President Obama announced today at Ft. Stewart in Georgia that he will sign an executive order to protect veterans, members of the military and their families from deceptive and predatory marketing practices by some for-profit higher educational institutions.
Mitt Romney’s campaign tried to get out front of the news today by issuing press releases suggesting that the president hasn’t done enough for the nation’s veterans. Campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul said:
“Under President Obama, all Americans have suffered from one of the worst job markets in recorded history — and our nation’s veterans have been among the hardest hit. With more than twelve percent of our most recent veterans struggling to find work and nearly a million veterans unemployed, it’s clear that we need to do more to grow our economy and ensure that those who fight for America can find a job when they return home.”
Saul didn’t expand on the “do more” part of her critique. The other press release titled “Mitt Romney Will Give Veterans A Chance to Find Good Jobs” links to a page on the campaign website that makes no mention of any plan for veterans.
And it appears that no plan exists on Romney’s campaign website to address various issues affecting the U.S. military — for example, veterans’ health care and unemployment or, as Obama addressed today, servicemembers’ education. The “Issues” page lists 23 separate issues Mitt Romney has apparently chosen to focus on during his presidential campaign and none is “Veterans” or “Military.”
It seems like the only outline of any plan Romney has for veterans is to, as he said in a speech to the VFW last August, use “billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency and bureaucracy from the defense budget” and “spend it to ensure that veterans have the care they deserve.” He mentioned no specifics.
Romney announced a Veterans Policy Advisory group back in October to “help to formulate policies that will ensure America keeps its commitments” to veterans but it is unclear what those policies are.
Romney has even praised President Obama’s veterans initiative to encourage companies to hire veterans, saying last November that “it’s a good idea.”
On Veterans Day last year, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee did float a plan to privatize the veterans health care system but he was forced to back away from the proposal after swift condemnation from veterans groups.
Romney has also said he supports Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal. That budget “would cut $11 billion from veterans spending.”
ThinkProgress asked the Romney campaign if the former Massachusetts governor has a detailed plan to address veterans issues but it did not respond before this post was published.
On the substance, it doesn’t seem like the Romney campaign has been paying much attention to what the Obama has been doing. CAP’s Lawrence Korb and Alex Rothman noted in February that “President Obama has made much progress in tackling veteran unemployment” while urging Congress to pass the president’s $6 billion vets jobs corps program. Last month, Obama announced a housing plan to help military vets who were victims of illegal foreclosures and First Lady Michelle Obama said earlier this month that companies had pledged 15,000 jobs for military spouses as part of the administration’s “Joining Forces” program.
Despite progress, there is more to be done. The unemployment rate for veterans was at 7.5 percent in March. The jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan war vets during the same month stood at 10.3 percent, “slightly better than in March 2011.”