Comparing Clinton’s and Trump’s Plans for Veterans, Military Members and their Families

At the top of Hilary Clinton’s page for “Veterans, the armed forces, and their families”
is a paragraph about Clinton’s father who was a Chief Petty Officer during World
War II. Trump’s “Veterans affairs Reform” page, of course, describes no connections to the military, since his entire family has avoided service.

Both pages include three or four paragraphs of general vision statements. Even in these general statements, Clinton’s page provides more detail than Trump’s, but Clinton’s also links to a fact-sheet that details how she plans to meet her goals.

Clinton’s page says she will narrow the focus of the VA so that it concentrates on providing health care for service-related conditions and treatments that Veterans need but have difficulty getting outside the VA. For issues that can be dealt with outside the VA, she’ll have the VA coordinate with other existing programs, and “Strategically purchase private-sector care when it makes sense to do so.” She promises to hold regular meetings with the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense. She will look for ways to streamline the VA by removing redundancies and co-locating operations. She will push to implement the electronic health record system, which has been delayed for years. Her fact sheet is filled with such details.

Trump’s page as no such details. It’s pretty much a short list which he calls a “10 point plan to reform the VA”. There is no link to any fact sheet.

The first of Trump’s ten points is “Appoint a VA Secretary whose sole purpose will be to serve veterans.” We already have a VA Secretary whose sole purpose is to serve veterans. Recently the VA Secretary failed to fulfill that purpose, but the position and the purpose both exist, so Trump’s first point is meaningless.

Points 2,3,4, and 5 are all about punishing poor performers at the VA. They’re one point divided into four because a “10 point plan” sounds better than a “7 point list”. So far, it’s really just a 6 point list because point 1 is nonsense.

Half of Point 6 is a good idea. Yay Trump. He will create a 24 hour, live manned, “private White House hotline”. I like the 24 hour part. We already have a VA hotline but it only runs during East Coast business hours. It can be trouble finding time during the workday to deal with government agencies. So that’s great, but I don’t know what Trump means by “private White House hotline”. It would be stupid to put the hotline in the White House, and what does he mean by “Private”? The hotline would be better off in a VA facility were someone might be able to turn the call over to a health care professional.

Point 7 is about punishing non-performers, so it should get rolled in with points 2,3,4, and 5. Now it’s a 5 point plan.

Point 8 is about visas. Even if a crackdown on visas would help veterans (and I’m not saying it wouldn’t), it’s not a point in a plan to reform the VA. Trump really has a four point plan to reform the VA.

Points 9 and 10 sound good to me. He’ll increase the number of mental health care professionals and allow veteran’s to choose between care at the VA or at a private service provider. But since it’s mainly the cost that keeps vets from getting care outside of the VA (there’s no rule that says we can’t), if Trump wants to make sure that vets can get care outside of the VA, he should provide some clue about how he plans to cover the cost.

That’s it. Four ideas: Set up a 24 hour “private hotline”, increase the number of health care professionals, improve access to private health care,and make the VA a scary place to work where great resources are devoted to punishment and employees are rewarded for turning in their coworkers. There is nothing about the economic challenges faced by active duty military members. There is no mention of their families. There is nothing about education.

Most of all, there is no framework for how Trump plans to meet the four goals he spells out in his so-called “ten point plan”. There is almost no accountability.

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Photo by: Senior Airman Nichelle Anderson (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/334506) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Clinton’s plan has several specific objectives that later we can review to hold her to her promises.

Trump’s plan reads like a book report done on the morning bus by a student who didn’t read the book. It is an insult that shows no regard for veterans, military members, or their families.

Veterans for Romney

I have a little trouble accepting the fact that such a group as Veterans for Romney even exists. When I see an older veteran shaking Mitt Romney’s hand, I wonder, “Did this guy call Clinton a draft dodger?”.

Veterans with Mitt Romney, taken from mittromney.com

The difference between Clinton and Romney in terms of avoiding the draft is Clinton tried to end the war that he believed Americans were killing and dying in for no reason that anyone understood. Romney, while on a deferment, argued with people who tried to stop the war, than achieved more deferments for missionary work and retreated to the safety and comfort of a mansion in France.

If someone is about to get into a deadly fight, a bellicose friend might say, “I’m coming with you.” A peaceful friend might say, “We should try to stop the fighting.” A fearful friend might say, “I’m not getting involved and you shouldn’t either.” But what kind of friend says, “I long to be with you, but I’m too important to be sacrificed so I’ll stay here and yell at people who try to stop you.”?

Mitt Romney is trying to paint Obama and congressional Democrats as those who don’t support the troops by blaming them for the sequestration, a bi-partisan agreement which will cut defense spending along with discretionary spending. It is an agreement that his running mate praised. As the Washington Post notes:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), now Romney’s running mate, was one of the many Republicans who voted for the agreement. In fact, he was one of its biggest cheerleaders.
“The Budget Control Act represents a victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy,” he said in a statement issued after the measure passed.

The cuts specified in the sequestration deal are not meant to be enacted. They can be avoided by Republicans agreeing to compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy. The position Republicans have taken so far is not to budge at all on that issue. Republicans would rather cut defense spending and blame it on Democrats. This is the same kind of chicanery that Republicans engaged in when they voted down Democratic proposals to fund troops through the government shut-down that they almost caused, then wrote their own proposal laced with anti-abortion legislation to prevent Democrats from voting for it. It is a pattern that Republicans continue to follow. They are willing to harm our troops as long as they can blame it on Democrats.

Mitt Romney doesn’t support the troops. He forgot to mention the troops in his acceptance speech and forgot about the troops again during the presidential debate on foreign policy. Mitt Romney supports military spending, but that’s not the same as supporting the troops. Republicans have repeatedly voted down bills that support the troops.

