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'Lip Service'--Army Times blasts Bu$h

Talk is cheap and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.
Issue Date: June 30, 2003
Editorial

Nothing but lip service

In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.
For example, the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.

Similarly, the administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.

Then there's military tax relief or the lack thereof. As Bush and Republican leaders in Congress preach the mantra of tax cuts, they can't seem to find time to make progress on minor tax provisions that would be a boon to military homeowners, reservists who travel long distances for training and parents deployed to combat zones, among others.

Incredibly, one of those tax provisions easing residency rules for service members to qualify for capital-gains exemptions when selling a home has been a homeless orphan in the corridors of power for more than five years now.

The chintz even extends to basic pay. While Bush's proposed 2004 defense budget would continue higher targeted raises for some ranks, he also proposed capping raises for E-1s, E-2s and O-1s at 2 percent, well below the average raise of 4.1 percent.

The Senate version of the defense bill rejects that idea, and would provide minimum 3.7 percent raises for all and higher targeted hikes for some. But the House version of the bill goes along with Bush, making this an issue still to be hashed out in upcoming negotiations.

All of which brings us to the latest indignity Bush's $9.2 billion military construction request for 2004, which was set a full $1.5 billion below this year's budget on the expectation that Congress, as has become tradition in recent years, would add funding as it drafted the construction appropriations bill.

But Bush's tax cuts have left little elbow room in the 2004 federal budget that is taking shape, and the squeeze is on across the board.

The result: Not only has the House Appropriations military construction panel accepted Bush's proposed $1.5 billion cut, it voted to reduce construction spending by an additional $41 million next year.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, took a stab at restoring $1 billion of the $1.5 billion cut in Bush's construction budget. He proposed to cover that cost by trimming recent tax cuts for the roughly 200,000 Americans who earn more than $1 million a year. Instead of a tax break of $88,300, they would receive $83,500.

The Republican majority on the construction appropriations panel quickly shot Obey down. And so the outlook for making progress next year in tackling the huge backlog of work that needs to be done on crumbling military housing and other facilities is bleak at best.

Taken piecemeal, all these corner-cutting moves might be viewed as mere flesh wounds. But even flesh wounds are fatal if you suffer enough of them. It adds up to a troubling pattern that eventually will hurt morale especially if the current breakneck operations tempo also rolls on unchecked and the tense situations in Iraq and Afghanistan do not ease.

Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, who notes that the House passed a resolution in March pledging "unequivocal support" to service members and their families, puts it this way: "American military men and women don't deserve to be saluted with our words and insulted by our actions."

Translation: Money talks and we all know what walks.

homepage: homepage: http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=0-ARMYPAPER-1954515.php
address: address: Army Times

no friend of the military 10.Jul.2003 17:07

reposter

No friend of military

One of the most hypocritical sights I've ever seen was George W. Bush in full flight gear strutting around the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln at the end of the Iraq invasion. Given that he was AWOL from his National Guard post for over a year, Bush's actions were insulting to all former and present military personnel.

Now, according to The Army Times, we learn that the White House fought a proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty, and it wants to roll back recent increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.

The White House budget proposal for 2004 also cuts $1.5 billion of the $9.2 billion military construction request, ensuring that a lot of military housing will remain substandard. President Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget plan even proposes to cut Impact Aid funding by over $200 million, with the entire reduction to come from the portion designed to support the education of children of military personnel.

As hundreds of thousands of our sons and daughters are still in harm's way, his cuts are particularly offensive. Except for political show, President Bush is no friend of the military.

Robert Hildebrand
Salt Lake City


Bush Is A Terrorist Under the Patriot Act 10.Jul.2003 20:55

Legal Eagle

USC Title 18, Section 2331, (a new category) - "domestic terrorism" - has been created and means activities that:

"involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping, and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States."

Bush lied about Saddam's WMD capabilities (criminal fraud) to intimidate and coerce the public and congress to get his oil war in Iraq. Bush is, by definition of his own Patriot Act, a terrorist.

Former ARMY 10.Jul.2003 21:23

Carpenter

I doubt many people will actually read this. But to set something straight. The "$6000 gratuity" is only intended to cover the cost of funeral expenses.

My SGLI (Servicemans Group Life Isurance) would have paid $250,000 to my brother if I had died on active duty. I chose this coverage, chose the benefactor, it was a minimal amount deducted from my pay. Most of you reading this dont have life insurance, and dont know how cheap it is to get.

