Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Veterans not victims, part 7

The new liberal meme at both the state and federal level is that Republicans are cutting money for veterans.  How evil we Republicans are, right?  Except that the truth is that out of control government spending has put our state and federal governments in danger.  While conservatives have done their share of spending tax dollars with reckless abandon, the fact is that in the year 2011, conservatives are pushing to reign in spending, while liberals are uniformly pushing to continue spending and hope for a miracle somewhere in the future.

But the notion that we can't cut even a dime from veteran's benefits is false.  In order to solve this crisis, every American must help, every special interest group must take a hit, and every area of government spending has to be held accountable for every dollar it spends.  NIMBYism will be the death of us all.

The VA is no different, and should start now by stopping the fraud that pays out an estimated $24 million per year to phony soldiers.  From Military.com-

There are only 21 surviving POWs from the first Gulf War in 1991, the Department of Defense says. Yet the Department of Veterans Affairs is paying disability benefits to 286 service members it says were taken prisoner during that conflict, according to data released by VA to The Associated Press.

That's right, the Veteran's Administration that liberals will tell you needs every dollar we give it, can't even be bothered to verify that soldiers claiming to have be Prisoners of War are telling the truth.  Given the possibility of those numbers being off by one or two either way, it still means that the department of Veterans Affairs is paying benefits to at least 260 men and women who claim to have been POW's in the Gulf War but were not.  Even though the VA knows this to be the case, they refuse to act on it.  And it isn't just the Gulf War-

A similar discrepancy arises with Vietnam POWs. Only 661 officially recognized prisoners returned from that war alive - and about 100 of those have since died, according to Defense figures. But 966 purported Vietnam POWs are getting disability payments, the VA told AP. 

That is a total of over 680 phony POW's that the VA knows are likely fakes, yet they still refuse to act.  In fact, the VA is paying more phony POW's (687) than real POW's (565) from Vietnam and the Gulf War. At an estimated (minimum) $35,000 a year in benefits to former POW's, that is over $24 million a year in money that the VA knows it shouldn't be paying out.

Congresswoman Bachmann proposed a budget cut to VA funding a few weeks back, and took quite a bit of political flack for it.  While I disagree with the intent of her proposed cut (eliminating veterans from collecting disability pay from both the VA and social security, known as concurrent receipt), I applaud the fact that Bachmann had the courage to put VA funding on the table.

We all know what is coming if our country is to be saved from the looming fiscal nightmare.  Simply cutting non-defense discretionary spending will not solve our problems.  Social Security needs to be cut and reformed.  The Pentagon needs to learn how to do without expensive new weapons programs.  States need to be allowed to go bankrupt if they can't save themselves.  Keynesian economic theory needs to be understood for the failure that it is.

The looming financial collapse of this country is no longer an academic question.  If we don't change our spending ways, our country will default on its obligations and be forever damaged.  The men and women who wear and have worn the uniform of our country's military have a 200 plus year history of making personal sacrifices in order to save our country when crisis threatens.  This financial crisis will be no different.  We all sacrifice together, or we all watch our country fall, together.

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