Robert Naiman / Just Foreign Policy – 2014-01-24 23:03:25
(January 24, 2014) — As economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have long argued , a crucial cost of a war is caring for veterans afterwards.
Now, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing to use money authorized for the war in Afghanistan to pay for his veterans’ benefits bill, including reversing the recent cuts to military pensions.  18 military and veterans’ organizations have backed the Sanders bill. 
In addition to providing a direct benefit to veterans, Sanders’ proposal, if enacted, would help right a fundamental and dangerous wrong: pretending that caring for veterans is not a cost of war. But some House Republicans oppose Senator Sanders’ proposal. These Republicans are fine with using war funding to protect the base Pentagon budget from cuts, but they oppose using war funding to help veterans.
Help stop House Republicans from killing Senator Sanders’ proposal. Urge Congress and the President to support Sanders’ proposal to use war funding to pay for veterans’ benefits by signing our petition. When you sign our petition, it will be automatically delivered to your Representative, your US Senators, and President Obama:
To be delivered to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama
Senator Bernie Sanders is right.
We should use money authorized for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay for veterans’ benefits, including reversing the cuts to military pensions in the Ryan-Murray budget deal.
1. “The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond,” Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes, Washington Post, Sunday, September 5, 2010
2. “Sanders wants to pay for military pension fix with funding from wars,” Jeremy Herb, The Hill, January 22, 2014,
3. “Senator Suggests Using War Funds to Pay for Vets Benefits Bill,” Jordain Carney, National Journal, January 23, 2014,
Vermont’s Sen. Sanders Is Right:
Use War Money to Take Care of Veterans
Robert Naiman / The Huffington Post
(January 24, 2014) — Sometimes Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders does something that reminds us that it does actually matter that he’s an Independent in the best sense of the word: thinking for himself, not accepting the D.C. “conventional wisdom” that often defines the limits of reform.
Now, Bernie’s done it again, proposing to use war funding to pay for veterans’ benefits, with the most politically salient feature of his proposal being its reversal to the military pension cuts included in the Ryan-Murray budget deal.
The Hill reports:
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) says he wants to pay for restoring $6 billion in cuts to military pensions by tapping funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sanders told reporters Wednesday that he was eyeing overseas contingency operations (OCO) to pay for most — if not all — of the $30 billion veterans omnibus bill he introduced last week, which includes the repeal of the military retirement benefits cut.
The Veterans Affairs chairman said he believed funds typically used by the Pentagon and State Department for overseas wars should also extend to veterans back at home.
“We use OCO for defense, and I think it’s totally legitimate to use it for those who defend us,” Sanders said. “I think a significant amount, or all of it, could come from OCO â€¦ I believe having looked at this, there is more than enough money in that fund to fund this legislation.”
The National Journal notes that 18 military and veterans organizations have backed Sanders’ proposal, and Sanders says that he believes it will soon have the support of every major veterans organization in the country.
Economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have long argued that we fundamentally undercount the cost of war if we exclude the cost of caring for veterans afterwards. The future cost of caring for veterans is a fundamental cost of war, and honest budgeting would include it in accounting for war cost.
In addition to providing direct benefit to veterans, Sanders’ proposal, if enacted, would help right a fundamental and dangerous wrong: pretending that caring for veterans is not a cost of war.
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