Outrage of the Day: Obama Tries to Bill Young Soldiers for their Own Amputations

In a spirt of miserliness at odds with his usual willingness to spend tax dollars on anything and everything, President Obama is pushing a plan that would bill veterans for health care costs related to injuries suffered in combat.

If this White House plan is adopted and current spending trends continue, service-related health care costs soon will be the only thing in America not paid for by the federal government.

President Obama recently signed a bill with some 9,000 earmarks, yet now he wants to bill young soldiers for the cost of their own amputations.

Morally, the President could not be more wrong. Politically, he’s insane.

The American Legion’s Craig Roberts put it very well:

[Craig] Roberts said the President’s plan would increase premiums, make insurance unaffordable for veterans and impose a massive hardship on military families. It could also prevent small businesses from hiring veterans who have large health care needs, he said.”The president’s avowed purpose in doing this is to, quote, ‘make the insurance companies pay their fair share,'” Roberts said. “It’s not the Blue Cross that puts soldiers in harm’s way, it’s the federal government.”

Disabled Americans Veterans agrees:

“It’s a betrayal,” said Joe Violante, legislative director of Disabled American Veterans, which signed the letter [veterans’ groups sent] to Obama. “My insurance company didn’t send me to Vietnam. My government did. The same holds true for men and women now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s the government’s responsibility.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is making clear that it is not only veterans’ groups and right-wingers like myself who find this proposal reprehensible:

“I believe that veterans with service-connected injuries have already paid by putting their lives on the line for our safety. When our troops are injured while serving this country, we should take care of those injuries completely. We shouldn’t nickel and dime them with their care.”

Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME) makes it clear that Murray isn’t the only member of the President’s party to object:

“If that is in the budget, I will not be supporting the budget. It is unconscionable and is an insult to our veterans who’ve been hurt overseas. So hopefully, you will give that message to OMB as it relates to third party collections for disabled veterans, which is just unbelievable that anyone would ever think of doing that…”

Congressional Republicans also staunchly oppose the plan.

Adding insult to injury, when President Obama met with veterans’ groups to discuss the issue Monday, he didn’t appear even to be considering their — and our — point of view. As meeting participant Commander David K. Rehbein of the American Legion reported:

“It became apparent during our discussion [Monday] that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan… He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it.”

The least he could do — and I literally do mean the least — is listen to the soldiers’ point of view.

But for Barack Obama, apparently, listening to the representatives of wounded soldiers is simply too much to ask.

Update 3/18/09: It appears that wiser heads (or, more likely, Congress) prevailed on the Obama White House to back down. It remains amazing that the White House floated this at all. It must be chaos over there.

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