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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

 
Republican fiscal and military hawks screw veterans. How typical.

by digby

This truly surprises me and I didn't think anything the Republicans could do would surprise me at this point. Military retirees are among the staunchest GOP supporters in the land. And they are screwing them.

This post from Angelajean at Daily Kos tells the sad tale. Everyone agrees that the cuts to the military retiree benefits in the recent budget deal must be restored. (This was the Republican "compromise" you'll recall, which obviously would not stand since neither Republicans or Democrats backed it. Only Republicans wanted the cuts to federal workers pensions so naturally, they will remain.) In any case,  Republicans are ostentatiously supporting the repeal of these cuts. Well, except for one little thing:
Military families and veterans have been placing their bets on a different bill, one that offers not only a fix for military retirees but other solutions for many veterans issues. That would be Senator Bernie Sander's S 1950. Senator Harry Reid has placed it on the fast track and yesterday we read that the bill would be ready for a vote on the floor of the Senate on Monday.

But Republicans are already lining up in opposition:
The GOP alternative is being led by panel ranking member Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C) as Republicans are balking at the way Sanders would pay for his $24 billion measure.

“I don’t think that’s a real offset,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters. “Because we’re withdrawing from Iraq [and Afghanistan], we’re not going to spend the money, so getting credit for money you don’t spend is not an offset.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) agreed. “I’d rather have a bill that we can pay for,” he said.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said he was only opposed because of the offset.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) raised concerns about the funding issue, but said he also had problems with some of the provisions in the legislation.
Isn't that special?  They'll probably get it and then take credit for the restoration and all the military families will reward them with their continued loyalty.

And the hypocrisy is overwhelming:
Let me tell you a little something about this offset the Republicans seem so concerned about. It is a funding measure that Congress agreed upon years ago - it was a specific answer to a specific problem. Congress couldn't agree on a way to pay for two wars but they knew they had to find some solution. It was the Overseas Contingency Operations fund and it allowed Congress to pay for two wars for more than 12 years without ever having to find an actual way to pay for the wars. That's right - it is borrowed money. It was a work around and it has enabled Congress to spend funds that did not exist for more than 12 years. 
Well isn't it just like a conservative Republican to agree to that kind of spending deficit as long as it pays for war?
Yes it is.

Update: here's a win-win for you:
A new break in the GOP’s debt-ceiling strategy emerged at a private lunch on Wednesday, where House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) encouraged his allies to consider linking a restoration of recently cut military benefits with a one-year extension of the federal government’s borrowing authority.

According to two people present at the lunch and two others familiar with the session, Boehner said the maneuver would likely force Democrats to join with Republicans and also win support from conservatives, who have been upset about changes to the military’s cost-of-living benefits, which were adjusted in December.

Boehner did not endorse the idea, the sources added, but he did urge the group of more than a dozen of his loyalists to talk up the possible play with colleagues. And if the idea gains momentum, he is open to potentially bringing it to the floor, they said.

“He was very warm to it, seeing it as something that can get us out of this fix,” said one attendee, who like the others requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “I think this could be a way for us to get through the debt ceiling, but the speaker is going to spend the next few days taking the temperature of his members.”

If it's really that simple, then let's get 'er done!


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