WISCONSINREPORT.COM (07/22/08) - Wisconsin veterans are pointing out U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s strong track record of standing up for troops and veterans. They say they want to set the record straight on a McCain campaign misleading attack ad. The veterans point out that Senator Obama has consistently advocated for finishing the fight in Afghanistan and has been a steadfast ally for veterans and their families. By contrast, the record shows that Senator McCain has opposed critical funding for troops and repeatedly voted against measures to support veterans.
“Senator Obama has been arguing that we need to finish the job in Afghanistan since before the war in Iraq even began. Senator Obama has a plan to responsibly end this costly war in Iraq that hasn't made us safer, and to redeploy our troops from Iraq to strengthen our military and finish the job in Afghanistan,” said Senator Mark Miller, who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard in 1995 after 30 years of service.
“John McCain served our country honorably and we truly respect his noble service. But his plan to keep our troops in Iraq indefinitely is not what the American people are looking for, and neither are these worn-out negative tactics,” retired Lietenant Colonel Miller said at a news conference yesterday (Monday, July 21, 2008).
The veterans also called on Senator McCain to uphold his vow to run a positive, issues-based campaign and to engage in the straight talk he often promises.
“Senator McCain is without question a war hero. As a veteran, I respect and honor his service to our country. But for Senator McCain to suggest Barack Obama does not support our troops is patently false and dishonest,” said Dave Boetcher, a Chief Warrant Officer in the National Guard with 27 years of service.
“It was John McCain who urged President Bush to veto funding for our troops. It was Senator McCain who repeatedly voted against funding for military equipment for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan - while Obama voted for it. And when Senator McCain has had the chance to stand with our troops who have returned home - America's veterans - he hasn't,” Chief Warrant Officer Boetcher said.
The Wisconsin veterans are saying that, in the Senate, McCain has repeatedly voted against increased funding for health care and mental health services for veterans. He also opposed legislation for a new G.I. Bill, despite its support from every major veterans organization in the country. In fact, the veterans explain that McCain’s record of fighting for veterans is so poor that it has earned him consistent rankings of less than 50% from the Disabled American Veterans.
“Senator McCain, you called for a civil campaign. You pride yourself on straight talk, but this ad isn't straight talk - it's more of the same Washington doubletalk,” Boetcher said. “It's more of the same old campaign tactics that the American people are tired of. Barack Obama has a plan to make our country safer, and responsibly end the war in Iraq and finish the job in Afghanistan,” Boetcher continued.
Here is some information that supports the Wisconsin veterans' allegations:
MCCAIN REPEATEDLY VOTED AGAINST, AND OBAMA VOTED FOR, INCREASED FUNDING FOR VETERANS HEALTH CARE
- McCain Said Improving Veterans Health Care Would be His Top Domestic Priority But He has Repeatedly Voted Against Increasing Funding for Veterans Health Care. In December 2007, John McCain said that improving veterans’ health care would be his top domestic priority as president. [Associated Press, 12/12/07]
- Obama Voted For And McCain Voted Against Increasing Funding For Military And Veterans Hospitals By Limiting Dividend And Capital Gains Tax Cuts To Individuals Earning Less Than $1 Million. In 2006, Obama voted for and McCain voted against providing $19 billion for military and veterans hospitals, offset by limiting the dividend and capital-gains tax rates to individuals earning less than $1 million. [HR 4297, Vote 7, Failed 44-53: R 1-52; D 42-1 (ND 38-1, SD 4-0); I 1-0; 2/2/06]
