What's the best way to support the troops, especially in a time of war? Republicans on the House and Senate veterans' affairs committees have got the answer: raise their taxes. Those Republican majorities voted last week to "impose an enrollment fee of at least $230 a year on 2.4 million veterans - one of every three now eligible for Veterans Affairs Administration health care," according to Military.com. Apparently half of those 2.4 million veterans used the VA health system last year.
Of course, you won't hear the word "tax" mentioned by the Republicans - these new charges are "fees." And in case you were wondering, that's the word Republicans like to use when they want to, um, raise taxes. The chairmen of the House and Senate VA committees wrote separate letters to committee members explaining that "difficult choices have to be made this year, given a tight VA budget and the number of new veterans returning from war with severe injuries." A tight VA budget? With a troop-supporting, Republican-controlled House, Senate and White House, how in the world could that be?
And, from a Republican perspective, nothing says "We love our troops" like taking more money away from soldiers with severe injuries.
George W. Bush has been keen to insist that during a time of war we need to make sacrifices - it's just a shame that the sacrifices apparently have to be made by the soldiers he sent to war in the first place. I mean, I'm sure the top 1 percent who benefited hugely from Bush's tax giveaway could sacrifice, say, that fourth BMW in order to make sure veterans get the health care they deserve. But I guess the Republicans prefer to charge people who have sacrificed plenty already.
And why not? It's not like the troops are complaining or anything. Apparently, give them the occasional party and pep talk, and they can learn to live without, oh, armor and decent medical care. And a limb or two.
And as for the ones with severe brain injuries? Well, come on, those folks don't even know how badly they're injured. Is that a bonus or what?