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Opening Arguments

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Want a glimpse of our future under Obamacare? Just take a look at the medical system the government already operates:

CNN) -- At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

For six months, CNN has been reporting on extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country and who died while waiting for appointments and care. But the new revelations about the Phoenix VA are perhaps the most disturbing and striking to come to light thus far.

I was going to write that this is a shameful way to treat veterans, but, hell, it's a shameful way to treat anybody. And if you don't think inching us closer to government as the only health provider wasn't the goal of Obamacare all along, you probably shouldn't ever leave the house.


Thu, 04/24/2014 - 2:35pm


It has become apparent over the last three years that Republicans talk about helping vets when they come home from combat, but in reality want to take it away. Remember when Bush was President and wounded soldiers were billed for food they ate while in the hospital?  Since 2011 the GOP has tried unsuccessfully to cut benefits our disabled veterans desperately need.

Veterans have been fighting for what the government promised them after their service ends, since George Washington was President. If veterans hadn’t fought for their benefits in the past centuries, they wouldn’t have any benefits today. The fight continues to this day. Since President Obama won his first term the Republican Party has demonstrated just how vigilant they can be in taking away our veterans’ promised benefits.

In the last year, the right-wingers have backed off cutting veterans' health care and concentrated on the failed attempt to get one of their own elected president. Soon thereafter, the GOP returned to the healthcare issue using the Affordable Care Act as a tool to extort and eventually shut down our government.

The irony here is that if they would use the ACA to provide veterans with much needed health care, they could save billions in taxes and give our vets better healthcare than they have now. There leaves no doubt that the GOP doesn’t want anyone to have health care.

The Republican Party is steadfast in its attempts to take away all veteran benefits. February of 2011, Rep. Michele Bachmann planned to reign in federal spending, in part by cutting $4.5 billion from the Department of Veterans Affairs – specifically disabled veteran compensation. Bachmann's vile attempt to cut so deeply into benefits our disabled veterans deserve, further evidenced the GOP's willingness to stop at nothing when saving their rich benefactors tax money.

Shortly after Bachmann’s attempt to cut the $4.5 billion, Rep. Paul Ryan and the House of Representatives tried to end VA healthcare benefits for disabled vets. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cuts specified in "Option 35," would end healthcare for over 130,000 veterans. Veterans who have illnesses caused by agent orange, for example, would not be able to get treatment.

Last December the GOP controlled House voted again to cut veterans benefits. The Republicans could have restored the cuts themselves in the House. Instead, they voted for the plan with the cuts to veterans benefits and went home.  Paul Ryan drafted it. John Boehner pushed it through and didn’t give even the 72 hours he promised he’d give for people to look through his legislation. 

The VA currently spends over $4 billion yearly on benefits to treat disabled veterans, despite co-pays intended to offset the expense. Ryan’s cuts are intended to shave $6 billion off the VA’s tab and $62 billion over the next 10 years. This means, in plain arithmetic, that Ryan wants to cut more money than the VA is receiving. It means Republicans want to take away all our veterans’  benefits and leave nothing in its place. Just maybe GOP obsessions with budget cutting to fund tax cuts for the 1% and corporations contributed to the problem.

Phil Reifenrath
Fri, 04/25/2014 - 12:46am

I've recieved outstanding heatlth care for several years from the VA in Fort Wayne. It's the best.  I'm very fortunate.





















Rebecca Mallory
Mon, 04/28/2014 - 7:01am

Joe, it as always easy to spend other people's money.  Let me ask you this: How much are you willing to have YOUR taxes increased to avoid cuts?

Or would you prefer to borrow the money  and pass the burden to others so you don't have to pay?

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 2:51pm

  Before addressing my willingness to pay more, let's discuss ways to pay for the promises we as a nation made to our veterans.  Here are a few ideas.

1.) Eliminate the tax break that allows hedge fund managers - who make billions annually -  to recieve a substansial tax break . This particular break, known as the carried-interest loophole, allows hedge fund managers to treat the money they receive from investors as capital gains, subject to a 15 percent tax rate. Though this money is a paycheck received for services, just like a movie star receiving a bonus if her movie does well, it’s treated as investment income.

Since hedge fund managers are some of the richest people in the country, this tax break actually causes a significant loss of revenue.  The top 25 hedge fund managers in the United States collectively earned $22 billion last year, and yet they have their own cushy set of tax rules.  If they operated under the same rules that apply to other people — police officers, for example, or teachers — the country could cut its national deficit by as much as $44 billion in the next ten years.

 2.)  Let's start making corporations pay the taxes they owe.

S&P 500 members citing effective tax rates of 0% in past twelve months, ranked by market value (in billions):

Verizon: $146.4

MetLife: $53.9

Eaton: $32.7

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals: $29.6

Public Storage: $29.5

Ventas: $19.3

Avalonbay Communities: $17.4

Agilent Technologies: $16.9

Vornado Realty Trust: $16.8

Boston Properites: $16.7

Seagate Technology: $15.9

Broadcom: $15.7

News Corp.: $9.8

Lam Research: $8.8

Kimco Realty: $8.6

Waters: $8.5

Macerich: $8.3

Plum Creek Timber: $8.4

PulteGroup: $6.4

Apartment Investment & Management: $4.3

Perkin Elmer: $4.2


Source: S&P Capital IQ

 Now Becky, if after the above wrongs are righted and more is still needed to help our limbless vets survive I would gladly pay more. It's a small sacrifice compared to the one they made don't you think?

Next question is for you Becky. Whould you be willing to pay more to feed, cloth, and provide medical care to the veterans that fought for your freedom?


Frank Keller
Mon, 05/05/2014 - 7:55am

If the Goverment really wanted to help veterans access to health care they would abolish the VA, and issue cards valid at any medical establishment. This way the government would save the costs of buildings, staff, at their establishments, and the veterans would receive timly care at what ever Doctor or Hospital they were most comfortable with and usually even closer than the closest VA facility.