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Darrell Issa Loves Veterans at Home, Fails Them in Washington

by: Lucas O'Connor

Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:54:26 PM PDT

At the end of August, Congressman Darrell Issa came to San Diego to discuss the Navy Broadway Complex development in the downtown harbor area.  While he was in town, he sat down for an interview with Navy Compass discussing broad themes of military and foreign relations.  NavyCompass does a great job with the questions, keeping them relevant to their content but ranging across a wide range of relevant issues.  He hits all the well-known pro-military talking points that Republicans love to throw around in public, but in the process draws a sharp distinction between talking the talk and walking the walk.  So how does Congressman Issa's voting history match up with his glowing words about supporting veterans and soldiers? Let's find out.
Lucas O'Connor :: Darrell Issa Loves Veterans at Home, Fails Them in Washington
For purposes of convenience, we'll work chronologically through the meat of the interview.

Congressman Issa is asked about the role of humanitarian missions by the military in the greater goal of national security, to which he responds:

Anytime a weapon is fired, it's not just a failure of diplomacy, it's a failure of the military to dissuade people from using war as a solution. So everytime we can show that what we want is to help people including through our military, we go a long way toward convincing the world that we are not just a nation of peace, but we are a nation that has a military to maintain our peace, and I think that these missions prove it.

So first of all, he's saying that the deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq are, by their nature, diplomatic and military failures. Always a nice start and I think most people here would agree to various degrees.  Interesting then that ProgressivePunch would give him a perfect 0 rating on Iraq votes.  So right off the bat we know that Darrell Issa is unequivocal in his support for failure.  Along the same lines, Progressive Punch also has another relevant category here: Aid to Poor People in the Developing World.  Where does Darrell Issa come down there?  Another perfect 0 for the Congressman, rejecting among others aid to women and girls in Afghanistan, voting to cut U.S. financial support for U.N. relief operations, and voting against funding for the UN Family Planning Organization which provides  family planning information and health services to families in 150 countries.  Sounds like he's really committed to helping the underpriviledged around the world.

He goes on to respond to questions about the importance of caring for veterans and ensuring their benefits:

I'd say that we're doing a better job now then we did when I was active duty of recognizing supply and demand isn't enough, that you have to make promises and keep promises to our soldiers not just when you really need them to get into the service or to reenlist, but throughout their careers. In the 60s and 70s we did a very bad job, both with the veterans administration, and quite frankly, with soldiers post Vietnam; we didn't keep our promises on pay, military housing and certainly not on training. I think we're doing better now, but every single year is a new challenge to remind people that whether we're at war or peace, whether the war is popular or not, military training and morale is part of what keeps us safe and out of war more often. If an enemy knows we are prepared for war, the morale is high and the troops are ready, we're less likely to be a target. That ounce of prevention has to be invested in every year and right now I think we're going in the right direction, but everyday I worry we might start going in the wrong one.

My biggest priority right now is dealing with returning wounded warriors, many of whom don't even have purple hearts. They were exposed to an IED, they shrugged it off, but in many many cases, they still have lasting effects. We need to get those personnel medical and personal support and recognition. We need to know whether or not they have a medical problem, whether or not counseling will help, and we need to eliminate the stigma of, "I'm a Marine, I can't have headaches or be hurt, or I can't have these problems." That is a real change in culture for the Marines, and yet the amount of IED injuries that have gone unreported is an epidemic that must be worked on. Our wounded warrior center at Camp Pendleton is sort of our leading edge, but only the tip of the iceberg. The same can be said for our wounded veterans, who have left the service.

So the Congressman is a champion of the fighting man and woman?  Well, let's go back to the voting record.  Progressive Punch gives him a 4.17% rating on aid to Veterans and a 4.55% rating on Well-Being of American Military Personnel.  What are some of the highlights of his voting record on military personnel and veterans?

After mentioning wounded warriors in his response, he also voted against consideration of the Wounded Warriors Resolution and the improved medical care for veterans that it would have provided.  After discussing the value of the military community, he voted against a Melancon amendment which would have increased funding for veteran medical care and cut funding for the base closure commission and voted against allowing introduction of an amendment that would tax millionaires to help pay for better veterans' health care.  Less than ten days before that vote, he voted against an amendment to the 2006 budget that would use a reduction of millionaire tax breaks to fund increases to education, health care, veterans needs, homeland security, environmental and infrastructure budgets.  A pattern is clearly emerging that Issa is ready to abandon the fighting men and women of this country if there are millionaires at risk.  Interesting priorities.

But what else is there?  Issa voted against $150 million in funding for increased health and job-training services for veterans.  The Republican argument was that adding such funding would take too long.  Better to do things half-assed and quickly apparently.  He voted to disallow Bob Filner's attempt to add $3.1 billion in Veterans Health Administration Appropriations to the emergency war funding bill.  Apparently it's an emergency to get troops into the field but not take care of them when they get back.  And just in case there's any question as to this being a recent phenomenon, let's stretch back to 2003.  Back then, he voted in opposition to an attempt by Jim Marshall to allow U.S. veterans to immediately receive full disability and retirement benefits simultaneously.  The argument against that move was that Congress had already done enough, and full benefits weren't that big a deal.

But it's not all about health care and direct veterans' care.  It's also about protecting them in general.  Which is why it's so difficult to understand Congressman Issa's vote in 2004 opposing increased bankrupcy protections for military and veteran families.  The predatory lending and outrageous number of bankrupcies and foreclosures of the past few years don't seem to reflect well on that vote.  Along the same lines, it's tough to reconcile Issa's full-throated support of veterans in public when voting against a $1500 pay raise proposed by Rep. Stupak and funded by reapportioning part of the money being spent on the importation of oil into Iraq.  Iraq needs extra oil more than our military families deserve a pay raise apparently.

Way to support veterans Congressman.

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Systematically Failing the Military (8.00 / 1)
The entire Iraq debacle has been a complete and total abandonment of the men and women of the American military on the part of Republicans.

Republicans refuse basic needs like clean drinking water, medical care and protection from predatory lending, then turns around and calls putting soldiers in harm's way "support." Getting them shot at is not, inherently, support.  It's time to go over the top against the idea that Republicans are good for the military.  They just love profiting off the use of the military.  Big difference.

What? GOP Hypocrisy?? (0.00 / 0)
I suppose it's no surprise, but the contrast is always stark between what they say and what they do. Issa is an excellent example of this hypocrisy, not just on military issues.

Now, Hypocrisy is rampant in politics. I accept that politicians say things to get elected. But the egregiousness of Issa's remarks as compared to his voting record is ridiculous.

I think?

It's not just Issa (0.00 / 0)
I saved a link to this chart from about a year ago that shows a rankings of senators that was done by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War. They looked at votes that affected vets and active duty over a period of time, and assigned numeric values to supportive votes vs non-supportive. Do you notice something interesting about the chart?

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