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BRIDGE BRIEFING: Romney’s Record On Veterans

Romney’s Budget Proposals Hurt Benefits For Veterans

Romney’s Budget Plan Cuts $176 Billion From Non-Defense Discretionary Spending By 2016, Including Veterans’ Health Care. According to the Center on Budget And Policy Priorities, “Non-defense discretionary spending would be cut by $176 billion in 2016 — and $1.7 trillion through 2022 — in addition to the deep cuts already reflected in the budget baseline as a result of the caps in the BCA and the appropriations bills passed during 2011. This category of spending covers a wide variety of public services such as aid to elementary and secondary education, veterans’ health care, law enforcement, national parks, environmental protection, and biomedical and scientific research.” [Center on Budget And Policy Priorities, 5/21/12]

Romney Proposed Cuts To Veterans Disability Compensation. According to the Center on Budget And Policy Priorities, “The cuts that would be required under the Romney budget proposals in programs such as veterans’ disability compensation, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for poor elderly and disabled individuals, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and child nutrition programs would move millions of households below the poverty line or drive them deeper into poverty. The cuts in Medicare and Medicaid would make health insurance unaffordable (or unavailable) to tens of millions of people. The cuts in non-defense discretionary programs — a spending category that covers a wide variety of public services such as elementary and secondary education, law enforcement, veterans’ health care, environmental protection, and biomedical research — would come on top of the deep cuts in this part of the budget that are already in law due to the discretionary funding caps established in last year’s Budget Control Act (BCA).” [Center on Budget And Policy Priorities, 5/21/12]

Romney Would Have To Cut Non-Defense Programs By 29 Percent In 2016 And By 59 Percent In 2022 To Meet Defense Spending Goal And Balanced Budget Requirement. According to the Center on Budget And Policy Priorities, “if policymakers exempted Social Security from the cuts, as Romney has suggested, and cut Medicare, Medicaid, and all other entitlement and discretionary programs by the same percentage — to meet Romney’s spending cap, defense spending target, and balanced budget requirement — then non-defense programs other than Social Security would have to be cut 29 percent in 2016 and 59 percent in 2022 […]. Without the balanced budget requirement, the cuts would be smaller but still massive, reaching 40 percent in 2022.” [Center on Budget And Policy Priorities, 5/21/12]

Domestic Agency Budgets Would Face Cuts Larger Than 20 Percent To Meet Romney’s Budget Goals. According to the Boston Globe, “If Social Security is mostly off the table and current Medicare beneficiaries are protected, domestic Cabinet agency budgets would take a major hit in ways that could fundamentally alter government. The future growth of those discretionary programs funded through annual appropriations bills was already cut greatly in last year’s deal to raise the government’s borrowing limit. At issue are these programs, just to name a few: health research; NASA; transportation; homeland security; education; food inspection; housing and heating subsidies for the poor; food aid for pregnant women; the FBI; grants to local governments; national parks; and veterans’ health care. Romney promises to immediately cut them by 5 percent. But they would have to be cut more than 20 percent to meet his overall budget goals, assuming veterans’ health care is exempted. Among the few specific cuts listed in Romney’s campaign literature are proposals to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition, eliminate federal family planning money, privatize the money-losing Amtrak system and trim foreign aid.” [Boston Globe, 4/22/12]

 

Romney Supported Private Sector Competition In Veterans’ Health Care

Romney Was Open To “Private Sector Competition” For Veterans Health Care. According to ABC News, “Mitt Romney suggested on Friday that he was open to introducing ‘private sector competition’ into the health care system U.S. military veterans receive. At a campaign event in South Carolina, Romney raised the possibility of a voucher system. ‘If you’re the government, they know there’s nowhere else you guys can go, you’re stuck,’ Romney told a group of veterans at Mutt’s BBQ restaurant here. ‘Sometimes you wonder if there would be some way to introduce private sector competition, somebody else who could come in and say each solder has ‘X’ thousand dollars attributed to them and then they can choose where they want to go in the government system or the private system with the money that follows them.’ Romney added, ‘Like what happens with schools in Florida where people have a voucher that goes with him.’” [ABC News, 11/11/11]

