THE BLOG

Michele Bachmann: Smart Publicity Stunt or Just Out of Touch With Reality? (VIDEO)

01/31/2011 04:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Torrey Shannon Writer, Dole Foundation Caregiver Fellow, wife of a Wounded Warrior

"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."
- Dalai Lama

Last week Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) did one of two things: She either pulled a strategic negative publicity stunt or one of the biggest political faux pas of the century. Either way, she has just proven to the world that she isn't in touch with reality as a whole.

Much like her Tea Party partner did during the Sarah Palin's Alaska episode when Sarah invited Kate Gosselin to a "comfort-filled" camping trip, Michele's latest news is resonating across the headlines like a reality-TV publicity stunt.

On January 24th, Michelle Bachmann released a proposal to cut more than $400 billion in federal spending. In her proposal she targeted veteran benefits using the following language:

"Reduce Veterans' Disability Compensation to account for Social Security Disability Insurance payments."

Bottom line: This is just a fancy way for her to say that our nation's heroes are not entitled to the Social Security benefits that they paid into and rightfully deserve. She knows she can't strip a deserving class of citizens of Social Security, so this is a strategic angle to accomplish the same outcome.

Michele adds, "I'm calling for Congress to do the hard work of making real and necessary cuts in federal spending."

Does she really want to do that to disabled veterans who are already living below the poverty level? Is this actually considered "real and necessary?" Or, is she just trying to get people to pay attention to her purposeful controversy? It makes you scratch your head and wonder. I know I did.

Using Michele Bachmann's own words on her website, she states:

"It is imperative that America's military men and women receive the support they deserve for the sacrifices they have made. Our members of the Armed Forces have fought to preserve the freedoms we cherish and I believe Congress must be steadfast in honoring our commitment to them."

Three days after her first proposal was introduced, the same proposal was republished noting some glaring errors. It seems that fact-checking and accounting are not her forte.

In both proposals, I noticed that she misspelled "Amtrak." We all make mistakes. However, the first proposal also included the following cut in Defense spending:

Defense:
$35.6 Billion According to Secretary Gates ( $178 Billion 5 year projections)

Yet the second proposal now shows a misrepresentation of $100 Billion dollars and a $20 Billion dollar adjustment:

Defense
$15.6 Billion According to Secretary Gates' ( $78 Billion 5 year projections)

But there is more.

Pay special attention during her rebuttal to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address:

In this rebuttal, she gives some interesting facts and figures about unemployment rates, but does it with a spin. She says that when Obama took office the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. She later attributes the current unemployment rate of 9.4 percent to President Obama. She explains the current rate of 9.4 percent by saying, "It hasn't been lower for 20 straight months."

What she didn't tell you is that the unemployment rate is actually decreasing. The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 9.4 percent in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Considering the fact that I am virtually unemployed, making only $700 in 2010 (down from the respectable $60K I used to make as a government-contracted employee) I can say that I am not paid for my political observations. I am not earning a respectable paycheck right now because I am caring for a disabled veteran. Trust me when I say that the income my family relies on to survive, using the combination of a VA disability pension and Social Security benefits, are the very funds that Bachmann is targeting to cut. These cuts will put more families into bankruptcy courts, foreclosure, and ultimately leave them homeless.

This terrifies me. The shock value alone has made her a household name in veteran homes across the nation.

But all things considered, even I can see the real reason why unemployment is so high. It's time for Michele Bachmann to have a reality check and steer clear of the reality-TV tactics.

Our nation's veterans have come home for nearly the last 10 years of this war to unemployment lines. In November 2010, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America reported approximately 201,000 new veterans are out of work and looking for jobs. This does not even account for the number of caretakers who gave up their jobs to give 24/7 care to their wounded and disabled loved ones.

At one point in 2010, the young veteran unemployment rate was a staggering 21.1 percent.

My theory is that the increased unemployment rate is due to the cumulative number of wounded veterans and the caretakers that had to give up their jobs over a ten-year period, and compounded when combined with all the servicemembers who have returned from their duty overseas to stand in unemployment lines.

It's not Obama that drove up the unemployment rate. It's the war, which was not started under Obama's helm.

If Michele Bachmann really wants to address the real reason for the increased unemployment rate, perhaps she can hire a few veterans to fact check her numbers and proofread her proposals before they hit the press.

And the least she could do is support our veterans like she promised, instead of hurting them.