The Presidential Candidates on Veterans Issues
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney went head to head this month on opposing pages in VFW Magazine – the official print magazine of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The editors of VFW posed the same set of questions to both candidates. Most of the responses from both sides were pretty bland, consisting of nice language but few specifics. However, there were a few salient points, where both men distinguished themselves from one another. Here is a ‘hot wash’ of the candidates’ positions on important issues concerning veterans. You can read the piece in its entirety here.
On partial privatization and vouchers
“There are instances where the targeted use of fee-basis care can be a tool for extending VA’s ability to care for veterans, in remote rural or in hard-to-fill specialties. But our first responsibility should be strengthening VA, and as long as I’m President, I will not allow VA health care to be turned into a voucher system, subject to the whims of the insurance market.”
“Private care may have a role in that the existing network of private providers in the military’s TRICARE system can be an excellent optional supplement to VA, but it cannot be a replacement for the VA program…
…With veteran suicide rates and mental stress soaring, we must consider offering veterans optional access to private providers already available through the TRICARE system to supplement the VA system of care.”
On Increases and Cuts in the Defense Budget
“We need a military that is more agile, with cutting-edge technology and capabilities and we need to focus more on emerging regions like Asia. And my proposed budget grows defense spending every year after 2013 – albeit at a slower rate as we wind down the wars. My balanced plan to get our fiscal house in order over the long run includes less in defense reductions than recommended by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission.”
“I would increase the naval shipbuilding rate from 9 to 15 per year, improve force structure throughout the services and increase the number of active-duty troops by 100,000… there are savings to be found in the Pentagon’s civilian workforce that can be put toward our fighting men and women and the equipment they need.”
On protecting Retirement Benefits
“I am committed to providing sustainable retiree benefits to our military personnel, and I strongly support protecting the retirement benefits of those who currently serve by grandfathering their benefits.”
“I will not propose TRICARE fee increases or cuts to military benefits especially while the size of the federal budget is exploding. Time and again, we have seen that efforts to balance the budget on the backs of the military end up costing more, not just in treasure, but in blood.”
What do you think? Are they blowing smoke? Sound off in the comment section!