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Veterans' News

What does ‘reducing government’ and ‘runaway spending’ mean for veterans and the elderly? A political rant.

Over the past year that I have had the pleasure and privilege of contributing to the River Journal I have tried my best to write of things that would be germane, current and­—most importantly—interesting to area veterans. I’ve spent a few months writing about VSOs—with mixed success if reader’s comments are considered—and a few more months focused on insidious and deadly diseases like mesothelioma. I have tried, again with mixed success, to keep my focus on information and avoid having my opinions color my pieces. Recent events and the media coverage that they have incurred have lead me—almost forced me—to deviate from that position. Today was the straw that broke the camel’s back. 

Today the U.S. House GOP released their latest manifesto titled, “Pledge to America”. Those of you over the age of 20 may remember the last time the GOP issued a similar manifesto. That one was called, “Contract with America” and lead to the GOP taking control of the Congress in 1996 which lead to the election of G.W. Bush in 2000. Thus began a disastrous descent into fiscal chaos that culminated in the near collapse of our financial system in late 2008.

After downloading and reading the entire document (including several pages of glossy photos of the House GOP leadership at various functions) I’ve come to one overall conclusion: Whoever wrote this has a great future as a fiction writer. After sorting through the catch phrases, jingoistic rhetoric, fabrications, historical revisionism, distortions and out-and- out lies we find at base the same old tired crap that they have been dishing out since Reagan. Their main themes appear to be “Reducing the Size of Government” and “Stopping Runaway Spending.” Let’s take a look at both of these themes with an eye to how it will play out for veterans and older Americans (many of whom are also veterans—I’m definitely both).

Ever since Reagan’s administration the term ‘reducing the size of government’ has been a code phrase that meant eviscerating social safety net programs that the oldest and least affluent depend on. The other side of ‘reducing the size of government’ is to loosen restrictions on financial institutions and manufacturers. And, at the same time, reducing the government’s ability to oversee the operations by reducing the number of inspectors in every area by underfunding every agency charged with keeping an eye on business. Does it surprise anyone that we’ve had more food and safety related recalls during and after the Bush administration due to letting ‘business’ police itself? Does the expression the fox is guarding the henhouse mean anything to you?

As to its effects on veterans one of the proposals in the plan to reduce the size of government is to privatize VA hospitals and provide governmental subsidies. Now there is a sure-fire winner—for the for-profit health care providers. Currently the VA has administrative costs of 0.2 percent of their annual budget (according to the CBO). It is estimated (again the CBO) that the administrative costs for privatized VA care word be 20 percent or more. All that means to me is that somebody somewhere will be paying more for less. I’ve yet to hear any area veteran complaining about the services they’ve received at the VA Centers. [Please let me know if you have a gripe that hasn’t been resolved to your satisfaction.] I cannot conceive of any real benefit to veterans if the system was privatized. The same ideas exist for Medicare and TriCare. If that is what they—the GOP—means by reducing the size of government, count me out. I’ll stick with what I’ve earned after a 21-year career in the Navy. I like the fact that my prescriptions cost me less out of pocket through TriCare than they would through Medicare—which is why I didn’t buy into the Bush-era drug plan. [Talk about a scam run on the American people, that one was a biggie.] All that entire plan did was make my pharmaceutical stocks go up. 

Onwards to Runaway Spending: I didn’t hear one single, solitary, GOP House or Senate member screaming about runaway spending while we were busily dumping billions into a quagmire called ‘Iraq’ during the Bush years. But it is ‘runaway spending’ when this administration tries to extend unemployment benefits to out-of-work Americans and tries to extend loans to small businesses to get some of those unemployed back to work. Another prime example of ‘runaway spending’ is trying to help America become competitive with the rest of the world in the fields of alternative energy production. Anything that this administration has tried to do to dig out of this morass created by GOP policies over the past 30 years has been blocked or denigrated in one way or another. It took this administration to recognize the simple fact that all those veterans the Bush years created would need treatment and education if they were to be re-integrated back into the mainstream of the American workforce. Cancelling monies for these efforts are also on the GOP’s agenda to stop ‘Runaway Spending’. 

The GOP plan has long been to reduce the size of government to the “point where it can be drowned in a bathtub” (Grover Norquist) and let businesses self police. I for one take great comfort in thinking that someone somewhere is trying to limit the excesses, greed, malfeasance, corruption and deceitfulness that is rampant in far too many businesses. I further believe that any working stiff, retired serviceman, veteran or small businessman (I mean real small businessmen running a company, shop or store with less than 50 employees) that thinks the GOP has their best interests at heart is delusional. I can find no evidence that any member of the GOP currently serving in Congress has ever done a thing for those earning under $60,000 per year. If any area veteran can produce documentation that refutes that, please share it with me and other readers.

With elections fast approaching there is a great fear and associated anger rampant in the country. Most of this fear and anger has been created and amplified by the leadership of the GOP and their media mouthpieces. With nothing new to tell the electorate the GOP has attempted to demonize the current administration and legislature by shouting lies loudly and repeatedly while doing everything in their power legislatively to thwart any and all efforts to put the Ship of State upright again. I call the GOP’s tactics ‘The Goebbels Plan’. Josef Goebbels was Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda and is the one credited with the idea that if a big enough lie is told often enough the people will believe it. A look at recent polls seems to indicate that the GOP is being successful in this cynical ploy. I sincerely hope that they are proven wrong and that ‘We, The People’ can cut through the crap to the truth. 

Regardless of your views please be sure and vote on November 2. I still believe that the American people will vote in their best interests. That is not what the GOP wants or expects.

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Author info

Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

Tagged as:

Politics, veterans, health care, Pledge to America, VA Hospitals, Iraq War

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