I only rarely comment publicly on politics and politicians. It’s too easy and in our hyperpartisan world any statement related to any politician or person is an open invitation to flamethrowers. So even if I say this is not a political post, because it’s about a politician it will be viewed that way. But it’s actually my personal opinion of former senator Simpson as a human, not as a Republican. Earlier today Simpson had this to say:
The system that automatically awards disability benefits to some veterans because of concerns about Agent Orange seems contrary to efforts to control federal spending, the Republican co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission said Tuesday.
Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson’s comments came a day after The Associated Press reported that diabetes has become the most frequently compensated ailment among Vietnam veterans, even though decades of research has failed to find more than a possible link between the defoliant Agent Orange and diabetes.
“The irony (is) that the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess”
“It’s the kind of thing that’s just driving us to this $1 trillion, $400 billion deficit this year,” said Simpson of the benefits. “It’s not that I’m an uncaring person, but common sense is the most uncommon thing in Washington.”
Given that the VA has estimated that the total cost of caring for vets exposed to Agent Orange is $67B over the next decade it should be obvious that Simpson’s own statement applies to him first – no common sense. Even if the causal relationship between Agent Orange and vets health issues hasn’t been conclusively proven, and study results disagree, the arithmetic is idiotic. $6.7B for 2010 Viet Nam veterans health benefits for Agent Orange exposure is a pimple on the ass of the overall deficit. Why not look at obsolete programs, administrative overhead, an oppressive acquisition process, and pork in the form of unnecessary weapons programs if you’re looking to reduce the deficit by attacking the defense budget. Why attack the troops here? Draftees fighting an unjustified, unpopular war unknowingly exposed to a known herbicide and poison – well who better than them to provide the starting blocks for the race to fiscal sanity? What a warped view! But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised – shifting the burden of fiscal restraint to the shoulders of those least able to bear it is a hallmark of Simpson’s. Go read about his entire career somewhere else… I don’t give enough of a shit about the man to waste more of my time on him.
Oh yeah, about the hypocritical comment? While serving in congress as a senator for Wyoming, Simpson voted for the law that authorized health care benefits for vets exposed to Agent Orange. Maybe he can’t remember that?
And in the interest of full disclosure – I’m a cold war era veteran of the U.S. Navy Submarine Service.