Friday, May 30, 2008

Defending The G. I. Bill

Putting the Republicans on Defense Over G.I. Bill

Carl Hulse, NYT:

As John Adler, a promising Democratic congressional candidate in New Jersey, ended an appearance at a fund-raiser on Thursday with Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, one guest posed a question: Would Congress override any presidential veto of a new plan to pay the college costs of post-Sept. 11 veterans?

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The measure not only reminds voters of the human costs of the war in Iraq, they say, but it gets them thinking about the nation’s colossal investment there during difficult economic times here. And it can reinforce the sense that the Bush administration has sometimes dropped the ball when it comes to caring for returning members of the armed forces, i.e. Walter Reed.

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Mr. Webb, a veteran and former Navy secretary, made the bill his calling card after arriving in the Senate in 2007. At times, he seems uncomfortable with the way it is being used to draw a political dividing line, with him on one side and Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate and fellow Vietnam veteran, on the other. And some Democrats were initially skeptical. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi seized on the idea and Democrats moved ahead.

Under the Webb plan, anyone who has served at least three years on active duty would be eligible for what amounts to four years at a state college along with help with housing and books. The overall cost is estimated at $52 billion over 10 years.

Republicans recognize the political dangers posed by the bill. Before leaving for Memorial Day, 25 Republican senators broke with the White House and their leadership to back the proposal as part of a larger spending package. Thirty-two House Republicans supported it as well, even though the House version was paid for by a new income tax on very affluent Americans.

In addition, Congressional Republicans have come up with an alternative to the Webb measure that has the blessing of President Bush, the Pentagon and Mr. McCain. It is less expansive than the Webb plan, would be more generous to those who stay in the military longer and would allow those who do their duty to share the education rewards with spouses and children – a concept known as transferability. Supporters of the alternative fear the Webb plan is so enticing it will hurt their efforts to retain experienced military personnel they have invested in through training.

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Yet many Republicans concede they feel boxed in by the veterans proposal. They say it is hard to explain why they are not willing to invest $50 billion in college aid for returning combat troops when the nation is spending at least that much rebuilding Iraq. House Republicans also feel their brethren in the Senate hung them out to dry by embracing the measure after so many in the House rejected it, leaving them open to charges that they are standing in the way of new help for veterans.

Democrats jumped at the opportunity.

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Republican groups are pushing back.

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But Democrats have managed to confound the opposition on what is typically a signature Republican issue. In what already looms as a tough year, it should be doubly troubling for Republicans to find themselves on defense over defense.

Article cross-posted* at HuffPo.

Read/download No Where to Go But Back
and other songs *by Max And The Marginalized:

There’s an upward trajectory that they promised
But to be frankly honest, I must’ve misunderstood
‘Cause they’re taking double the years that they’re giving
Waving around yellow ribbons, but they’re not making good
So, can you help me figure it out?
I can’t tell which side they’re on
when they talk out of either side of their mouths

So pay no attention to the signals they send
It’s not what you do, it’s what you spend
If you intend to hold up your end of the pact
And I know there’s a carrot stuck on a stick
It keeps getting longer they keep getting sick
A hundred or so world’s away from the inside track
Because there’s nowhere to go but back

Stabilize America first

Billings Outpost News:

Let’s see if I have it right.

Middle class families can’t send their kids to college because federal loans are cut. Our bridges are collapsing, roads and schools are crumbling, 50 million Americans are without healthcare. Horrendous numbers of home mortgages are in foreclosure, our three very biggest banks failed but for taxpayer bailouts. More to go! Bush administration told us “deficits don’t matter. President Reagan proved that!” Try that on your budget!

Republicans cut our Veterans Administration budget so up to 15,000 permanently maimed vets have been discharged with no benefits or medical care Our surging military is paying $24 million weekly to Iraqi insurgents if they point out other insurgents.

The Bush administration said oil revenues would pay for Iraqi reconstruction but so far it’s Uncle Sam. Seventy-seven percent of Americans disapprove of Bush’s war, but the $3 billion a week war just goes on and on. Are we nuts?

Sen. John McCain, who wants to be president, says we may need to be there 100 years to stabilize Iraq. I say, stabilize America first.

We are edging into the very black abyss of Depression. Get out of personal debt quickly if you can. You may have less than a year. Hurry!

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