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Tilting at Windmills

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January 28, 2011

BACHMANN EYES CUTS TO VETERANS' BENEFITS.... As a rule, policymakers are reluctant to cut veterans' benefits, especially during two wars. Even those most eager to slash spending tend to make clear that veterans would be unaffected.

Michele Bachmann, however, is special.

Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has unveiled a plan for cutting $400 billion in federal spending that includes freezing Veterans Affairs Department health care spending and cutting veterans' disability benefits.

Her proposed VA budget cuts would account for $4.5 billion of the savings included in the plan, posted on her official House of Representatives website.

Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, said cutting veterans' health care spending is an ill-advised move at a time when the number of veterans continues to grow as troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Sullivan said he finds it difficult to see how VA could freeze health care costs without hurting veterans.

"It is really astonishing to see this," he said.

Bachmann's plan is rather ridiculous on its face, and won't receive serious consideration by anyone, but it's nevertheless a reflection of the bizarre congresswoman's priorities.

It's one thing to say one opposes government-run health care; it's something else altogether to identify some of the best care anywhere -- care for U.S. troops -- and call for deep budget cuts.

Given Bachmann's prominence as a Republican voice and spokesperson for the GOP's Tea Party base, perhaps others should be asked to comment on her proposal. What's it going to be conservatives, do you support Bachmann's plans to cut veterans' benefits or not?

Steve Benen 11:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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No benefits for "GIs" that fought at "eh Whoa Jama!"

Posted by: joyzeeboy on January 28, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think she's human.
Or, maybe she's some prototype Human-Talking Barbie hybrid.
You pull her string and it has a limited number of responses, "Lower taxes," and "Cut benefits" are two out of five of them. So, when you ask, you'll either get those two, or something about the Constitution, the Jesus/Bible, or Communists.

"Congresswoman Bachmann, what would you like to order for lunch?"
"Are you paying or am I?"
"Cut taxes."
"Let's get down to business, what's your view on
veteran health care?
"The Constitution."
"I mean, who should pay for them?"
"Jesus in the Bible."
""Congresswoman Bachmann, don't you think that with two wars, we should increase benefits to the veterans who protect our country?"
"Lower benefits."

Maybe they can work on including a few more phrases in this human/Barbie hybrid before we let her run for President.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 28, 2011 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a better idea for lowering future VA disability payments:

Get us the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan--that way there will be fewer disabled veterans.

Posted by: "Fair and Balanced" Dave on January 28, 2011 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Has anyone determined whether Michele Bachmann and members of her family participate in the government-run socialized medicine benefits plan given to members of Congress?

Posted by: Eeyore on January 28, 2011 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

hey, Tea Party Caucus - why do you hate our troops so much?

Posted by: zeitgeist on January 28, 2011 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

      Soldier boy, made of clay
      Now an empty shell
      Twenty one, only son
      But he served us well
      Bred to kill, not to care
      Do just as we say
      Finished here, Greeting Death
      He's yours to take away

- Metallica, "Disposable Heroes"

Posted by: PonB on January 28, 2011 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Eeyore - As a guess I would say they participate - I have heard they are big recipients of farm subsidies (although they do not farm) also that she and her husband started some kind of clinic - wonder if they get medicare/medicaid payments?

Posted by: js on January 28, 2011 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

@c u n d gulag - Or, in tribute to the movie "Total Recall," I think all of her answers would be, "Two weeks!"

- PonB

Posted by: PonB on January 28, 2011 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

js - yes, I read somewhere they do. In fact, IIRC, they were complaining about the low amounts they received. Sorry, don't have a link.

Posted by: Athena on January 28, 2011 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

But remember only Republicans support the troops. Democrats hate the military. That's a universal rule, right? Like the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

Posted by: Mitch on January 28, 2011 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

"Bachmann’s clinic takes in thousands from “socialized medicine”


Posted by: flyonthewall on January 28, 2011 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

While Congresswoman Bachmann is looking in one of the right areas to cut expenditures, she is looking at it incorrectly.

