To the editor:
I stand behind my letter of June 4th. The Republicans blocked legislation that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans. Did they not? The primary reason they blocked it, all objections considered, was the price tag. Although they had other issues, their explanation was the cost, right? "We couldn't afford it." As you (Michael Thom) stated "How do we pay for it... it would have increased the federal debt." True. It appears you missed one point in my letter, which was how ironic it was that the Republicans apparently had little or no concern for the same amount of money, $24 billion dollars, that it cost us when the Republicans shut down the federal government in October. The debt appears to be the central issue however, in the blockage of the veteran care legislation.
I disagree with Republicans about not adding the cost of expanded veterans services to the federal debt. If there was ever an issue that was more important than the federal deficit, it is the care and well-being of our veterans. We, the vast number of Americans who were not personally affected by the wars (98 percent?) owe that to them. They were willing to literally put their lives on the line for us. We owe them far more than concern for the deficit.
If you will reread my letter I did not cite this as"evidence of the Republicans not caring about veterans', as you stated I did (to have done so would have been stupid as well as ill-informed). In fact I stated "I'm not suggesting Republicans have a war against veterans." I simply conveyed that I believed Republican priorities were not in order when they blocked a veterans bill and yet supported a government shut down when the price tag was the same for both - $24 billion dollars. I suspect most Americans would agree with me.
"In election years politicians often propose bills that are designed to fail. They propose them so they can cast their opponents against this or that" (quoted from your letter). I am not that cynical about this bill, I believe Senator Bernie Saunders (an Independent although he caucuses with the Democrats and chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee) proposed this legislation because he believed it to be in the best interest of veterans (as did veteran organizations ). One of his major concerns, among many, is the high rate of veteran suicides. He didn't propose this bill in order to "make Republicans look bad." He proposed it, for a number of reasons, one of them believing it would help save veterans lives.
I await your response.