Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

June 14, 2014

Fact Check: Moldy baloney about vets' benefits

A Democratic PAC is serving up some 11-year-old baloney in an attempt to keep ex-House member Doug Ose from returning to Congress. It accuses the California Republican of voting “to slash veterans’ benefits by $15 billion,” when what he actually voted for — way back in 2003 — was an increase.

The ad also claims he voted to increase his own pay, which he didn’t. In fact, Ose sponsored legislation to repeal automatic pay raises for himself and other members of Congress.

The House Majority PAC, a super PAC devoted to returning the House to Democratic control, started running this TV ad May 31. It attacks Ose in harsh language, accusing him of voting “to increase his own pay” while “dishonor(ing) the sacrifices of our nation’s heroes.” The PAC calls its ad “Dishonor.” But “disinformation” might be a more accurate label.

‘Slashed’ benefits?

What Washington officials call a budget “cut” often turns out to be a smaller increase than originally had been sought. And this ad dishes up a classic example of this sort of deceptive political rhetoric from 2003.

The ad says, “Congressman Doug Ose voted to slash veterans’ benefits by $15 billion.” But what the ad refers to — cited in the fine print on screen — is a vote Ose cast March 21, 2003, for a nonbinding budget resolution that actually proposed a 5.4 percent increase in new spending authority for veterans’ benefits and services for fiscal year 2004, which was to start several months later on Oct. 1.

On page 33 of the measure, H.Con.Res. 95, starting on line 16, the target for “new budget authority” for FY 2004 is pegged at $60.7 billion, up from just under $57.6 billion for the then-current fiscal year. The increase is also discussed in the Budget Committee’s official report that accompanied the bill itself, starting on page 72.

Nevertheless, Democrats claimed the bill contained a $15 billion cut. Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine, for example, said: “One of the most unconscionable cuts is a $15 billion reduction for veteran programs. On the very day we go to war (U.S. forces had just entered Iraq) how can we vote to neglect our veterans like this?” (See Congressional Record for March 20, 2003, page H2184.)

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