She should follow the leadership of Congressman Ryan. After we double and triple check to make sure that those using the VA system are not just more freeloaders sponging off the taxpayer dime, we should issue those that remain vouchers and tell them to go purchase their own medical insurance.

There are many major problems with the VA Health Care system. The most pressing of these, and the reason that we should eliminate the VA system, is that it is NOT for-profit. As we republicans have maintained (privately) for years; if we can't make a profit off of it, why the hell should we allow it to exist!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 28, 2011 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

This should be framed as the Tea Party’s plan to gut Veteran’s Benefits, not Bachmann’s plan. She does claim to be their representative after all. Hell, she gave a response to the SOTU on their behalf.

Posted by: Joe Friday on January 28, 2011 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Note that the current number of suicides in the armed forces is is greater than actual fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan -- for the second year in a row. The VA is one element of many in making sure that soldiers get the mental and physical care that they need, in direct response to the incredible risks and sacrifices that they made individually. My own father received amazing care in a VA hospital at the end of his life, and I will always be grateful.

There are no words I can use to adequately express my contempt for this unworthy woman.

Posted by: Rathskeller on January 28, 2011 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Another one of the GOP's WTF moments! I hope military and their supporters finally start to drop from the GOP.

Posted by: neil b. on January 28, 2011 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's consistent with their other positions, isn't it?

Like defending the "right to life" until you're actually born, they love the troops until the troops are too injured to fight in their dirty goddamn wars; then who gives a fuck? let them die.

Posted by: rusty chainsaw on January 28, 2011 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Come on Bachmann, also cut the GI's death benefit, this could save sereval million $ annually.

"I don't think she is human" thanks for that Cundgulag.

Posted by: Ted76 on January 28, 2011 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

What Joe Friday said. This isn't her idea. It's one of the basic planks of the TP platform, and they need to be called on it. To regard soldiers as expendable like toilet paper is just disgusting. This woman is so low she could walk under a snake with room to spare.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on January 28, 2011 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

To follow upon my snark comments as RPOV...

As a Viet Nam veteran who is receiving health care through the VA system, there is nothing surprising about Bachmann's 'plan' other than that she actually posted it on her web site.

The wealthy wing of the republican party has long viewed spending on veterans in the same light as spending on the poor, working poor, and other lower classes. They just have seldom been as overt in their discussions.

All that it takes to understand that Bachmann is just being a good 'foot soldier' for her corporate masters is to understand the republican party.

The republican party is owned and operated by a wealthy wing dominated by big, big money and corporate interests and a whole lot of people who make their lucrative livelihoods catering to the wealthy. The base (including the tea partiers) of the republican party is mostly low information voters who receive their 'beliefs' from their churches, their Fox News, and each other. Needlessly to say, the 'beliefs' of the low information base of the republican party are bought and paid for by the wealthy wing and reflects what gets the base to do what is in the best interests of the wealthy wing.

To understand what motivates the bulk of the wealthy wing of the republican party:
- Self interest financially
- Self interest in gaining and holding power

The above is why I use RPOV to point out the 'mottos' of the wealthy wing of the republican party:
- More is NEVER enough
- I've got mine, f*ck you

Posted by: AngryOldVet on January 28, 2011 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it is astounding, I think it reveals what a GOPer really thinks of the men and women in the military.

They can use the military to pump their "I'm are REAL American" and foreign policy cred but ignore them beyond that. They want them to fight and die but otherwise keep their mouths shut (unless it in obsequious support).

My question is when will the individuals in the military really understand the GOP doesn't really have their best interests at heart (not that some Dems would do any differently) - they are to be used for political ends only.

Posted by: ET on January 28, 2011 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with fair and balanced. Fewer injured vets means less va spending. Let's get out of the wars.

Posted by: Peggy on January 28, 2011 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

re ET and others who would cast aspersions upon the patriotism of republicans...

Republicans are the TRUE PATRIOTS!!!

You can verify this by checking our vehicles. We have at least two chinese made bumper stickers that say "Support Our Troops" on each of our SUVs.

