GOP Senator Jeff Sessions thinks providing healthcare to veterans is an “entitlement” we cannot afford

In general, when you see a car with American flag and bald eagle stickers all over it, there’s also a “Support our Troops” ribbon sticker to go along with them. For some people, nothing says “patriot” like a “Support our Troops” sticker and nobody loves to wrap themselves in that patriotic swag more than Republicans.

But, for some Republicans, that support for our men and women in uniform ends the day they return home and are in need of healthcare services. That faux support was never more clear than yesterday when Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions said we just can’t afford a bill to help out veterans dealing with the tragedy of unnecessarily long waiting periods to get treated at VA hospitals:

The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan measure aimed at easing healthcare delays for veterans by giving them more access to private care and allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to open more clinics and hire more medical staff.

The 93-3 vote in the Democratic-led Senate followed unanimous passage on Tuesday in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives of a similar bill to address a crisis that has embarrassed the Obama administration and prompted Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to quit. […]

I feel strongly we’ve got to do the right thing for our veterans. But I don’t think we should create a blank check, an unlimited entitlement program, now.

Certainly veterans benefits are an “entitlement” in terms of the technical definition of the phrase:

The kind of government program that provides individuals with personal financial benefits (or sometimes special government-provided goods or services) to which an indefinite (but usually rather large) number of potential beneficiaries have a legal right (enforceable in court, if necessary) whenever they meet eligibility conditions that are specified by the standing law that authorizes the program… The most important examples of entitlement programs at the federal level in the United States would include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, most Veterans’ Administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and agricultural price support programs.

Though that definition is accurate, the term “entitlement” has taken on a different meaning in recent years coming out of the mouths of Republicans. The meaning has shifted to take on a negative connotation; something undeserving people get that the rest of us are forced to foot the bill for. That’s what makes Sessions’ use of the term so offensive.

What Sessions seems to be suggesting is that this is somehow a new program. Guaranteed healthcare benefits for veterans isn’t new or some sort of liberal plan to expand government. It’s something we’ve done since the founding of the United States of America. The Veterans Administration itself is well over 80 years old. The new legislation passed by the Senate yesterday – with Sessions one of only three people to vote against it – is simply intended to solve a problem that has prevented our country from fulfilling its promise to those who serve our country in the military.

But, according to Senator Sessions, we simply can no longer afford it no matter how “strongly” he feels we must “do the right thing for our veterans.”

Apparently “Support the Troops” has a different meaning in Alabama.

[CC image credit: Gage Skidmore | Flickr]

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  • Michiganmitch

    I once heard that republican support of Veterans ran a mile wide and an inch deep. I fear that was an overstatement.

    • Stanton

      A soiled tissue is more dependable support than anything the GOP can be bothered to muster.

  • judyms9

    If the nation wants to have a military at all we cannot afford not to have veterans’ care. How many combat veterans are there in the Senate? Sessions would have been better off saying nothing at all than saying what he did.

    • Stanton

      The problem is is that the GOP views the military as being a big box of cannon fodder and rent-a-thugs. Those who survive past their expiration dates, as Senator Jeff so eloquently explains, are nothing more than annoying vermin who deserve to be ignored.

    • helzapoppn

      How many combat veterans? Not nearly enough. In the years after World War II, more than half the Congress had served. Now, not so much. And it shows, particularly with the Republicans’ ever-growing “Yellow Elephant Brigade.”

  • Nancy Wickman

    And he’s being talked about as a successor to Cantor. Eeew.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      You’re thinking of Pete Sessions.

      • Nancy Wickman

        You’re right. Wrong Sessions.

        • Jay Dub

          Two peas in a pod, though! The mistake is understandable!

  • Bruce Norbeck

    Soldiers are awesome at election time when you need votes. Between elections, not so much. With that in mind, I guess someone forgot to tell Sessions that there’s an election this year, & a good deal of veterans in his home state.

    • anthonyadams

      Sessions and his like may cause the GOP to lose the military/veteran vote. Hell, the Republicans have tossed everyone else in their shitter.

