06/30/2011 03:43 pm ET | Updated Aug 30, 2011

Homeless Veterans Should Not Be "On the Table"

In respect to efforts to reduce the debt and the deficit, members of Congress constantly insist that "everything is on the table." Of course, that is not true. Republicans oppose any increase in taxes, and those that subscribe to the Norquist No-Tax Pledge also oppose any reduction or elimination of deductions or subsidies.* Republicans have proposed a $75 million reduction in vouchers for homeless veterans. There is a dispute as to whether or not this proposal adversely affects homeless veterans now or in the future, but there is no question that Republicans have put this subject on the table as one of the ways to reduce spending.

I expect that this is another example of the "trickle-down" theory. By permitting the very rich to maintain their tax cuts, they can buy expensive art work. A multi-millionaire can buy a Picasso, the gallery earns a commission, someone is paid to box the painting, someone is hired to deliver it, the driver buys a cup of coffee after the delivery and he drops his change in the cup of the wounded veteran lying on the sidewalk in front of Starbucks. Ergo---"trickle down" at work.

I do not pretend to be an expert on veteran affairs. What caught my attention was a CBS report this week that there were 8,000 homeless veterans in Los Angeles. 8,000 in LA alone! Although the Obama administration and private veteran organizations are trying to stem the tide, I was shocked to discover that an average of 100,000 veterans are homeless every night. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports that "about 1.5 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness."

I have read the Republican justification for proposing this cut, but it would seem to me that if one were to choose between giving a rich person the opportunity to buy a Picasso or thousands of wounded veterans a place to live, one might be tempted to choose the latter. Also I suspect that if these veterans were draftees rather than volunteers, there would be far fewer left on the streets. Indeed, if they were draftees, they probably would not be returning from wars in the first place.

*I have previously written that I believe the Norquist No-Tax Pledge violates the Congressional oath of office.