- Obama Voted For And McCain Voted Against Adding Nearly Half-A-Billion Dollars In Funding For Veterans Health Care In Wake Of $1.2 Billion Shortfall. In 2006, Obama voted for and McCain voted against adding $430 million for outpatient and inpatient health care and treatment for veterans. [HR 4939, Vote 98, 4/26/06, Passed 84-13, D 41-0; R 42-13; I 1-0; The Independent Budget, A Budget for Veterans by Veterans, 2/10/06; Newsweek, 1/19/06]
- Obama Voted Against And McCain Voted For Tripling TRICARE Fees For Veterans Offset By Eliminating Corporate Tax Breaks. In 2006, Obama voted for and McCain voted against the Kerry amendment that would eliminate a tripling of fees for veterans in the TRICARE health care program by raising the discretionary spending limit by approximately $10 billion. The provisions would have been fully offset by eliminating certain corporate tax breaks. [SCR 83, Vote 67, 3/16/06, Failed 46-53, D:43-1, R:2-52, I:1-0]
- Obama Voted For And McCain Voted Against Making Veterans’ Health Benefits A Mandatory Spending Program. In 2006, Obama voted for and McCain voted against an amendment that would make veterans’ health benefits a mandatory program, spending $104 billion over five years. The funding would have been offset by closing corporate tax loopholes and rolling back the Bush tax cuts for millionaires. [SCR 83, Vote 63, 3/16/06, Failed 46-54, D:43-1, R:2-53, I:1-0]
- Obama Voted For And McCain Voted Against Increasing VA Health Care By $1.5 Billion; Amendment Was Paid For By Ending Corporate Tax Breaks. In 2006, Obama voted for and McCain voted against an amendment that increased the discretionary spending limit by $1.5 billion to $874.5 billion to provide an increase in funding for veterans' medical services. It would be offset by ending certain corporate tax breaks. [Vote 41, SCR 83, 3/14/2006, Failed 46-54: R 1-54; D 44-0; I 1-0]
- Obama Voted For And McCain Voted Against An Amendment To Increase Veterans’ Health Care Funding By $2 Billion. In 2005, Obama voted for and McCain voted against increasing funding for the Veterans Affairs Department by $1.98 billion and designate it as emergency spending. It would stipulate that $840 million be used for veterans’ regional health networks; $610 million be used to address the needs of service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan; and $525 million be used to provide mental health care and treatment. [Vote 90, HR 1268, Failed: 46-54: R 1-54; D 44-0; I 1-0, 4/12/05; Vote 89, HR 1268, R 1-54, D 44-0, I 1-0, 4/12/05]
- Obama Supported And McCain Opposed Increasing Funding for Veterans Mental Health Services. In 2005, Obama voted for and McCain voted against providing an additional $500 million per year for five years for veterans’ mental health services. The cost of the proposal would have been offset by deferring tax cuts for those making $1 million a year. [S 2020, Vote 343, 11/17/05; Failed 43-55: R 1-53; D 41-2; I 1-0]
- Obama Voted Against And McCain Voted For A Veterans Affairs Budget That The Leader Of The American Legion Called “Inconsistent With The Thanks Of A Grateful Nation” Because Of Its Cuts In Funding For Veterans Health Care. In 2005, Obama voted against and McCain voted for the adoption of the concurrent resolution that would set broad spending and revenue targets over the next five years.
According to the leader of the American Legion “The American Legion is deeply troubled with and did not support the House Budget Committee's proposed budget resolution, H. Con. Res. 95, with regard to funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), especially the reconciliation instructions targeted at earned veterans' benefits. ‘Reducing mandatory appropriations for veterans' disability compensation, pensions, and educational benefits at a time of war is inconsistent with the thanks of a grateful Nation,’ Cadmus said. [SCR 18, Vote 81, 3/17/05, Passed 51-49, D: 0-44, R: 51-4, I: 0-1; American Legion Release, 3/8/05]
- Obama Voted For And McCain Voted Against Increasing Funding For Veterans Health Care By $2.8 Billion, Including Money To Finance VA Access For All Veterans And Funding For Mental Health, Prosthetics Research, And Resources To Handle Patient-Load. In 2005, Obama voted for amendment that would increase funding for veterans health care by $2.8 billion for fiscal 2006 and reduce the deficit by $2.8 billion.