Dont go trumpeting your horns in support of the troops, if you dont know any.

That's OK Carpenter, I don't support the troops. At all. 11.Jul.2003 01:36

GRINGO STARS

I also don't support Nazis or Al Queda any other war criminals as defined by the Geneva Conventions. The slaughter of civilians is disgusting - and illegal. I guess I hold everyone to their actions, regardless of whether they were ordered to kill kids or not. "I was merely following orders" was the excuse given by many civilian-killing Nazi Auschwitz wardens. It doesn't mean schitt after the children are dead, does it? I know people I've talked out of joining the military, and I know veterans that pray they never had to go to war because of how it completely ruined their lives. My personal motto is "Fuck The Troops" because they are creating huge amnounts of hatred for ordinary US civilians, and it's only a matter of time before the US gets seriously attacked. Again.


"TV hacks keep telling us that Saddam places military targets near civilians. We are meant to infer that this exonerates Bush in advance for any massacres of innocents. But consider this - if Washington were attacked would we think it was our evil government that had intentionally placed strategic targets in the midst of a civilian populace or would we think that only evil lunatics would fire missiles into a large concentration of human life? Saddam is horrible despot but the fact that capital cities are strategic locations, full of civilians, is not the result of his evil planning. This is why it used to be considered unacceptable to bomb cities."
-- Barry Crimmins

alternative 11.Jul.2003 08:01

M

If I can't blow my horn for the troops can I just run them over?

The Troops 11.Jul.2003 16:41

Marty

The troops are working class kids, many of them in their late teens and early twenties. Recruiters come into their schools, especially the low income schools, and lie to them about how much "college money" and "job training" they'll get. Also, many of them are from the National Guard and Reserves these days, and they were told there was "very little chance" they would ever actually have to go to war, that the Guard hadn't gone to war in 30 years- lies, lies, lies. The troops are just kids who believed all the government's lies. So don't blame the troops. Blame George W. and the rest of this fucked government and rotten society.

poor, poor mass murderers - I have no sympathy for professional killers 11.Jul.2003 19:15

GRINGO STARS

Those who are recruited are recruited with the same methods used to recruit fastfood workers, porno actors and suicide bombers. They are told that their situation is hopeless anyways, so why not make some cash along the way.

But US servicepeople also know precisely what the military's job is. It is to kill people. No one lied about that. They were prepeared to kill for their country, and when they finally do it, it all sinks in. True, they were told that war "probably won't happen" but they knew when they signed up that the possibility was there.

Who is responsible when you pull the trigger? Most soldiers would use the Nazi excuse "I was merely following orders" but they will still have bad dreams about what they did. And sooner or later they realize that ONLY they are responsible for their own actions. I am held responsible for my own actions, and they should be too. everyone should be. Quit acting like these "poor" soldiers are the victims. They are NOT any kind of victims. They are killers - they kill civilians. They kill women. They kill children. Today's technology can distance them from the effects of that violence more and more. Saying that it's not their fault doesn't help a thing. They deserve the nation's scorn until they do the right thing.

Anger should be at the ruling class 12.Jul.2003 11:07

Marty

I'd be willing to bet that "Gringo" comes from a more privileged background than the kids over there in the Middle East, many of whom are also people of color. While I'd like to see every single one of them desert the fucking U. S. Army, it won't happen if we direct hatred at them. Lots of soldiers came back from Viet Nam radicalized, and this could very well happen with this mess in Iraq. Save your anger for the ruling class thieves who DESERVE it.

The ruling elite requires duped collaborators in the working class 12.Jul.2003 15:58

GRINGO STARS

I believe that morality is a constant. To kill out of pure obedience, or for money, is as close to evil as one can get, regardless of your socioeconomic background. In Vietnam plenty of working class soldiers did their best to frag middle class officers, some even putting themselves in the line of fire when soldiers were slaughtering civilians. Don't act like the working class is somehow stupid or less moral. My anger IS directed almost exclusively at the ruling clas, but I reserve hatred for those who mimic their own oppressors too. They are willfully ignorant, and taught by our madatory public schools to be intellectually independant;
 http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/historytour/history1.htm

But common sense is not a middle-class value, nor is respect for life. "I needed the money" is never an excuse to not question whether your mercenary leaders are correct when you are PERMANENTLY ending the life of civilian men, women and children.