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Monday, March 27, 2006

Appleton Post-Crescent: President's Vet Health Budget a Shame or Sham?

Being more closely tied to and supported by their local communities, editorials from small-town newspapers are often a clearer indication of how 'average' Americans (if there is such a thing) feel about certain issues. Let's take a look at what Appleton, Wisconsin's Post-Crescent had to say about veterans health funding earlier this month.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From the Appleton Post-Crescent:

Under the [President's 2007] budget proposal, the funding for veterans' health care would grow from $24.5 billion in 2006 to $27.7 billion in 2007. After that, though, it would be cut 3 percent in 2008 and stay below $27 billion in each of the following four years.

Now, consider that the average annual increase in the veterans' medical budget has been more than 10 percent since President Bush took office. Also consider that the needs will grow as veterans come home from Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever else they're sent.

Finally, consider that President Bush "is committed to honoring America's veterans who have sacrificed so much for our nation" and veterans' health care has indeed gained a better reputation. But veterans' eligibility requirements already have been toughened. Now, future funding will get cut. Or will it?

President Bush wants to cut the federal budget deficit in half by the end of his term in 2008. Cutting or holding the line on much domestic "discretionary" spending, such as veterans' health care, is how he plans to do it — at least on paper. According to the Associated Press, the White House "says the long-term budget numbers don't represent actual administration policies." In other words, they're numbers that might not mean anything, other than making the overall budget proposal look like it's reducing the deficit. The administration might not follow through on them.

So that leads us back to Edwards' analysis. Either the budget proposal will do serious harm to the health care of the veterans who have nobly served our country and we will further dishonor our commitment to them — or the whole thing is just a sham.

Either option is appalling.

Feel free to offer feedback to the Appleton Post-Crescent by filling out the online form found below the editorial page.

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