Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bush Smears Congress Using Military Pay Hike He Threatened To Veto

I would ask how George W. Bush sleeps at night but, knowing that he's not much of a deep thinker and doesn't possess much in the way of conscience, I would bet he sleeps more soundly than Rush Limbaugh on an Oxycontin bender.

The latest bit of reality-defying hypocrisy from Bush comes in the form of a speech he gave yesterday morning, in which he bashed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democrats for yanking the Defense Authorization bill from consideration -- after Republicans filibustered yet another Iraq vote -- and implied that Democrats are against a military pay raise.

"It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field, and give them everything they need to succeed," said Bush. "Even members of Congress who no longer support our effort in Iraq should at least be able to provide an increase in pay for our troops fighting there."

What Bush leaves out, of course, is that just a couple of months ago, he threatened to veto a House defense spending bill over a 3.5 percent pay increase for the troops. The Democratic-sponsored increase was more than Bush had asked for and the administration called the additional pay hike for the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan "unnecessary."

Oh, and they also didn’t like the radical proposal calling for a $40-per-month increase in the death benefit for surviving spouses of military war dead.

Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq war Veteran, blasted Bush on the House floor on May 22 when the veto threat was issued:
"So in the Defense bill that gave the troops a 3.5 percent pay increase, a pay increase because there is such a gap, such a disparity between the private sector and our servicemen and women and their salaries. When they join the military, they are not trying to make a lot of money. But the fact is that those privates who are making $17,000 a year, those privates that are leaving their wives and kids at home, many of whom have to survive on food stamps, those privates who saw what we did in the Defense bill, who said that is great, 3.5 percent pay increase, a couple hundred dollars a year. The President of the United States said, "Private, thank you for your service to your country, but that is too much of a pay increase.'

"I hope the people at home are watching. The President of the United States said a couple hundred dollars more a year to a private making $17,000 a year is too much.

"How do the soldiers feel that are running convoys up and down Ambush Alley, scouting on the streets for roadside bombs and looking for snipers on rooftops, when they hear their President back at home, the President of the United States thinks a couple hundred dollars more a year is too much. The President says, hey, it would add up over the next 5 years, $7.3 billion; that is a lot of money."
Murphy also pointed out how Bush has a problem with a drop-in-the-bucket raise for the troops he claims to love so much but no such concern about billions in waste and fraud with America's military contractors.

"The same standard that the President uses where he says it is too much for the troops, it is not too much for the contractors who have proven that they mismanage over $9 billion of our hard-earned money, the contractors who don't want any accountability and don't want to see the light of day," said Murphy, in May.

And Reid responded rapidly yesterday to Bush implying that Congress doesn’t support a pay raise for the troops when it was the White House that said they “strongly oppose” the 3.5 percent raise for 2008 and any future increases in military pay.

“Democrats and a majority of Americans believe that supporting the troops means rebuilding our overburdened military and redeploying our troops from an Iraqi civil war," said Senator Reid on Friday. "It is the height of hypocrisy for a President whose Administration has sent our brave men and women into combat without the proper equipment, recuperation time, training or strategy for success to lecture Congress about supporting the troops."

“If our military’s wellbeing were truly a priority for this President, as he indicated this morning, why has his Administration for the past several months opposed military pay raises as too costly and blocked everything we have done to support the troops? I hope, but highly doubt, that President Bush will one day realize that supporting our troops is more than a slogan or a photo op.”

Amazingly, George W. Bush and Congressional Republicans continue to think they can fool Americans into believing it is they, and not Democrats, who truly support the troops despite documented hypocrisy like this and the fact that just 10 days ago, Senate GOP leaders killed a Democratic bill that would have protected the troops by mandating longer downtime at home between combat deployments.

They can keep trying, but the pool of people dumb enough to believe their lies gets smaller every day.