McCain's Elitism and the New GI Bill
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Jim Webb and John McCain are throwing down over the new GI Bill and the dividing lines are pretty startling, especially when the current threads of the presidential race are considered. Charges of elitism are being thrown at Obama left and right, as are questions about his patriotism. Meanwhile, John McCain is actively working against a bill that would provide robust support to our troops as they transition back to civilian life.
The bill is the updated version of the GI Bill that helped so many soldiers finance their education after WWII. Sen. Jim Webb has proposed a bill with broad bipartisan support that would provide serious support to our veterans:
- Make benefits available to all members of the military who have served on active duty since 9/11/2001, including activated reservists and National Guard.
- Provide benefits for tuition, housing, and books for up to 36 months of education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
- Link amount of benefits to amount of time served on active duty.
- Increase amount of time after leaving active duty to collect educational assistance to fifteen years compared to ten.
- Allows additional payments for tutorial assistance as well as licensure and certification tests.
- Create a new program in which the government will agree to match, dollar for dollar, any voluntary additional contributions to veterans from institutions whose tuition is more expensive than the maximum assistance provided.
McCain has proposed a much watered down version of this bill that would provide most benefits to career officers. If shortchanging the grunts to enrich the officers isn't elitist, I don't know what is. What's worse, now that he's come under fire for his weak-ass proposal, he's trying to shift the blame to Sen. Webb.
Michael Connery is the author of Youth to Power: How Today's Young Voters Are Building Tomorrow's Progressive Majority . He blogs about progressive youth organizing at Future Majority and is an adviser to a number of progressive youth organizations.