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Despite His Votes To Cut Veterans Funding, McCain Says We Owe Vets ‘A Debt We Can Never Repay’

By Ali Frick  

"Despite His Votes To Cut Veterans Funding, McCain Says We Owe Vets ‘A Debt We Can Never Repay’"

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Today, Sen. John McCain spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, MO. He spoke at length about the sacrifice paid by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, acknowledging “how little has been asked of others compared to their service” and declaring that the nation owes veterans “a debt that we can never fully repay.”

He also said that veterans should have access to “the highest quality health…care in the world” upon returning:

As President, I will do everything in my power to ensure that those who serve today and those who have served in the past have access to the highest quality health, mental health and rehabilitative care in the world. The disgrace of Walter Reed must not be forgotten. … Whatever our commitments to veterans cost, we will keep them, as you have kept every commitment to us. The honor of a great nation is at stake.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/04/mcvets.320.240.flv]

Not only has he refused to support the 21st Century GI Bill, which the Veterans of Foreign Wars endorsed last June, he has consistently voted against increasing funding for the Veterans’ Administration, which oversees all medical care for veterans:

– Voted AGAINST an amendment providing $20 billion to the VA’s medical facilities. [5/4/06]

– Voted AGAINST providing $430 million to the VA for outpatient care “and treatment for veterans,” one of only 13 senators to do so. [4/26/06]

– Voted AGAINST increasing VA funding by $1.5 billion by closing corporate loopholes. [3/14/06]

– Voted AGAINST increasing VA funding by $1.8 billion by ending “abusive tax loopholes.” [3/10/04]

Voted AGAINST FOR a $650 million increase in veterans’ medical care funding. [8/1/01]

Though McCain has derided progressive universal health care plans as “a government takeover,” he is mum on the success of the VA, a government-run, integrated approach that, as Paul Krugman put it, is “one of the few clear American success stories in the struggle to contain health care costs.”

McCain’s zero-regulation, every-man-for-himself approach to health insurance would in effect “dismantle” the VA — what Krugman calls “a completely wrongheaded approach to health care.”

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