What you must understand is that they are OUR TROOPS as long as they are fighting our wars. When the wars are over or they are no longer available to fight them; they are not our troops and they can go to hell.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 28, 2011 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

...perhaps others should be asked to comment on her proposal.

Too true, but chances are it won't be asked by the MSM. But wait for her to call for armed citizens or some other equally horrific whistle to her troops. It'll be a screaming headline on the crawlers throughout the alphabet soup of corporate tv.

Posted by: CDW on January 28, 2011 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a solution to funding veteran's benefits: a special surtax applied only to those who voted for George W Bush, because his wars (if I grant we had to do "something" to whatever extent, it was still botched and not all necessary) are the major cause of all the expenses we're having now. Maybe if voted for anyone in Congress though, who authorized it (altho they might say they didn't know they'd be taken advantage of, that it would be so bungled, etc.)

Posted by: neil b on January 28, 2011 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

There certainly is one redeeming quality to this story. That is that these tbagger libertarian republicans will undoubtedly step on their own dicks given half the chance. I think Bachmann and Palin and the rest of their ilk need as much coverage as possible becauuse it will certainly bring to the light of day how really screwed up they are.

Posted by: Gandalf on January 28, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair to Michelle Bachmann, you need to go to her web site and read what she actually has printed.

To be fair to Michell Bachmann, you need to understand that all she is recommending for veterans is that disability payments be reduced by the amount of any payments they receive from social security. It is only FAIR that no persons be allowed to double dip from the federal coffers.

Receiving military retirement pay and social security and senate pay is ok because that is triple dipping not double dipping. Right Senator McCain?

Posted by: SadOldVet on January 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if complaint about double dipping is all it is then we could consider Bachmann's request to be somewhat reasonable. I sure do think DDing should be disallowed for almost anyone, altho let's take a careful look at disabled vets and ask if they might be worth indulging a little.

However the proposal per se isn't the only issue. There's also the GOP pretense that they are such guardians of the military, that non-GOPers are flabby traitorous haters of the military, that the GOP would surely use such a proposal against Democrats if they had a chance, etc.

Posted by: Neil B. on January 28, 2011 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Yet, SOV, see this: " ... a plan for cutting $400 billion in federal spending that includes freezing Veterans Affairs Department health care spending and cutting veterans' disability benefits." I can see how the latter can fit into stopping DD, but the freeze is not about how to calculate combinations, it's about the VA budget per se, no?

Posted by: neil b. on January 28, 2011 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

How much does everyone want to bet that Bachmann's supporters are still driving around with "Support Our Troops!" stickers plastered on the back of their SUVs?

It's all the same to these gruesome people: the soldiers, the wars, 9/11; once it stops being useful as a campaign prop, it's promptly forgotten about.

Posted by: electrolite on January 28, 2011 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine the following scenario: Bachmann finally makes her case to rise up against the Obama regime, and her beloved TDF (Teabagger Defense Forces) take to the streets with all their shiny new gunshow/Walmart popguns---and run face-first into the extremely ticked-off professional military. Fish---meet barrel....

Posted by: S. Waybright on January 28, 2011 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

c u n d gulag, it's interesting you should mention that, because I was just wondering what became of the False Maria in Metropolis -- you know, the beautiful android created by the scheming industrialists to stir up trouble among the working classes? Is that android still wandering around somewhere, perhaps, or is the factory that produced her still in business?

Cutting veterans' benefits is pretty consistent with Republican philosophy since the first shots in the Iraq war were fired. Milk them for all the oratorical sentiment you can about "our brave men and women," but don't give them anything, even the honor of having their names read publicly when they die. Remember how most TV networks refused to broadcast 60 Minutes the night they read the names of the fallen? Mustn't do anything to undermine the Bush White House line that the war was quick, easy and painless, must we? The summer before last, an Israeli man who was interviewed on TV expressed his disgust with Americans in no uncertain terms about the resistance to universal health care, and he pointed out that wounded American vets are living on the streets rather than getting the care they need. A tea-party woman ran up to him and screamed "Heil Hitler!" and then ridiculed him when he took offense.

Is this what we've come to?

