Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) unveiled a plan to cut $400 billion in federal spending, and included a controversial target. The Tea Party favorite proposed freezing the Veterans Affairs Department’s health care spending and cutting veterans’ disability benefits. Her plan sliced $4.5 billion from the VA and reduced 150,000 veterans’ disability compensation and the amount they receive in Social Security Disability Income. Veterans groups blasted the proposal as “totally out of step with America’s commitment to our veterans,” and as something that shows “contempt for American servicemembers’ sacrifices.” Democrats outside her state even began targeting Bachmann’s proposal; Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) wrote her a letter which said her ideas were a “giant step in the wrong direction.” After days of similar criticism, Bachmann has finally retreated and withdrew that part of her spending reduction proposal today:
“One point on my discussion list was a $4.5 billion proposal that would affect payments made to our veterans,” Bachmann said in a statement. “That has received a lot of attention and I have decided that it should be removed from consideration. The problem of government spending must be solved, but not on the backs of our nation’s war heroes. I have always been a proud supporter of the United States military and I continue to stand with our veterans. In the months ahead I look forward to working with our Veterans Service Organizations to ensure that we fulfill our commitments to those who sacrificed so much in their brave service for our country.”
While Bachmann’s decision to retract her proposal is laudable, there are other elements to her proposal that are just as punitive to large groups of Americans: for example, she proposes reducing Pell Grants for college students (along with a complete abolition of the Department of Education). She also wants to eliminate the Maternal and Child Health block grant.