Webb vs. McCain on the New GI Bill

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?

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6 Responses to Webb vs. McCain on the New GI Bill

  1. Chartreuse Dog says:

    How about making it easier for NCOs to advance their education while still serving?

  2. foutsc says:

    What about the families of troops who have been killed? They only get a paltry 300K or so. Why not give them a million dollar benefit? What about the troops’ children? Don’t our brave firefighters and policemen deserve a benefit like this? If someone has fought for this country, shouldn’t our government buy them a house? Surely you can’t be against that. It would be unpatriotic! See where this leads?

    This is populist nonsense. As Chartreuse Dog points out, the real issue for many enlisted folks is finding the time to go to school. The money is already there.
    Jim Webb is a populist hothead who loves this type of political theater. Of course, if you’re against it you’re not “for the troops.” This is brilliant politics, turning a conservative tactic against conservatives.

    Tax the super rich? They’ll just put their money somewhere else, resulting in less job-producing capital here in the US . Most super-rich don’t really care about ideology or nationality anyway, they just want to maximize profit.

    “A government big enough to give you everything is also big enough to take it all away”
    – Ronald Reagan

    Wake up, America! You’re candyman is broke. He’s borrowing money from China to give you your goodies.

  3. Dave from Oregon says:

    foutsc, you are correct. the candyman is broke. We are borrowing money to pay for our goodies and for our war. We need to declare victory and get the hell out of Iraq within a year.

  4. Yashmak says:

    foutsc is right. Tax revenue has remained constant as a percentage of GDP, so increasing taxes obviously doesn’t provide a net benefit, it just suppresses the economy. Plus, this tax would be leveled against the people providing jobs for our servicemen when they return. . .which doesn’t seem all that wise a move.

    Seems like common sense, but apparently some like Webb either can’t wrap their minds around it, or are more interested in playing political games then worrying about this nation’s best interests.

  5. Romeo13 says:

    Retired Navy here…

    If Servicemen get a free ride to college after only 3 years of service, it would be impossible to fill the ranks.

    First off, you enlist for SIX years… part active, then part in the reserves (Active or inactive, depending on your contract). This would have to be changed.

    It would also drasticly alter the recruits coming in. Initialy you would get better recruits, as they would join for th benefit, but then after 3 years they would be gone.

    I know in my career feild of Navy electronics tech it took close to TWO YEARS for me to hit the fleet and do my job. Bootcamp, then schools, took a full two years. So for me the Navy would have ONE year of productive service?

    Bad idea.

  6. foutsc says:

    Dave from Oregon: I hope we can get out. If current trends continue, we may be able to do just that.

    http://foutsc.blogspot.com/2008/05/media-ignores-iraq-progress.html

    Even the NY Times is saying good things. Iraqi troops went into Sadr City without US troops, although we are providing air and logistics support. The trendline is pointing the right way, lets pray it continues.
    We will never be completely out of the Middle East. Even Obama has said we’ll have troops in Kuwait. I hope everybody realizes that.

    Back to the GI bill. The current benefit is around 25K-35K, I think. Also, each service provides money for troops to go to school while on active duty (if they have time for it). Hundreds of thousands of GIs have gotten degrees using current benefits, so it’s not like we’re leaving people out in the cold by not supporting Webb’s bill.

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