Friday, January 28, 2011

The Wrong Cut

A lot of folks, including disabled veterans and the organizations who speak for them, are upset at Michelle Bachmann's spending cut proposal:
notably her recent State of the Union rebuttal address -- has also touched a serious third rail with her own budget proposal: Freezes and cuts to veterans' benefits.
Bachmann is going to find out how hard it is to cut entitlements and benefits in general, especially to those who deserve them most. Since she knows history she must know about the "Economy Act" signed into law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933:
Its most important provisions, however, repealed all federal laws regarding veterans' benefits.[15][16] Section 17 of the Act declared: "All public laws granting medical or hospital treatment, domiciliary care, compensation, and other allowances, pension, disability allowance, or retirement pay to veterans and the dependents of veterans of ... the World War, ... are hereby repealed, and all laws granting or pertaining to yearly renewable term insurance are hereby repealed. ..."[17] However, the Act allowed the president to re-establish these benefits for two years via executive order at levels the President deemed appropriate.[18] Benefits for non-disabled veterans fell more than 40 percent, creating deep resentment among former soldiers and officers and leading to the establishment of the Veterans of Foreign Wars as a major force in American politics.[15][19] The Economy Act caused a second Bonus Army to form.
FDR got significant pushback as well, including lawsuits, and eventually was forced to restore the benefits a year later. So why include veterans benefits in any new spending cut proposal? It makes very little political sense.

By the way, Adam Cohen of the New York Times covers this and many other New Deal doings of the 'brain trust' in his book "Nothing to Fear". Although liberally slanted, it does a good job of laying out the players and their actions during America's previous dabbling with socialism, including an illustration of how pointless the Economy Act was while FDR was spending his rear off in almost every other area. Lewis Douglas, the man in charge of shepherding the EA through to passage, was constantly at odds with the other cabinet members about spending and eventually left in a huff in 1934 after FDR ballooned the deficit with a Keynesian stimulus package.

Fast forward to today, we have the new New Deal president giving the illusion of cutting spending (and comparisons to Reagan) while he talks about 'investments'. History does tend to repeat, doesn't it.


Debbie said...

You are right, this is the wrong cut for sure. I'm surprised at her. But I was also surprised at Rand Paul wanting to cut aid to Israel. I understand he wants to cut all foreign aid. I would certainly be in favor of cutting all the money we send to our enemies.

Right Truth

A.C. McCloud said...

I give Rand Paul a break since he's new in the door and wants to get things done. It will be hard. He will get frustrated. But frankly, it's not in America's best interest to stop the money flow. People will die if we do.

That kind of absolutist thinking is what stopped me from supporting his father, who could not understand that oceans are not wide enough to keep America safe anymore.