Monday, February 12, 2007
Bush to Cut Veterans Benefits AGAIN
Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy has, once again, submitted a plan to cut health care benefits for veterans. Remember that this is the guy who said "help is on the way" to crowds of military personnel while he was on the 2000 campaign trail. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration plans to cut funding for veterans' health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system. Bush is using the cuts, critics say, to help fulfill his pledge to balance the budget by 2012.
Whoa! This fool took Clinton's surplus and, through the careless combination of irrational spending and irresponsible tax cuts for people like Bill Gates, the result was budget deficits that would have made even Ronald Reagan cringe, and NOW he's concerned about balancing the budget?
After an increase sought for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly — by more than 10 percent in many years — White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.
The proposed cuts are unrealistic in light of recent VA budget trends — its medical care budget has risen every year for two decades and 83 percent in the six years since Bush took office — sowing suspicion that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better.
"Either the administration is willingly proposing massive cuts in VA health care," said Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, chairman of the panel overseeing the VA's budget. "Or its promise of a balanced budget by 2012 is based on completely unrealistic assumptions."
Edwards said that a more realistic estimate of veterans costs is $16 billion higher than the Bush estimate for 2012. In fact, even the White House doesn't seem serious about the numbers. It says the long-term budget numbers don't represent actual administration policies. Similar cuts assumed in earlier budgets have been reversed.
All told, the VA expects to treat about 5.8 million patients next year, including 263,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House budget office, however, assumes that the veterans' medical services budget — up 83 percent since Bush took office and winning a big increase in Bush's proposed 2008 budget — can absorb a 2 percent cut the following year and remain essentially frozen for three years in a row after that.
"It's implausible," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said of the budget projections. The White House made virtually identical assumptions last year — a big increase in the first year of the budget and cuts for every year thereafter to veterans medical care. Now, the White House estimate for 2008 is more than $4 billion higher than Bush figured last year.
And the VA has been known to get short-term estimates wrong as well. Two years ago, Congress had to pass an emergency $1.5 billion infusion for veterans health programs for 2005 and added $2.7 billion to Bush's request for 2006. The VA underestimated the number of veterans, including those from Iraq and Afghanistan, who were seeking care, as well as the cost of treatment and long-term care.
The budget for hospital and medical care for veterans is funded for the current year at $35.6 billion, and would rise to $39.6 billion in 2008 under Bush's budget. That's about 9 percent. But the budget faces a cut to $38.8 billion in 2009 and would hover around that level through 2012.
The cuts come even as the number of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is expected to increase 26 percent next year. In Bush's proposal to balance the budget by 2012, he's assuming that spending on domestic agency operating budgets will increase by about 1 percent each year.
Simply put, this is shameful behavior. For all the talk about the supposed upcoming non-binding resolution that says Congress supports the troops, but not the idiotic "surge" Preznit 31% Approval Rating wants, and, at least according to Designated Liar, Tony Snow, its potential harmful effect on troop morale, does it not make sense to examine this issue in the same light? If I was in the military, I'd sure as hell be pissed off at the cavalier way this little emperor disregards those he has sent into battle (forget about whether or not you agree with why they have been sent to Iraq). It seems to me that every bad decision this administration has made, and is continuing to make, would have a much more negative effect on troop morale than anything Tony Snow claims in in this resolution.