When Veterans Secretary Robert McDonald went before a Senate spending panel this week, he leveled a full scale attack against a 2016 budget plan being developed by Republicans in the House, charging that it would cut over a billion dollars in funding for the VA and deny health care to thousands of veterans.
But the actual budget numbers involved don’t back up his charge – instead of a budget cut, the House GOP plan would increase the VA budget in 2016.
“Not surprisingly, the VA is yet again employing fuzzy math and misrepresenting the truth,” said a statement from Concerned Veterans for America:
On Wednesday, McDonald told the Senate Appropriations Committee that major cuts would occur in veterans medical care and VA construction projects, as he said veterans would “suffer” from the Republican plan.
“The impact of these cuts to veterans care and benefits is unacceptable to me and I know it is unacceptable to members of Congress,” McDonald said in his testimony.
On the VA website, the Obama Administration amplified the VA Secretary’s attacks, rolling out a series of graphics to attack the GOP plan.
Among the charges leveled at the GOP budget:
+ “It would cut veterans medical care by $690 million,” which McDonald said would mean 70,000 veterans would not receive medical care
+ It would “eliminate funding” for four major VA construction projects in St. Louis, two California projects in Alameda and Stockton, and one in Perry Point, Maryland.
+ McDonald also said the House GOP plan would “also eliminate funding for cemetery expansion projects” in Missouri, Oregon, California and in Pensacola, Florida – McDonald said that would deny 18,000 families from getting burial honors that their relatives are eligible for.
The bottom line from the VA chief was that the House GOP budget plan would “cause veterans to suffer.”
Is it really a “budget cut?”
When you compare the numbers offered up by the VA Secretary and by Republicans in the House, the budget picture is clear – this GOP plan is not an actual budget cut when compared to current funding.
Instead, it merely has less money in it than what was proposed by President Obama.
In that comparison, the GOP plan would spend a bit less than the President’s proposal – $1.2 billion according to Republicans, $1.4 billion according to the VA.
Republicans in the House say their plan would increase overall spending for the VA by $4.6 billion.
Some might not describe that as a “budget cut.”
One interesting note about the budget attack leveled this week by the VA chief – the text of his accusations against House Republicans was not included in his written testimony provided to the Senate Appropriations Committee.