Today’s New York Times features a good overview story by Steven Lee Myers about Webb’s new GI Bill versus a proposed McCain alternative. McCain’s bill offers less money and longer qualifying times (an effort to aid retention). His key objection to the Webb bill, despite the issue of retention, is that it is too expensive ($52 billion over 10 years) and that the Dems will pay for it by taxing the rich. McCain proposes to pay for his bill through a reduction in discretionary spending.
I am all for reductions is discretionary spending, but not at the expense of the best possible bill for GIs. Not only will this bill honor their service, but it will be a boon to the United States in the long term as hundreds of thousands of soldier receive a college education.
Bottom line, McCain (and Bush) are wrong about this one. Give the soldiers the money they deserve, when they deserve it, and let those who have benefited most from their work, pay for it.
Oh, and one other thing.
From the article: “The effect benefits might have on retention is disputed. The Congressional Budget Office, in its cost analysis, estimated that the benefits would result in a 16 percent drop in re-enlistments, a number opponents have repeatedly cited. But the office also predicted a 16 percent increase in recruitment because of the new benefits.”
However, if retaining NCOs really might become a problem, I would encourage Webb and Hagel to amend the bill to ensure longer service. Perhaps tying benefits to joining the Reserves?