In a speech to the American Legion today, Mitt Romney leveled fresh criticism against President Obama, accusing his administration of cutting the benefits of veterans who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and going so far as to call plans to cut the Veterans Affairs Department budget a “crisis.”:
Romney charged that the defense budget cuts would affect services for veterans, including the men and women returning from conflict overseas who need psychological counseling. Romney invoked the rising number of suicides – “This is a crisis,” he declared – as he sharpened his attack on the Obama administration’s proposed spending cuts.
But Romney’s claim — that veterans’ care will be negatively impacted by sequestration — is not grounded in reality. Earlier this month, the White House announced that virtually all of the Veterans Affairs Department budget will be exempt from mandatory cuts if and when sequestration goes into effect in January 2013. The only exception, according to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, would be possible cuts to administrative costs. That means health care, vocational, and education services will remain fully funded while cuts are made elsewhere within the Department of Defense, despite Mitt Romney’s claims to the contrary.
Of course, if Romney were actually concerned about the possibility of losing funding for the Veterans Affairs Department, he probably wouldn’t have embraced Paul Ryan or his budget, which could lead to reductions in veterans’ benefits.