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McCain Consistently Works Against Veterans' Best Interests

10/13/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

John McCain does not support veterans. Like most Republicans, he regularly votes against legislation that would increase the VA budget for veterans' programs dealing with the problems facing our men and women returning from war. These guys like to strut around at national veterans' organization conventions like they are our pals, mouthing sweet nothings about how much they care for us, when it is all a pack of lies. It is sickening, in fact, to watch these groups fawn over these cretins, apparently oblivious to these facts or, worse, ignoring it because Republicans like McCain and Lindsey Graham jump up and down on a daily basis about the War in Iraq, we have to win, stay there forever and so on. I resigned from the Veterans of Foreign War with an obscenity-laden email when they endorsed a Republican candidate for Congress over Tammy Duckworth, a progressive Democrat. Tammy was a helicopter pilot who was shot down in Iraq and lost both legs. The Republican had never served. Yet, the VFW endorsed the Republican because they claim he was "stronger on defense." I thought I would throw up. That's what this country will get if John McCain is elected president.

Before the 2006 congressional elections, Disabled American Veterans published a list of how members of Congress voted on veterans legislation. The DAV rates each member of Congress from 0 - 100 on supporting "the interests of American veterans." I looked down the DAV's list of Republicans and their ratings, and I was overcome with revulsion when I saw just how much they do not care about veterans. John McCain's score for 2005 was 25 out of 100. In 2006, it was worse: he got a 20. It took my breath away. When it comes to caring for American veterans, John McCain and the Republicans are a total sellout.

284 Republican congressmen and senators were rated by the DAV for 2005. This was when the Republicans controlled both the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, so don't ever tell me that Larry Craig and Steve Buyer were overly concerned about our needs. The highest score the DAV gave any Republican was 83. No Republican had a 100 rating, none were in the nineties. None in the seventies, one at 60 and six at 50. That's a total of eight Republicans--out of 284--that supported veterans' issues more than 50% of the time. That's a whopping 2.8% of all the Republicans in the Congress. 200 Republican got 0 ratings!! Thus, 70.4% of the Republican members of Congress got zero ratings from the DAV when it came to truly supporting America's veterans.

In 2005, Barack Obama was rated at 92. In 2006, Obama was an 80. The DAV rated 239 Democrats on how they voted on veterans' issues in 2005. 154 were rated by the DAV at 100. That's 64.4% of the Democrats in the Congress, versus 0% of the Republicans. Thirteen Democratic members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee were rated by the DAV in 2005. Nine were rated at 100, three were at 80, and one was at 60, the lowest rating of any Democrat in the Congress. Of the twelve Republicans on the House Committee who were rated, eleven were rated at zero, one was rated at 20. Thus, the average Democrat on the House Committee was rated at 92; the average Republican was rated at 1.66. In the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, the average score of the eight Republicans on the Committee in 2005 was a lowly 40.7, while the five Democrats' and the one Independent's average was 92.

Here's what McCain has done for veterans recently:

● Did not support new GI bill legislation because he thought it was too generous and would result in soldiers choosing to go to school instead of reenlisting. This bill passed 75-22 and McCain was one of three Senators who didn't show up to vote. Only after the bill was attached to the war funding request of the Bush administration, did McCain vote for the Webb bill. All 22 votes against the bill were by Republicans.
● Voted against providing at least $19 billion for military health facilities, paid for by eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy.
● Voted against providing $2.8 billion to increase veterans' medical care.
● Voted against establishing a $1 billion trust fund to provide improvements to health facilities that treat veterans and military personnel paid for by allowing dividends and capital gains tax breaks, for those with incomes greater than $1 million, to lapse.
● Voted against increasing medical services to veterans by $1.5 billion in 2007, paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.
● In April 2006, McCain was one of 13 Senators to vote against $430 million for medical services for VA outpatient care and treatment for veterans. Despite his vote against, it passed overwhelmingly, 84-13. All 13 voting against were Republicans.

John McCain was recently questioned at a town hall meeting by an Iraq veteran about his refusal to support Senator Jim Webb's GI Bill. McCain, responding in a testy and angry fashion, claimed that he has the support of veterans' organizations. This was a materially false statement. In addition to the DAV ratings noted above, they rated McCain at 50 in 2004. Also in 2004, the Retired Enlisted Association rated McCain at 0. In 2003, the American Legion gave McCain a 50. In 2006, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America graded McCain a D on an A-F scale. They gave Barack Obama a B+. And during the recent debates over Senator Webb's GI Bill, both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign War said McCain was wrong not to support the bill. Maybe they support his stand on Iraq, but it simply cannot be said that they favor his votes against important veterans' legislation.

If you care about veterans, these are the issues you should be thinking about when you vote in November.