Republicans Want to Kick 1.3 Million Vets Off VA Health-Care to Save the Cost of Keeping Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for 13 DAYS
A billion can be a big number to wrap one's head around. If you had a billion dollars in $1000 bills, the stack would weigh 2,200 pounds!
This year, we'll spend $170 billion to keep troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I think that's a handy weigh of expressing big numbers. It works out to $465 million each and very day, or $19.4 million per hour.
Last week, The Hillreported that the Obama administration "might have thrown a wrench into Senate Democratic plans to pass what they see as a jobs bill — by implying the bill spends too much money." (You gotta love The Hill -- they write that Democrats 'see it as a jobs bill,' but the bill in question would increase the budget for the the Public Works and Economic Development Administration, which directly creates jobs.) At issue is a difference of $175 million in funding, which is what it costs to keep troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for 9 hours.
Republican Paul Ryan and the House of Representatives are looking to end VA healthcare for over 1.3 million veterans who are Priority 7 & 8. These veterans are the least disabled veterans using the system, usually with disability ratings of 0 percent or no service-connected disability. According to the Congressional Budget Office “Option 35,” the cuts would leave 130,000 veterans with no healthcare alternative. This means veterans with conditions not recognized by the VA, like certain diseases from Agent Orange exposure, would have to pay for healthcare out of pocket if they had not other service connected disability.
Currently, the VA spends over $4 billion yearly to treat these vets, despite co-pays intended to offset the expense. Ryan’s cuts are intended to save $6 billion off the VA’s tab and $62 billion over the next 10 years. Instead of merely increasing the co-pay or taxing Wall Street, Congress wants to just cut your benefits out, all together.
So the GOP would cut 1.3 million vets off of VA health-care -- way to support those troops, fellas! -- in order to save the equivalent of what it costs to keep troops in Afghanistan and Iraq for 12.9 days.
As I've said a thousand times before, budgets aren't just sheets of numbers -- they're a reflection of our priorities.