Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Republicans Support the Troops.....until it costs money

Citizen Hastert continues his Reign of Terror, as he tries to purge any committee chairman who has the audacity to do his job or serve his country. After almost forcing out the Ethics Committee chairman for having the temerity to slap Tom Delay on the wrist; Hastert has now dropped the axe on another target: Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) . His crime? Actually trying to spend money to help veterans
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"For me, it's about principles, about doing right regardless of the consequences," said Smith. "I am a loyal Republican who believes in fighting for good public policy and that is the best way to show loyalty."
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His replacement? Well he is, in the incredibly sensitive words of an anonymous Republican staffer coward, "Someone who will tell the vets, enough is enough"
Apparently the Republican idea of supporting the troops involves puffery and empty words of encouragement, not ya know, actual support


Diaries :: Magorn's diary ::

Enough is Enough. Enough is Enough?! Did they really say that? Out Loud?
This kind of message of support for the troops makes Dandy Don Rumsfeld look like Bob Hope!

Although he was removed for "disloyalty"; Rep Smith's real crime was too much loyalty to the people he was actually supposed to be helping:
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Smith, now starting his 13th House term, has been a strong advocate for improving veterans' programs, authoring bills to improve health care, increase college aid, help homeless veterans and raise life insurance benefits for surviving spouses. He had two more years left before term limits would have required him to step down as chairman.
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You read that right, Smith's crime was trying to spend money to help Homeless veterans and War widows!

Smith's "disloyalty" was that his bills highlighted a very inconvenient truth the leadership simply can't afford to face: We have only just begun to pay of this war. Many of the bills for it will be paid by our Children or grandchildren. Besides the 1200+ Us soldiers killed in action to date there are almost 6,000 who have been wounded so severely they had to leave combat operations all together even this figure does not include those injured, however severely by means other than hostile fire.

In addition, many of the wounded from this conflict are wounded far more gravely than those of previous wars (where they would have died outright) and will require a lifetime of specialized medical care. The rate the amputation rate for US soldiers is twice that of any war since the civil war and there has been a massive increase in head and facial wounds. _________________
These injuries, surgeons said, have long-term implications, with many involving irreversible brain damage, breathing and eating impairments, blindness, or severe disfiguration. The study prompted the military to add a full-time head and neck surgeon to a Baghdad field hospital.
"These folks are just starting to come back, and they may require care for a long, long time," said Holt.
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Instead of facing up to this grim reality, and making the necessary financial commitments Citizen Hastert has responded to the situation by killing the honest messenger and replacing him with a yes man wearing a fig-leaf of his own previous combat service. Publicly the Republicans claim his replacement will be more sensitive to Veteran's needs
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Hastert, in a prepared statement, said Buyer is "someone who has real-world veterans experience" and "understands the issues confronting today's veterans when they return home from fighting the war on terror."
"I'm confident under Steve's leadership, those who faithfully fought to defend our freedoms will continue to have access to quality health care," Hastert said.
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But behind closed doors the Leadership is equally confident of their hold on his leash:

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Buyer had lobbied the leadership for the post and has opposed Smith and veterans' groups on a number of issues in the past several years.
A Republican leadership aide, who asked not to be identified, said veterans spending has been "going up and up well beyond the rest of the budget." He said the GOP leaders wanted someone like Buyer who could "tell the veterans groups, 'Enough is enough.'"
"Smith has not been much of a team player," said the House aide. Rather than work with the leaders, he said, Smith has publicly opposed them and put members in difficult political situations.
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And the message is coming through loud and clear:

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Last night, leaders of veterans groups said the move does not bode well for improving veterans' health care at a time when so many soldiers are coming home wounded from the war in Iraq.

"This is not only a slap at Chris Smith, but a shot over the bow at veterans organizations," said Richard Fuller of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. "The Republican leadership has made a statement that the country is making too much of a commitment to the men and women who have served in uniform."

Dennis Cullinan, legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, called Smith's ouster "a bitter disappointment," while Joe Violante of Disabled American Veterans said it "sends a terrible message to veterans that they are not a priority with the House leadership.

"I don't believe they are in favor of giving veterans anything more then the bare minimum," said Violante.
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