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Once again, a matter of priorities

I’ve hit on the theme of budgetary priorities and choices many times in recent weeks, and I see that Rick Noriega has given me a nice opportunity to hit it again.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Noriega lashed Republican incumbent John Cornyn at a Houston news conference today over Cornyn’s recent vote against a bill to expand benefits for military veterans.

Cornyn, however, said he favors what he calls a more effective version.

“We should be appalled and enraged as Texans and as patriots at his behavior on the Senate floor,” Noriega, a state House member from Houston, said on the main campus of the University of Houston, which he attended.

Noriega recalled that veterans lived in trailers on the UH campus many years ago while getting a college education funded by the GI Bill.

Cornyn and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain last week were on the losing side fo a 70-22 Senate vote for the benefits package, which would pay education costs for National Guard and miltary reserve veterans who serve active duty and meet other requirements.

Cornyn, citing a study by the Congressional Budget Office, said the bill was irresponsible because the offer of such benefits would encourage military personnel to use them rather then re-enlist in armed forces units. The Bush administration has branded the bill as too expensive.

Noriega, a National Guard lieutentant colonel who served in Afghanistan, said he, rather than Cornyn, knows from working with reservists that any new benefits have nothing to do with their re-enlistment choices.

Instead, he said, the personnel choose to end their service because they already have served multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and want to ease the toll on their families.

Noriega said Cornyn supports a “half-step, double-talk” version of the bill that would not give reservists full educational benefits after serving active duty.

[…]

Noriega, standing on the campus with six war veterans of various generations, said it was “an absurd statement” that the bill costs too much while Cornyn and other senators vote for $165 billion in continued funding for the war.

That’s it in a nutshell. You can’t claim one thing is unaffordable when you support spending much more money on something far more irresponsible. The occupation of Iraq, which is something we’ve chosen to do for more than five years now (Happy Suck On This Day, by the way), is an unsustainable expense that people like Sens. Cornyn and McCain choose to incur, despite overwhelming popular demand to not do it any more. In this case, following the will of the people would not only allow for much-needed spending on direly needed priorities such as the Webb bill Cornyn and McCain voted against, but would also mitigate against its cost by allowing us to finally reduce the number of active service members we require. In every way, it’s a win-win situation, but some people insist on choosing the loser option. Thankfully, we can do something about it this November.

I should note, by the way, that the Cornyns and McCains of the world are aided in this pursuit by a small but persistent group of House Democrats, who perversely oppose various forms of spending out of a misguided sense of fiscal prudence. I’m sorry, but you cannot simultaneously be a deficit hawk and a war hawk. Pick one or the other, because the two together do not mix.

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One Comment

  1. Kevin Whited says:

    ** I should note, by the way, that the Cornyns and McCains of the world are aided in this pursuit by a small but persistent group of House Democrats, who perversely oppose various forms of spending out of a misguided sense of fiscal prudence. **

    It must be galling for fine progressives such as yourself that the Dem majority hinges on those darn moderate Democrats who aren’t that big on the Kos/Pelosi agenda.

    The GOP brand may be damaged, but it is heartening that progressives haven’t gotten much closer over the past 2-3 decade to convincing majorities that tax-and-spend liberalism is preferable to the fiscal prudence you decry.