Indefensible and Dishonorable (updated)

Veterans groups who met with Obama, Emanuel and VA head Eric Shinseki on Monday were told that Obama wants to have veterans pay for their service-related medical issues through their own private insurance companies.  White House press secretary Gibbs dispensed the usual platitudes and empty rhetoric, saying no decision has been made, and that "veterans can be assured the president understands their concerns," but the administration is still thinking about the idea as a way of generating $540 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010.

There are many practical reasons why this is a bad proposal, as it could result in veterans maxing out their private coverage and jeopardizing their family's coverage; their premiums could be greatly increased; and some expenses would no doubt fall through the cracks and not be covered at all. Insurance companies would be forced to raise their rates - maybe not just for veterans, but for everyone.

And then recruiters would have to include in their pitch "Oh, and if you are wounded, you are responsible for your medical expenses."  

Obama's position in Monday's meeting was all the more surprising because strong opposition to the plan was already on the record:

The opposition is not a surprise to the White House. The groups had sent a letter opposing the idea when it was just a rumor. Last week, Congress weighed in when members of both the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees told Shinseki at separate meetings that they objected to the plan.  Shinseki was told by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, that it would be "dead on arrival." Rep. Mike Michaud, D- Maine, said that if it were presented, he would oppose the entire budget.  It is unconscionable, and it is an insult to our veterans who have been hurt overseas," Michaud said. "It is just unbelievable that anyone would ever think of doing that in this budget."

Monday's meeting concluded with Obama following his usual pattern of dodging responsibility and throwing the ball back in the other guy's court, putting the onus on the veterans groups to come up with a better idea to fund our military personnel's medical recoveries: "I got the distinct impression that the only hope of this plan not being enacted is for an alternative plan to be developed that would generate the desired $540 million in revenue," Cmdr. David Rehbein of the American Legion said in a written statement.

Since when is it up to our veterans to find a way to pay for their service-related medical issues?  This president is totally lacking any idea of fundamental American values.  It is apparently a foreign concept to him that our country must take care of those who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom and prosperity.  Then again, freedom and prosperity are apparently not too high on his value list.  While this issue is such an outrage that no Congress person in his or her right mind would ever support it, the fact remains that Obama and his inner cabal think it is a good idea, good enough to use more political capital on.

Update:

After an outcry from veterans organizations and congress, Obama decided Wednesday afternoon to drop his proposal to bill veteran's private insurance carriers for treatment of combat-related injuries.  Press secretary Gibbs said the president has "instructed its consideration be dropped."  A veterans' spokesman issued a statement saying that the administration is "upholding our sacred trust with America's veterans. Veterans of all generations are celebrating this decision."
 
Veterans groups who met with Obama, Emanuel and VA head Eric Shinseki on Monday were told that Obama wants to have veterans pay for their service-related medical issues through their own private insurance companies.  White House press secretary Gibbs dispensed the usual platitudes and empty rhetoric, saying no decision has been made, and that "veterans can be assured the president understands their concerns," but the administration is still thinking about the idea as a way of generating $540 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010.

There are many practical reasons why this is a bad proposal, as it could result in veterans maxing out their private coverage and jeopardizing their family's coverage; their premiums could be greatly increased; and some expenses would no doubt fall through the cracks and not be covered at all. Insurance companies would be forced to raise their rates - maybe not just for veterans, but for everyone.

And then recruiters would have to include in their pitch "Oh, and if you are wounded, you are responsible for your medical expenses."  

Obama's position in Monday's meeting was all the more surprising because strong opposition to the plan was already on the record:

The opposition is not a surprise to the White House. The groups had sent a letter opposing the idea when it was just a rumor. Last week, Congress weighed in when members of both the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees told Shinseki at separate meetings that they objected to the plan.  Shinseki was told by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, that it would be "dead on arrival." Rep. Mike Michaud, D- Maine, said that if it were presented, he would oppose the entire budget.  It is unconscionable, and it is an insult to our veterans who have been hurt overseas," Michaud said. "It is just unbelievable that anyone would ever think of doing that in this budget."

Monday's meeting concluded with Obama following his usual pattern of dodging responsibility and throwing the ball back in the other guy's court, putting the onus on the veterans groups to come up with a better idea to fund our military personnel's medical recoveries: "I got the distinct impression that the only hope of this plan not being enacted is for an alternative plan to be developed that would generate the desired $540 million in revenue," Cmdr. David Rehbein of the American Legion said in a written statement.

Since when is it up to our veterans to find a way to pay for their service-related medical issues?  This president is totally lacking any idea of fundamental American values.  It is apparently a foreign concept to him that our country must take care of those who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom and prosperity.  Then again, freedom and prosperity are apparently not too high on his value list.  While this issue is such an outrage that no Congress person in his or her right mind would ever support it, the fact remains that Obama and his inner cabal think it is a good idea, good enough to use more political capital on.

Update:

After an outcry from veterans organizations and congress, Obama decided Wednesday afternoon to drop his proposal to bill veteran's private insurance carriers for treatment of combat-related injuries.  Press secretary Gibbs said the president has "instructed its consideration be dropped."  A veterans' spokesman issued a statement saying that the administration is "upholding our sacred trust with America's veterans. Veterans of all generations are celebrating this decision."