Romney Suggested Free-Market Competition “Might Help” Veterans’ Health Care. According to The New York Times, “After listening to several men talk about problems they had encountered with their Veterans Affairs benefits and health care, Mr. Romney mused that it sounded like some free-market competition might help. ‘When you work in the private sector and you have a competitor, you know if you don’t treat this customer right, they’re going to leave me and go somewhere else, so I’d better treat them right,’ he said. ‘Whereas if you’re the government, they know there’s nowhere else you guys can go. You’re stuck.’ He added, ‘Sometimes you wonder if there would be some way to introduce some kind of private sector competition, somebody else who could come in and say, you know, each soldier gets X thousands of dollars attributed to them, and then they can choose whether they want to go with the government’s system or a private system.’” [The New York Times, 11/11/11]

 

Romney Cut Spending For Veterans In Massachusetts

Romney Cut Funding For Veterans’ Cemeteries And Out Reach Centers. According to The Boston Herald, “One day after his spokeswoman inflamed lawmakers by implying unpatriotic motives on the part of legislators, Romney sought to downplay the battle… But Romney insisted the ‘highest priority’ is due veterans by the tunnel-naming honor – angering Democrats who demanded the governor apologize for casting doubt on lawmakers’ patriotism, after Romney slashed funding for veterans’ cemeteries and centers.” [The Boston Herald, 10/16/03]

Romney Reduced Funds For Veterans’ Cemeteries By $86,018. According to Romney’s veto statement, House No. 4005 of 2003, “Agawam/Winchendon Vet Cemetery 1410-0630 Reduce 86,018 [to] 343,890… I am reducing this item to the amount projected to be necessary.” [House No. 4005 of 2003, 6/30/03]

 

Romney Increased Fees, Then Cut Funding For Long Term Patient Care At State Soldiers’ Homes

Romney Increased Fees For Long-Term Care At The Chelsea Soldiers’ Home. According to Lowell Sun, “Gov. Mitt Romney is vehemently opposed to raising taxes. Yet new fees proposed in his budget would hit a broad spectrum of people, including the blind, mentally retarded, veterans, drivers, hunters, lawyers, boaters, skaters, inmates, developers, aircraft owners and golfers. Romney’s fiscal 2004 budget calls for increasing 57 fees and creating 33 new ones in order to raise an extra $59 million for the state next year. The changes include a $100 fee for clients to determine eligibility for Department of Mental Retardation services, imposing a $10 fee to issue Certificates of Blindness to legally blind citizens, and increasing user fees for long-term care at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.” [Lowell Sun, 2/28/03]

Romney Vetoed Appropriated Funding For Soldiers’ Home Long-Term Patient Care. According to House No. 4005 of 2003, Romney’s veto statement said, “4190-1101 Veto 579,000… I am vetoing this item because it is no longer recommended in view of revenues currently projected to be available.” [House No. 4005, 6/30/03]

Massachusetts’s Soldiers’ Homes Offer Health Care Unrelated To Service For Honorably Discharged Veterans. According to The Providence Journal, “At a public hearing yesterday, eight members of the legislature’s joint Ways and Means Committee joined with commissioners from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to discuss the budget for the fiscal year that begins in July… The meeting addressed budgets for agencies including the Department of Mental Retardation, Department of Mental Health, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and the state’s two Soldiers’ Homes… But during the hearing, the legislative panel said the budget would cause increased fees for veterans in the state’s two Soldiers’ Homes… The Soldiers’ Homes, in Chelsea and Holyoke, offer health care for honorably discharged veterans in the state who have health problems unrelated to their service.” [The Providence Journal, 3/4/04]