Let's take a look at how the Bush/Cheney Administration is matching their rhetoric with accomplishments about supporting the troops. You'd probably assume they would be taking good care of our veterans. After all, the vets are the people who were stuck doing the dirty work of implementing the White House's reckless neocon foreign policy. After the Walter Reed Army Hospital debacle one may also think that vets would be getting improved health care. Apart from cleaning up some of the vermin and mold and canning the hospital director, what steps have been taken to improve the overall situation?
Last Wednesday Harvard Medical School professor Stephanie J. Woolhandler presented her findings on veterans' health care to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. The ranks of uninsured veterans have increased by about 290,000 since the compassionate conservative "War President" was installed by the conservatives of the activist Supreme Court. That would make a total of around 1.8 million vets without health coverage. They have joined their 45 million other fellow countrymen who wonder how they will get medical treatment.
Ever watchful to protect Americans from the right to health care, Republican Representative Cliff Stearns of Florida said to Dr. Woolhandler, "The difficulty would be that because of your desire for universal health care, that could influence how you felt about veterans."
Chet Edwards is the Democratic Representative from Bush's home district in Texas. He said the House has sent Bush a $64.7 billion spending bill to fund Veterans Affairs. It includes a $6 billion increase for vets health care. This is $3.8 billion more than Bush had requested. In the Democrats' weekly radio address on Saturday Edwards said, "For weeks, the White House budget office threatened to veto this bill, because it was above their request. Fortunately, the president finally backed down on his threat to this historic veterans' bill, but only after it was clear that Congress would override a veto."
Last week the Veterans Affairs spending bill passed the House 409-2.
None of the architects of the Iraq War have seen combat. When they had the opportunity to serve in Vietnam Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, and Feith all had "other priorities". The wealthiest Americans will keep their tax cuts. They are also mostly Republicans. That is clearly one of the priorities of this White House.
We can bet that when it comes to veterans' medical care this administration of chickenhawks would prefer to say, "Mission accomplished", and continue to stay the course.