on the battlefield, and for their medicines when they come to battle the realities of their injuries at home. But hey, screw the troops, let's pour $84.2 billion for weapons systems, an 8% increase. Keep pouring that money into a black hole of unaccountability, Commander. As long as you show up with a turkey once a year in some cafeteria on a military base, that'll keep the troops happy.

Go read the whole thing. And then tell Roy Blunt, Kit Bond and Jim Talent what you think.

Our veterans deserve better than George W. Bush, Roy Blunt, and Jim Talent. Remember that come November. Urge Jim Kreider to challenge Roy Blunt.