The New GI Bill is a Good Idea; But Most of the OC GOP House Delegation Voted No

The Troops, and the support of the Troops, have been used as pawns by Republicans since the Iraq War began. 


Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who wore his son’s combat books while running against George Allen in 2006, came up with a great idea to support the troops.  Its passed the House and the Senate and now awaits the president’s signature.  Read about it here and there’s more detail after the jump.

But those Republican Congressional leaders from OC surely support the troops; don’t they?  Nope.  Rep. Rohrabacher, Rep. Royce, and Rep, Miller all voted no on the new GI bill.  Rep. Campbell did not take a vote on this.  So if you see them at some community event on Memorial Day, ask them why they don’t support the troops.

 In 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the original GI Bill, ensuring that eight million combat veterans coming home from Germany and Japan would be able to afford an education. Called the “Servicemen’s Readjustment Act,” the World War II GI Bill covered tuition, fees, and books, and gave veterans a living stipend while they were in school. Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, Senators Bob Dole and Patrick Moynihan, and authors Norman Mailer and Frank McCourt all relied on the GI Bill.

         Experts have argued that the GI Bill “reinvented America” after a half-decade of war. Indeed, a 1988 Congressional study showed that every dollar spent on educational benefits under the original GI Bill added seven dollars to the national economy in terms of productivity, consumer spending, and tax revenue. But in his signing statement, President Roosevelt spoke more simply:

“[The GI Bill] gives emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down.”

         Today, 1.5 million troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to a very different future than the one FDR made possible for the Greatest Generation. The current educational benefits offered to veterans are far lower than the original GI Bill. Today, after paying a nonrefundable contribution from their first military paychecks, troops can receive a total of up to $39,600 towards their education. Unfortunately, this covers only 60-70% of the average cost of four years at a public college or university, or less than two years at a typical private college.

          In addition, structural problems and bureaucratic delays discourage veterans from using their GI Bill benefits. National Guardsmen and Reservists, including those who have served multiple combat tours, typically receive only a fraction of their GI Bill benefits. Moreover, 30% of troops who pay the nonrefundable $1,200 contribution do not end up using the GI Bill at all. These veterans have paid the government $230 million, but received nothing in return.

         Today’s veterans deserve a real reintegration program to help adjust to the civilian world. At the same time, a renewed GI Bill is a practical answer to the military’s troop shortage. Despite investing $4 billion in recruiting annually, the military has had serious problems recruiting high-caliber personnel. The Pentagon has responded by lowering age, education, and aptitude standards for new recruits, as well as upping the number of recruiters and increasing enlistment bonuses. These stopgap measures will not address long-term problems with recruiting, especially as the overall size of the armed forces is expanded.

         Rather than continuing to spend billions in bonuses for lower-standard enlistees, increasing GI Bill benefits would encourage high-aptitude young people to join the military. The GI Bill is the military’s single most effective recruitment tool: the number-one reason civilians join the military is to get money for college. As our military recovers and resets in the coming years, an expanded GI Bill will play a crucial role in ensuring that our military remains the strongest and most advanced in the world.

  11 comments for “The New GI Bill is a Good Idea; But Most of the OC GOP House Delegation Voted No

  1. hb citizen
    May 22, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    These OC congressmen are yellow ribbon republicans — the most support they’ll give the men and women in uniform is a sticker on the bumper of their SUV.

    They can’t bring themselves to support real, meaningful rewards for serving their country?

  2. sa citizen
    May 22, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    The bill mandated troop withdrawals and sought to govern the conduct of the Iraq war.

    Perhaps this cynical language in the bill is the reason Republicans voted no on the bill.

  3. EZ
    May 23, 2008 at 11:50 am

    The bill was cynically designed by the dems in a fashion as to have no hope of passage by the Senate.

    It is an attempt to embarass Republicans, who overwhelmingly support the troops, by forcing a vote on a bill which was knowingly doomed.

    This political maneuver was an abuse of our troops.

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    May 23, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    from Crooks and

    The Senate has overwhelmingly passed a new GI bill and billions in new domestic spending as part of the $165 billion Iraq war funding bill pending before Congress.

