Thursday, May 29, 2008

Troop Retention is Key Issue in G.I. Bill of Rights

John McCain's being smeared for his position on the new G.I. Bill of Rights, but the law, if enacted as currently proposed, would hinder troop retention, according to Political Perceptions:

Twice, maybe three times a year, the people you send to Washington go out of their way to show how much they care about those in uniform.

Democrats in charge or Republicans in charge, the cycle is the same.

Right before Memorial Day, July Fourth and Veterans Day, the calendar prods the politicians to do something before they go home to march in parades, visit VA hospitals or speak at commemorations for the local war dead.

Whether there’s anything fresh for them to talk about depends entirely on whether the party in power schedules votes in time to give them patriotic talking points.

Before this Memorial Day recess week, the Democrats set up votes that could demonstrate that when they’re in charge, they line up behind the veterans.

To an appropriation needed to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they added what amounts to the G.I. Bill on steroids, offering a lot more government-paid college tuition to veterans. The bill is a legislative combo platter that Democrats hope will fortify their down-ballot candidates while giving Republican presidential candidate John McCain indigestion.

Sen. McCain prefers a different version, arguing that incentives to join the volunteer military should be designed with troop retention in mind. As it stands, the Democrats’ bill would reward three months of active duty with 40% funding for in-state colleges and universities. That would go up to 50% for those with six months of active duty, and full tuition for those with 36 months of active duty. The version Sen. McCain favors would offer maximum college benefits of $2,000 a month for those who have served at least 12 years.

The Arizona senator’s own war service doesn’t exempt him from criticism on this one. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called him “one of the few senators of either party who oppose this bill because he thinks it’s too generous” — a characterization that just barely stands up to fact-checking.

The McCain camp's hitting hit back against Obama, pointing to the Illinois Senator's own votes against funding for military veterans:

Responding to Sen. Barack Obama’s assertions that he is shortchanging veterans by opposing a Democratic plan to expand education aid, Sen. John McCain’s camp is depicting the Illinois senator as a lawmaker who has already voted against a key war funding measure that would have improved health services for veterans.

On May 12, 2008, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds singled out Obama’s May 24, 2007 vote against a fiscal 2007 emergency war spending measure to support ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying it violated Obama’s oft-stated dictum that it would be irresponsible to vote against funding troops in the field.

“It is absurd for Barack Obama to question John McCain’s commitment to America’s veterans when Obama himself voted against our nation’s veterans and troops in the field during a time of war,” Bounds said.
How's that for far left-wing hypocrisy on veterans benefits.