Even a sandal wearing hippie with flowers in his hair who calls soldiers “Baby Killers” is a better friend to military members than a chicken hawk hypocrite who advocates for an unnecessary war in which he refuses to serve. It’s time to throw the chicken hawks out, not elect them to the presidency.

A Campaign of Lies

I’m disgusted and angry that the Romney camp is still running the “You didn’t build that” sound bite. It’s been debunked by a wide range of sources, and yet Romney believes that enough Americans are so ignorant of current events that they will digest what his campaign feeds them without even sampling the few sentences that preceded the bite.

At one point, it represented an uncommonly low level in the field of dishonest campaigning. But now Romney has sunk even lower by falsely accusing the Obama administration of trying to block early voting for military members. Mitt Romney is developing quite a pattern of lying to military members and veterans.

Mitt Romney is running the most dishonest campaign that I can remember. He has a record of taking multiple sides of several issues, continues to break campaign tradition by withholding his tax returns, and denies that his tax plan will raise taxes on the middle class while refusing to explain a $360 billion gap which economists have concluded can only be paid for by cutting deductions which help middle class taxpayers. Romney’s lies are so numerous that it’s hard for fact-checkers to keep up.

But still, people will see the “You didn’t build that” bite over and over, and believe it. They’ll believe it because they don’t read anything other than opinions from pundits who reiterate their own beliefs, and tune out arguments which challenge their own views.

Mitt Romney hopes that the percentage of voters who only get their news from sources which support his lies is greater than the percentage of those who get their news from other sources. If you’re cocooned in a right wing echo changer or even a left wing echo chamber, you can break out by considering the possibility that even those who disagree with you might have a valid point that should be explored. Often, you’ll learn that the other side really does have a point, although that’s not very likely when the other side is listening to Romney. At least you’ll know what the other side is hearing and be more prepared to defend the truth.

Ella Ward Emphasises Jobs & Education (They Go Together), Women’s Rights, and Supporting our Military and Veterans

Dr. Ella Ward spoke in a crowded restaurant at her pancake breakfast this Saturday, and emphasized three reasons why “You need to pick Ella Ward for Congress”.

1) Jobs and Education – “They go together”. Dr. Ward believes that supporting education and allowing educators to teach critical thinking skills, rather than cutting education funding and vilifying teachers, is an integral part of the strategy to bring jobs to America.

2) Woman’s Rights. Ella Ward wants to ensure that equal work is rewarded with equal pay, and believes that women should be able make their own decisions about their own bodies.

3) Protecting the Military and Veterans. “When they come home we have to make sure they are equipped with what they need to transition to civilian life.”

A common aspect of the second and third items is the Affordable Care Act, which covers vital services for women and enhances coverage our nations veterans, while not taking away coverage that veterans already have.

The breakfast was held at the Gourmet Breakfast Place on Old George Washington Highway in Chesapeake. Ella graciously thanked her host and her campaign volunteers for what turned out to be a successful and upbeat event.

Ella Ward Addressing Attendees at Restaurant Event

Veterans should know who their friends are.

In 2008 Senator Obama supported Jim Webb’s bill which is now known as the Post 9-11 GI Bill. President Bush, John McCain and other prominent Republicans did not support it. But they did support other bills. Only a nasty, dishonest, piece of garbage would accuse someone of voting against the troops when they all they did was choose one troop funding package over another. As is often the case in Washington, there were various versions of the bill to be voted on. But the bill that Obama supported, was the one that “most veterans groups stood by”, according to military.com, because it was truly a “thank you” to our veterans, while the alternatives were designed to be incentives to stay in longer. For Sarah Palin to suggest that Obama didn’t support a GI bill when in fact, he supported the preferred one, was unforgivable, but in keeping with the dishonesty of the Republican party and how it’s members wrap themselves in the flag and say “God Bless America” while using servicemen and women as pawns.

Another example of Republicans using military members as pawns came in the shadow of the government shut-down earlier this year, Republicans crafted a “Troop Funding Bill” with controversial anti-abortion legislation just to keep Democrats from voting for it, so they could later claim that Democrats don’t support the troops. In order to do so, they had to block a clean Democratic proposal without the anti-abortion legislation.

Democrats do support the troops, and the President’s Jobs for Vets program is a perfect example. President Obama announced a program that will offer tax incentives to business who hire vets, especially disabled vets and vets who have been out of work. The program also includes workforce training for vets returning to civilian life.

There are Republicans who genuinely support the troops. Chuck Hagel cosponsored Jim Webb’s bill, and both Democrats and Republicans have written various jobs-for-veterans bills.

But mostly, the Republican party has shown that nothing is more important to it then keeping taxes on the wealthy as low as possible. And if that means taking money away from veterans and servicemen, then so be it. Michele Bachmann, for instance, has been a stoic proponent of cutting veterans benefits in order to ease the tax burden of the very rich.

Since U.S. servicemen and woman aren’t wealthy, Democratic policies generally support them. Republicans support the wealthy and claim to do so because the wealthy are job-creators. But from what I see, when wealthy businessmen have extra money to spend, they spend it on technology so they can reduce their workforce, or they spend it on mergers so they can eliminate competition. The theory that the wealthy create jobs when they have extra money to spend doesn’t hold water. A small businessman might hire extra help to make his life a little easier but a big business doesn’t hire anyone they don’t need no matter how much extra cash it has floating around. That’s why the lines are so long at Walmart.

President Obama’s jobs plan will offer tax breaks to businesses. But rather than hoping businesses will spend that money hiring people, Obama’s plan will ensure that business hire the most deserving. Support the President‘s efforts to help businesses with a tax-cutting program which really does create jobs while supporting our veterans.