Republicans Support War Not Troops

Bernie SandersI haven’t given any attention to Bernie Sanders’ veterans benefits bill (S.1982), even though my Google+ account was flooded with information about it last week. I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere. But what ultimately happened says a lot about the modern Republican Party.

It was a simple bill: it allocated $21 billion over the next ten years to enhance veterans benefits, which is needed, given the huge increase in demand caused by our two recent very long wars. But it’s hard to get too excited about such things given that the Republicans are against doing anything out of principle. They wouldn’t want the president to have a “win.”

So I figured that like most widely supported bills, it would make it through the Senate and go to die in the House. After all, the Senate is filled with people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, men who have never seen a war they didn’t like. Certainly these men who love talking about our brave heroes in uniform would be for supporting the former troops. But no. They both filibustered the bill. So it didn’t even get the chance to go to the House to die.

Of course, the Republicans who filibustered the bill would never admit to being against the bill. They claim to be all for extending these benefits. But this is always the way things work in Congress. This is one of the main points in Winner-Take-All Politics. Politicians will never admit to being against a bill in a general sense. They always come up with some minor reason why the bill is unacceptable. I lampooned this before regarding the minimum wage, “If we were raising it to $8.99 per hour, I would vote for it. But I just cannot support $9 per hour!”

We have the same thing with Sanders’ veterans benefits bill. The government has a floating fund for foreign wars—money that goes to pay for the Afghanistan War but is currently not being used to fund the Iraq War. The bill uses some of this money. Graham and the rest of the Republicans are using this as an excuse to be against the bill. He said, “That’s an illusionary pay-for. That’s not real money.” Of course, Graham was against pulling out of Iraq. So he was all for spending that money to create new disabled veterans. But using it to take care of those disabled veterans who already exist was not acceptable.

The bill was blocked by a procedural vote that required 60 votes to proceed, with a vote of 56-41. Only two Republicans voted for it: Dean Heller of Nevada and Jerry Moran of Kansas. Neither man is anything but rigidly far right, but in the context of the modern Republican Party, they are among the more reasonable people.

The whole thing is shameful, but not surprising. There is no doubt that under a Republican president, this bill would have passed with large bipartisan support. So the Republicans don’t seem to stand for anything if they might have to share the credit. What I wonder now is if Americans (and above all, the mainstream press) will continue to treat the Republican Party as though it is the party that is most supportive of the military. I’m not at all sure it will have any effect. For a long time it has been clear that the Republican Party isn’t pro-military, it is pro-war. Republican politicians are always in favor of war and that is not at all how one would act if one were interested in supporting the troops.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Republicans Support War Not Troops

  1. "What I wonder now is if Americans (and above all, the mainstream press) will continue to treat the Republican Party as though it is the party that is most supportive of the military."

    Yes, Americans and the press will treat the GOP that way. Also as more interested in defending Americans from crazed bombers. Reality has nothing to do with this brand identification. Republicans will consistently vote for money going to shady defense companies, and a handful of Democrats won’t. That always, always, always makes the Democrats "soft on defense." It will never change.

    It never fails to delight me when Republicans talk about government spending. They hate it not because it’s expensive, but because it isn’t going to for-profit crooks. If we doubled the military budget tomorrow, and handed every penny to Blackwater et. al. the GOP would be thrilled. Results be damned; the point isn’t results, it’s sheer patronage. We’re talking about a party that balks at money for infrastructure repair if that money goes to state governments, and jumps at the chance to pony up more if that money goes to unaccountable subcontractors.

    This is one area where I don’t believe, for a second, that the Tea Party radicals have any principle whatsoever. They might believe their religious bullshit. When it comes to sticking their hands in the till, however, they are utterly criminal, and think each last taxpayer dime should be stolen before the whole system goes kaput. Like our bankers, they believe that an honest man is a fool, and everyone with any sense is in on the graft.

    Our national budget could easily be half of what it is if these con artists weren’t writing the checks. Sorry to be so angry, but that’s where government waste goes; into contributors’ pockets.

  2. @JMF – I think we need to distinguish between the conservative elites and the base. What you are describing are the elites. I generally find a lot of common ground with conservative base voters. The problem is that as authoritarian followers, they can’t be depended upon to actually think. In general, they are against the bailout of the banks. But if Fox News and hate radio tell them not to worry about it, they won’t. And above all, the base is all about racial resentment. They believe the reasons they aren’t doing better is because all their money is going to lazy dark skinned people. They believe this even when [i]they[/i] are on government support.

    It isn’t even just domestic policy. I can tell a single conservative multiple times that foreign aid is less than 1% of the federal budget, yet every time I talk to them about the budget, they bring up foreign aid. They just can’t get past this map of the world where the government is taking money from the worthy and giving it to the unworthy. So they can’t see that those "worthy" white guys in business suits are getting all kinds of money both directly and indirectly through government policy. But even if you press them on the issue, they will admit that it shouldn’t be that way, only to forget all about it in the next sentence. Because they just [i]know[/i] that the white guys in suits are at most a minor problem and poor blacks are a really big problem.

  3. "They believe this even when they are on government support." Dear Lord, I’ve run into that seeming contradiction a zillion times. People who are receiving unemployment benefits and whose disabled relatives are living entirely on SSA funds will scream about "blacks" supposedly getting free money. Hell, when I worked for H&R Block, African-Americans used to ask me why immigrant Ethiopians and Somalis got all kinds of crazy tax benefits. (They don’t receive any tax benefits, as you’re no doubt aware.) More than once, I heard that immigrants got free cars, rent, etc.

    Good terminology on "hate radio." That’s what it is. You’d think people’s ability to be outraged would burn out a circuit or two after repeated overuse, but it seems to be limitlessly addictive.

  4. @JMF – It’s a real problem. The power elites are good at getting the working class to turn on itself. That more than anything is why the power elites hate unions. It isn’t about collective bargaining. It is the working class feeling affinity for itself.

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