View Full Version : Congress in Dog Fight over Veterans’ Health Care Funding

09-10-2009, 05:20 PM
A congressional measure guaranteeing increased annual federal payments to veterans’ health care programs failed on June 23 to muster the 60 votes needed in the Senate required for passage.

The measure, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota), would have increased spending for veterans’ health care by 30 percent next year and mandated annual funding increases based on the number of veterans and the cost of health care.

Veterans’ health benefits, delivered through the Veterans Administration (VA), are currently financed by annual appropriations by Congress. Congressional Democrats were proposing to impose annual mandatory financing, which they estimated as costing some $300 billion over 10 years. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry suggested the plan should be financed by tax increases: “The money could come from repealing some of the recent tax cuts for the wealthy,” he said.

But according to John Berthoud, president of the National Taxpayers Union, “Mr. Kerry can’t honestly say the measure could be paid for by reversing some of the Bush tax cuts (i.e., raising taxes), since he’s already proposed spending increases far in excess of any revenue that these tax increases might generate.

“Kerry is proposing a revenue source for the Daschle bill that Mr. Kerry has already over-committed elsewhere,” Berthoud said.

Daschle claimed the bill would have extended access to full health coverage to an additional 500,000 veterans. The measure was introduced as an amendment to a $447 billion defense authorization bill, which the Senate approved, without the Daschle amendment, by a unanimous vote of 97-0.

http://www.heartland.org/policybot/results/15362/Congress_in_Dog_Fight_over_Veterans_Health_Care_Fu nding.html