    The 75-22 vote marked a resounding victory for Senate Democrats as well as Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who has battled to expand the educational benefits for soldiers who served in Iraq. The vote was the first critical hurdle in a three vote package on the Iraq war funding bill. The measure also included a 13 week extension of unemployment insurance, home heating assistance and other domestic spending add ons. President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, which will top $200 billion with the extra spending. […]

    ***What was most surprising was not that the domestic funding amendment and the GI bill won a majority of the Senate votes, but that half of the Senate’s 49 Republicans bucked President Bush and GOP presidential candidate John McCain to back the dramatically expanded GI bill.**** Many uncertain Republicans stood in the well of the Senate, taking their time to make a decision. Virtually every GOP senator who is politically vulnerable this year voted for the domestic spending, including Sens. John Sununu of New Hampshire and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

  5. EZ
    May 27, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Dan C:

    I am confused. Was your post intended to chastize Republicans for (a) not supporting the troops or for (b) not increasing unrelated domestic pork barrel spending?

    Or was it (c) – taking a cheap shot at Republicans while falsely expressing support for the troops?

  6. Dan Chmielewski
    May 27, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Well, we should support our troops through this new bill. The Senate vote confims it as did the House vote. If the president vetoes it on “spending grounds,” that is ironic given how much federal money is going to pay contractors such as BlackWater over the going rate of our our soldiers.

    What’s more an abuse of our troops; this bill or standing in front of a “MIssion Accomplished” banner while still sending them back for a second, third or fourth tour of duty in Iraq?

  7. EZ
    May 27, 2008 at 11:03 am

    The Senate and the House voted on different bills.

    From the Washington Post (5/23/08):

    “Senators stripped the package of all language that mandated troop withdrawals and sought to govern the conduct of the Iraq war, which had been in a previous version approved by the House.”

    As for your “spending grounds” comment – the House version was loaded with domestic pork barrel spending which was not related to troop support.

    The bill which passed the Senate was NOT the same bill that passed the House. Perhaps in conference committee the two versions of the bill will be melded into something the Republicans would be happy to vote in favor of to support the troops.

  8. Dan Chmielewski
    May 27, 2008 at 11:28 am

    well, then they will sort if all out. I would sure hate to see those poor Republicans forced to voting for a bill that supports the troops when it actually does support the troops. Don’t you have a problem with the blank checks Bush wants Congress to approve for Iraqi war funding every few months for so?

  9. Dan Chmielewski
    May 27, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    from yesterday’s NY Times:

    “President Bush opposes a new G.I. Bill of Rights. He worries that if the traditional path to college for service members since World War II is improved and expanded for the post-9/11 generation, too many people will take it.

    “He is wrong, but at least he is consistent. Having saddled the military with a botched, unwinnable war, having squandered soldiers’ lives and failed them in so many ways, the commander in chief now resists giving the troops a chance at better futures out of uniform. He does this on the ground that the bill is too generous and may discourage re-enlistment, further weakening the military he has done so much to break…

    “Thankfully, the new G.I. Bill has strong bipartisan support in Congress. The House passed it by a veto-proof margin this month, and last week the Senate followed suit, approving it as part of a military financing bill for Iraq and Afghanistan…

    “Mr. Bush — and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain — have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons. They would prefer that college benefits for service members remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform are more likely to stay put…

    “This page strongly supports a larger, sturdier military. It opposes throwing ever more money at the Pentagon for defense programs that are wasteful and poorly conceived. But as a long-term investment in human capital, in education and job training, there is no good argument against an expanded, generous G.I. Bill…

    “As partial repayment for the sacrifice of soldiers in a time of war, a new, improved G.I. Bill is as wise now as it was in 1944.”

  10. EZ
    May 27, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Whoa !! – just throw the “Old Grey Lady” at me Vern. You have busted my arguements all to heck with that non-partisan, non-biased screed.

    I give up you win.

    Actually, I give up if that is the best you can do. I thought that you were going to put up an actual arguement of your own. Or have you replaced your brain with the New York Times?

  11. EZ
    May 27, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    oops, I apologize Dan for calling you Vern. I am debating a similar subject with Vern.

    See? I can juggle you both with one hand tied behind my back.

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