Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Win the War!" "Support the Troops!" Yeah, Right.

By Cassandra D

You've got to wonder how members of Congress can sleep at night.

In his October 12th column, Robert Novak reports on the failure of Sen. Tom Coburn's attempt to require that the Pentagon provide a letter-grade evaluating the desirability of unrequested earmarks. Unrequested earmarks for the Pentagon? You bet:

"The earmark process enables the Congressional-Industrial complex to fund projects the military does not want. This year's bill appropriates money to buy 10 unrequested C-17 Globemaster cargo planes from Boeing. It also funds 60 F-22A Raptor stealth fighters, not supported by the Pentagon and opposed by McCain and Sen. John Warner, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman. F-22A appropriations are guaranteed for three years, reducing leverage with contractor Lockheed Martin."

Wow. How much do you suppose 60 F-22 Raptors cost?

Meanwhile, back in reality, we hear this about the war in Iraq:

"The New York Times reported on the readiness of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., the division that helped lead the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was the first to enter Baghdad. The newspaper found that the division, slated to return to Iraq early next year for a third tour, is not prepared for another deployment.

Col. Tom James, who commands the division's 3rd Brigade, said that because of shortages of tanks and other armored vehicles for training, the Army has declared his troops untrained for attack and defense - the core skills for combat. The troops are training with computer simulators when they long ago should have graduated to real tanks and other vehicles. James said these conditions are unacceptable. The major reason for the shortage is that with each homecoming, the division has had to leave most of its equipment in Iraq for replacement troops to use."

Way to win, right? And how else does Congress "Support the Troops"?

"Proposed cuts in the government's medical care program will erode services to thousands of active-duty troops and their families, Oklahoma physicians said. At issue is the future of Tricare, which is tied to Medicare and provides health coverage to 157,000 Oklahoma beneficiaries. Tricare covers active-duty and retired military members and their dependents.

A 5.1-percent cut to Medicare reimbursements proposed to begin Jan. 1 also will mean lower Tricare reimbursements."

(from today's Oklahoman. Sorry, no link to the article.)

Back to Novak:

"In a caucus of Republican senators, 82-year-old, six-term Sen. Ted Stevens charged that freshman Sen. Tom Coburn's anti-pork crusade hurts the party. Stevens then removed from the final version of the Defense Department appropriations bill Coburn's "report card" requiring the Pentagon to grade earmarks. The House passed, 394 to 22, the bill, stripped of this reform and containing some 2,800 earmarks worth $11 billion."

Way to go, "Tubes" Stevens! Way to lead the bipartisan effort to spend money where we don't need it and leave our troops and their families holding the bag!

Here's an idea for you: Make members of Congress use Tricare for their health insurance. Or go fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. They can take their pick.

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