In her tea party-fueled quest to cut government spending and social programs, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has unveiled a plan to cut $400 billion in federal spending that includes freezing the Veterans Affairs Department’s health care spending and cuts veterans’ disability benefits. The Air Force Times reports her plan would slice $4.5 billion from the VA, including reducing 150,000 veterans’ disability compensation and the amount they receive in Social Security Disability Income.
A host of veterans groups slammed Bachmann’s plan:
–Veterans of Foreign War national commander Richard L. Eubank said, “The only discussion the VFW wants is to tell the congresswoman that her plan is totally out of step with America’s commitment to our veterans.” “No way, no how, will we let this proposal get any traction in Congress,” said Eubank. “There are certain things you do not do when our nation is at war, and at the top of that list is not caring for our wounded and disabled servicemen and women when they return home,” he said. “I want her to look those disabled veterans in the eye and tell them their service and sacrifice is too expensive for the nation to bear.”
–The National Veterans Foundation’s Rich Rudnick told ThinkProgress that Bachmann’s plan is “terribly misguided,” saying, “veterans benefits are minimal to begin with” and that Bachmann’s scheme would be a “real step backwards.” “Cutting back on the VA right now would be showing contempt for American servicemembers’ sacrifices,” Rudnick said in a phone interview this afternoon.
–Disabled American Veterans Washington Headquarters Executive Director David Gorman said Bachmann’s plan is “[s]uch an ill-advised proposal [it] is nothing short of heartless.” “It is unconscionable that while our nation is at war someone would even think of forcing our wounded warriors to sacrifice even more than they already have,” Gorman said. “Their injuries and disabilities were the result of their service to the nation, and our nation must not shirk its responsibilities toward them. How do you tell a veteran who has lost a limb that he or she has not sacrificed enough? Yet Rep. Bachmann wants to do just that.”
–Veterans for Common Sense executive director Paul Sullivan “said cutting veterans’ health care spending is an ill-advised move at a time when the number of veterans continues to grow as troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan.” “It is really astonishing to see this,” he said.
–VoteVets.org Chairman Ashwin Madia said, “Michelle Bachmann’s plan would turn veterans away from the care they’ve earned and deserve. Congress voted for two wars that have created many veterans that now need help, and we cannot – and will not – turn our backs to them. That’s bad policy that I think even a majority of Republican voters will stand squarely against.”
In a statement to the Air Force Times, Bachmann “said her plan is intended for discussion purposes as an example of ways to cut federal spending.”