Pombo Disrespects Veterans And Then Lies About It
Back on August 30, MoveOn.org and the Defenders of Wildlife held a press conference to publicize the costs of the Iraq War, both in human terms and in tax dollars. The Tracy Press was there to cover the story:
Ed Yoon, campaign manager for press conference organizer and liberal activist group MoveOn.org, accused Pombo of protecting Iraq contractors in four House votes, and he said Pombo took $16,500 in donations from defense contractors who received more than $100 million in Iraq contracts.Now, that’s not the first time I’ve heard that 77 percent figure trotted out by the Pombo campaign. Richard Pombo’s own website makes the same claim: that the Department of Veterans Affairs budget has increased 77% over the last ten years and that veterans health spending has risen 80% over the same period.
Yoon also said Pombo voted to cut benefits for veterans in 2005 — three years after voting to send troops to war in Iraq. The vote set the congressional budget for the United States Government for 2006.
But Pombo campaign manager Carl Fogliani accused MoveOn.org of attacking the congressman over a procedural motion, rather than looking at Pombo’s support of veterans.
Fogliani said the veteran’s budget had increased by 77 percent since 1995, two years after Pombo took office.
There’s just one problem with that assertion by Richard Pombo’s campaign: According to this House website, ”In 1995, VA treated 2.6 million veterans and their families. In fiscal year 2006, the Department expects to treat more than twice that number – 5.4 million.”
Think about that for a second. The number of veterans has gone up over 100% during the last decade, and the money allotted for their benefits and healthcare during that same period, in a time of war no less, has only risen 77% – 80%. To anybody but Richard Pombo, that’s what would be known as a 20-25% cut in services to our veterans. (So much for this).
Meanwhile, Pombo has routinely voted against legislation that would benefit veterans. The advocacy group Disabled American Veterans has published a scorecard that shows Pombo voted against disabled veterans’ interests in 11 out of 12 votes from 2000 to 2006, giving him a ghastly rating of 8% support for veterans’ health issues.
In May of 2005, Richard Pombo voted against H.R. 2528, a $53 million amendment to increase funding for veterans’ health care including a program to provide improved prosthetics to vets who had lost limbs. That amendment lost by just one vote.
At the same time, the Republican House leadership which Pombo supports stripped out an amendment to the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act that would have expanded the TRICARE coverage provided to Reservists, who constitute 40% of our forces in Iraq. To this very day, TRICARE coverage begins 90 days before mobilization and ends 180 days after deactivation. After that, our reservist vets are hard out of luck.
And with that kind of a voting record on veterans’ benefits, Richard Pombo, who never served a day in his life, has the audacity to stand before you and me and say:
“The men and women of our armed services have performed exceptionally in Iraq, and I will continue to support them as they complete their mission.”