Posted by: T-Rex on January 28, 2011 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Just imagine for a moment what the GOP and Fox reaction would have been if Obama had made the exact same proposal in his SOTU speech. The howls for impeachment would have been deafening before he finished the speech. The media would have been absolutely saturated with the story. But since it came from a far-right Christianist Rethuglican, Fox won't touch it.

Unfortunately, Bachmann's proposal will never receive the publicity it deserves as long as Obama and the so-called Dem "leadership" don't have the balls to use it against her and the GOP. This is yet another golden opportunity to:

A. Put the GOP leadership on the spot, to force them to either support this idea or publicly repudiate it, thereby help to either undermine Bachmann's standing within the Party, or force the Party to openly support her; and

B. Forcefully communicate to the American voting population the real nature of the GOP/Teabagger ideology, which as others have already pointed out, is:

Fuck you, I've got mine.

Posted by: bluestatedon on January 28, 2011 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Double-Dipping" is a repub/corporate invented outrage. NOBODY complains when someone in the private sector receives a pension + SS. NOBODY complains when someone in the private sector retires, then is hired as a parttime consultant by the company that pays his pension ... in fact it's considered a plus since that person is already an EXPERT in his field. Why should it be any different for PUBLIC employees? If they've earned their retirement, so be it.

Posted by: G.Kerby on January 28, 2011 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't looked at her website, but I take SadOldVet's point that she's merely proposing to end the "doubledip" of a veteran receiving Social Security benefits as well as veterans' benefits.

However, here's why this is unfair: As I understand it, members of the military receive military pensions and other benefits in lieu of Social Security. Thus, any veteran who is also receiving Social Security does so because he or she worked in the private sector, paid into Social Security and is entitled to benefits like any other worker. That's not really a double-dip, and really isn't any different from a worker in the private sector whose employer has a pension or retirement plan or contributed to a 401(k). That worker is entitled to both Social Security and his or her employer-provided retirement benefits. Do we really want to treat veterans less favorably?

These veterans have earned their "double-dip": from the military by virtue of their years of service at relatively low pay, and from Scoial Security by virtue of their contributions to that system from their employment in the private sector.

Posted by: DRF on January 28, 2011 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

We need to ask Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow to devote a segment of their shows every night to publicizing and criticizing the crazy stuff that Michele Bachmann says. Every word of it. And make sure to describe her as a leader and representative of the Tea Party.

Posted by: MuddyLee on January 28, 2011 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

And make sure to describe her as a leader and representative of the <strike>Tea</strike> Republican Party.

... fixed it for you.

Posted by: G.Kerby on January 28, 2011 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

"As I understand it, members of the military receive military pensions and other benefits in lieu of Social Security. Thus, any veteran who is also receiving Social Security does so because he or she worked in the private sector, paid into Social Security and is entitled to benefits like any other worker."

Incorrect. Since the 1950s all military personnel have paid into Social Security. And they also pay into MEDICARE. To be eligible for military retirement benefits, one must serve at least 20 years (excepting medical retirement). If you voluntarily get out after 19 years, you get nothing.

And you never actually retire from the military. You retire from active duty and are subject to being recalled to active duty at any time. I don't know of any private business that can force you to return to work after you retire. And ship your butt off to a war zone.

And its not a pension. It is Military Retirement Pay. Federal and state income taxes are withheld from it.

VA benefits are an entirely different matter. Anyone who has served in the militay and was honorably discharge is eligible for VA benefits.

It is possible for one person to receive military retired pay, Social Security and VA Disability.

My father does and I will in a few years.

There is a good explanation of the system here:


Posted by: arkie on January 28, 2011 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'd love to see veteran's benefits cut. . . by cutting the number of asinine and pointless wars that produce them.

Posted by: Steve on January 28, 2011 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's not surprising that Vote-Vets are appalled at Bachmann's wild start; they're as close to the left wing as the veterans organisations come. But, when the Veterans of the Foreign Wars -- as right wing an institution as I've ever seen -- smacks you in the kisser... you know you've stepped and overstepped on some very delicate toesies :)

Posted by: exlibra on January 28, 2011 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK



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