Yesterday, the chairmen of President Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission released a report outlining their recommendations to reduce the budget deficit. The report has sparked a furious debate over what measures should be taken to reduce U.S. debt.
Today, ABC News’s George Stephanopolous interviewed Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) about the Commission’s recommendations. The senator repeatedly praised the proposals, distancing himself from other leading Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA), who has roundly condemned the deep cuts to social services advocated within them. At one point, Stephanopolous asked Conrad if he would vote for the proposals as written. The senator didn’t give a direct answer, but said that there’s no way to reduce the deficit in a way “that’s not controversial and difficult.” He then reminded the ABC host that today is Veterans’ Day, and that we should “think of what they sacrificed for this country. If some of us have to sacrifice a political career to get this country back on track then so be it. It has to be done”:
STEPHANOPOLOUS: Could you vote for these proposals?
CONRAD: Look, we’re going to have a chance to change them. But I am going to vote for proposals that do as much as this does to reduce the debt [...] There is no way doing it that’s not controversial and difficult. But you know today is Veterans’ Day. You think of what they sacrificed for this country. If some of us have to sacrifice a political career to get this country back on track then so be it. It has to be done.
STEPHANOPOLOUS: That is an admirable sentiment, sir, it doesn’t appear to be shared by other members of the Commission.
What Conrad failed to mention as he was invoking American veterans to praise the commission’s report is that it one of its recommendations could seriously hurt the veteran population. One of its proposals is to “establish co-pays in the VA medical system and change the co-pays and deductibles for military retirees that remain in that system,” meaning that it asks America’s veterans to shoulder a greater financial burden in order to utilize the VA system — in a way, moving it towards privatization, and undermining the principle that America will pay to take care of its warriors. (HT: DailyKos diarist Barbara Morrill).