Akaka, the amendment’s sponsor, said on the floor, “Mr. President, the budget resolution fails veterans. It is just that simple. I am pleased to stand with my colleagues who joined me in offering this veterans' health care amendment, which adds $2.85 billion for VA health care…Our amendment would add $2.85 billion to the resolution. How was this amount derived? I stress that nearly all of these amounts come directly from the President's own budget."
"According to the administration's own numbers, VA needs $1.4 billion just to cover medical care inflation and automatic salary adjustments for health care workers. The level in the budget resolution before us does not even come close to covering that amount. Additionally, VA requires funding to absorb new patient workload, from new veterans returning home from both Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and from older veterans who are just now turning to VA," Akaka said.
Akaka went on to say, "The amendment also provides funds to allow for modest increases in mental health and prosthetics….This amendment provides the money to make the system accessible to all who have served. It is simply wrong to exclude any men and women who have served our country from VA services, especially at a time of war.” [SCR 18, Vote 55, 3/16/05, Failed 47-53, D:44-0, R:2-53, I:1-0; Congressional Record: 3/15/05]
MCCAIN VOTED AGAINST AND OBAMA VOTED FOR INCREASES IN FUNDING FOR BRAIN INJURY AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR VETERANS
- Obama Voted Against, And McCain Voted For, A Motion To Kill An Amendment That Would Appropriate $2M For Traumatic Brain Injury Research. In 2006, McCain voted for and Obama voted against the Stevens motion to kill the Durbin amendment to shift up to $2 million from Air Force procurement and Defense Health Program accounts in the bill to efforts to improve imaging for traumatic brain injuries and adapt current technologies to treat brain injuries suffered in combat. [HR 5631, Vote 222, 8/2/06, Passed 54-43: R 52-2; D 2-40; I 0-1; CQ, 8/2/06]
- Obama Voted For, And McCain Voted Against, Providing An Additional $500 Million Per Year Over Five Years For Mental Health Services For Veterans. In 2005, Obama voted for and McCain voted against waiving the Budget Act to consider the Boxer amendment, which would provide an additional $500 million per year for the next five years for mental health services for veterans. The funding would be offset by deferring tax cuts for those making $1 million per year. Sixty votes needed to waive the Budget Act. [S 2020, Vote 343, 11/17/05, Failed 43-55, D: 41-2, R: 1-53, I: 1-0]
MCCAIN REPEATEDLY VOTED AGAINST, AND OBAMA VOTED FOR, INCREASES IN VETERANS’ FUNDING
- Obama Voted For And McCain Voted Against Increase Of $3.5 Billion Over President Bush’s VA Funding Request; Proposed Increase Would Cover Recommendations/Requests In Major Veterans Groups “Independent Budget.” In 2007, Obama twice voted for and McCain twice voted against the FY 2009 Democratic budget resolution, which provided for over $3.5 billion more in funding for Veterans than the Bush Administration’s proposal. [Vote 114, SCR 21, Adopted 52-47: R 2-47; D 48-0; I 2-0, 3/23/07; Vote 181, HR 2206, Passed 80-14: R 42-3; D 37-10; I 1-1, 5/24/07]
- Obama Voted For And McCain Voted Against Increasing Funding For The Veterans Affairs Department By $1.98 Billion, Including $525 Million For Mental Health Care & Treatment, $840 Million For Regional VA Health Networks, And $610 Million To Be Used For Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Specifically. In 2005, Obama voted for and McCain voted against increasing funding for the Veterans Affairs Department by $1.98 billion and designating it as emergency spending. It would stipulate that $840 million be used for veterans regional health networks; $610 million be used to address the needs of service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan; and $525 million be used to provide mental health care and treatment. [HR 1268, Vote 89, 4/12/05, Passed 46-54: D: 44-0 R:1-54 I:1-0]