Saturday, September 06, 2008
McCain: His Military Voting Record
In an election season, I have great doubts about reportage but something I find easy to grasp is McCain's voting record in the Senate. A voting record provides practical guidance about what programs McCain actually puts his vote behind or ignores. For me, it provides a counterpoint to his rhetoric and a check on his version of the truth. All national level politicians are prone to exaggerating and minimizing, promises and deliberate silences on particular subjects. It's part of the breed standard.
Here are some excerpts from the article but there's more meat to it:
Because McCain is running for president almost solely on his biography as a war hero, he can't - and won't - allow the slightest doubt to linger about his dedication to soldiers both past and present. It didn't matter that the vet simply wanted to know how McCain - himself a former soldier and prisoner of war - could oppose important healthcare legislation for veterans. In fact, he didn't even ask McCain about the GI Bill that he opposed, which had been supported by a bipartisan group of 75 senators, including Republican veterans Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and John Warner (Va.).
Most notably, McCain also testily responded to his inquisitor that he had "received every award from every vets organization."
The problem is, not only is that assertion not true, but McCain's record on veterans' issues paints a picture of a man who has been willfully negligent when it comes to providing for his former brothers and sisters in arms....
In 2005, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), now chair of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced legislation that would have increased veterans' medical care by $2.8 billion in 2006. He also introduced another bill that would have set aside $10 million for "readjustment counseling services" - a program to provide a wide range of counseling, outreach and referral services for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, to ease their readjustment back into society. (This program was started in 1979 for Vietnam veterans, so one would think McCain is quite familiar with it.)
But McCain - and other Republicans who are more concerned with using government funds for tax cuts for multimillionaires or for corporate subsidies to oil and gas companies - voted this effort down....
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the country's largest Iraq veterans' group, looked at 155 Senate votes since Sept. 11, 2001, on legislation that "affected troops, veterans or military families." It then awarded each senator a grade by comparing his or her votes to IAVA's view of what constitutes effective support for active troops, veterans and their families.
No senator received an "A" grade. Thirteen senators - all Democrats - received an "A-." The worst grade received by a Senate Democrat was higher than the best grade granted to a Republican. Obama, for his part, got a B+.
McCain received a "D."
In fact, IAVA founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff says that "there has been no bigger obstacle to passage of the GI Bill than Senator McCain. Even though he'd now like to claim credit for it, he didn't even show up. He thought it was more important to be in California for a fundraiser."