And quite right, too. Opposing this bill is political suicide. The bill, which is sponsored by my VP pick Jim Webb and Chuck Hagel, will provide a full four-year college tuition to qualifying vets. It’s an absolute no-brainer.
McCain’s problem with the bill is that he thinks it’s too expensive. He thinks we can’t afford it. This is the kind of Bush-like “principled” intransigence we can expect from a President McCain. Look, if we can afford tax cuts for the wealthy during a war, we can afford to spring for a young soldier’s college education. Of all the places to try and save a few bucks, this is clearly the wrong one.
At any rate, he’s either going to flip-flop on this bill (which I doubt), or he’s going to pay a steep price with the public. As I have previously written, this bill exposes Republican hypocrisy on the military in spades.
For are some facts about the bill from Jim Webb’s website:
Currently, veterans’ educational benefits are administered under the Montgomery G.I. Bill—a program designed primarily for peacetime – not wartime – service. With many of our troops having served two, three or four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is past time to enact a new veterans’ education program modeled on the World War II era G.I. bill. These individuals have a short window of time in which to take advantage of an educational benefit after serving, and with six years already passed since 9/11, that window is now closing for many.
The G.I. Bill of the World War II era sparked economic growth and expansion for a whole generation of Americans; a more robust G.I. bill holds the same potential for today’s economy. The United States has never erred when it has made sustained new investments in higher education and job training – and its veterans. Educated veterans have higher income levels, which in the long run increases tax revenues. Approximately 7.8 million veterans used the benefits in some form, out of a wartime veteran population of 15 million. For every dollar invested in WWII veterans, seven dollars were generated.
A strong and reliable G.I. bill will have a positive effect on military recruitment. Better educated veterans also have a more positive readjustment experience and lower levels of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The education of our nation’s veterans is a cost of war. A very small percentage of Americans have stepped forward to serve our country through military service; they have earned the right to have a bright future when they have completed their service. A G.I. bill that properly rewards honorable service is the right thing to do. The estimated $2.5 – $4 billion a year needed for the program equals less than one week of war in Iraq.
Three former Presidents, a dozen U.S. Senators, three Supreme Court Justices and fourteen Nobel Prize winners went to school on the G.I. bill. Under today’s Montgomery G.I. Bill, these same leaders would receive only a fraction of the money necessary to get the same level of education.