  • hoodlum11

    well, why don’t we give ole’ Jeffery the chance to carry an m-16 or m-4 around the hills of Afghanistan or the deserts of Iraq. Let’s see if his opinion changes. What a great guy, he’s just a little brain dead. I would suggest people read Major General Smedley Butler. He was the Major General of the United States Marine Corp after WWI. Interesting man.

    • Jay Dub

      Or better yet, while he is insisting that Obama is the one that screwed up Iraq, let’s send Session’s kids and grand kids back there first to scope things out!
      He’s not a patriot… far from it!

  • The Chocolate Chips

    Republicans are jaw droppingly terrible.

  • pfair143

    Said the party who charged America 24 billion for an immigrant to read Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor.

    • Frank Scolaro

      Excellent point.

  • Chris Korb

    I am a Vietnam era veteran of the Womens Army Corp. First question did Mr. Sessions serve? if not why? or was he one of those that treated us so despicably when we served? Second question what makes YOUR entitlements given to you when you became senator more important? If this country can afford to pay you your salaries AND your benefits then it sure as Hell can afford to pay for mine!

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      He was in the Army Reserve in the 70s.

      • BillStewart2012

        “In the Army Reserve in the 70s” means “Got out of going to Vietnam.” Which I’m just fine with, because I would have done Conscientious Objector to stay out of that evil stupid war if I hadn’t gotten a good lottery number, but he doesn’t get to give money to the Pentagon if he doesn’t take care of veterans.

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  • J. Crew

    what do you expect? Republicans. I don’t know how any veteran can vote for them.

    • anthonyadams

      The only reason the GOP voted for the veterans bills is that they think that will make them heroes in the vets and military eyes and they’ll get out votes. Bullshit! We veterans remember their vote against our healthcare and their bill to cut VA healthcare and pension benefits by 52% so they can give more tax cuts to the rich. These clowns can’t serve on any battlefield as they would fall victim to friendly fire (in Vietnam, know as fragging).

      • J. Crew

        Yes. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t really realize as you do, and they still vote Republican. All the GOP does is vote against veterans time and time again. A lot of education needs to happen, so that vets do not continue to vote against their own best interests.

  • dougmeeks

    This is a half truth, he was trying to make them pay for it with existing funds and not more deficit spending which in this case was agiansrt the law but it is weasy to do no research and say Congress SUX that way you don’t have to use your brain.

    • judyms9

      Gee, Bush/Cheney managed to put two wars on a charge card, but you’d not do the same for those who actually fought the wars? And Bush/Cheney get pensions on the charge card. What’s wrong with this picture?

      • dougmeeks

        Uh, the point was (as always) the media trying to manipulate a story to their own political leanings. Accuracy in the media should be a concern for anyone but zealots.

  • Steve Anderson

    Hey Senator Chickenhawk, Those veterans offered you a blank check with their lives…

  • anthonyadams

    As a combat vet of Vietnam who killed people and shed my blood so this asshole could live the good life, I’d like to get him alone for what we used to call “wall to wall counseling.” I can always blame me beating the shit out of sonofabitch on my PTSD that I still live with – 43 damned years later.

  • Jim Wetherell

    What is pathetic is that he keeps getting re elected, maybe they should disqualify all Alabama veterans from all benefits, then we will see if they re elect him.

    • randalltx

      I don’t deny Veterans the benefits the EARNED; even if they are stupid Republicans or from a useless southern state.

  • HoldenLitgo

    Aggressively stupid.

  • Michael Vittitow

    They are all liars! If we can afford billions in corporate welfare to companies raking in Billions in profits, then we can afford to provide for Veterans and fix Social Security.

  • labman57

    So providing for the health and welfare of military veterans is an extravagance, an “entitlement” that the nation cannot afford — but subsidizing the fossil fuel and tobacco industries is essential.

    Got it.

  • BillStewart2012

    If the Pentagon isn’t going to take care of the veterans they already have, they don’t get to have any more of them. If nobody’s trying to invade your country, taking care of the veterans from the times you’ve invade other countries takes priority over new weapons and hiring new soldiers.

  • 3monkeys

    Again….these people voted for more money to build additional fighter jets. Gave the DOD/military even more money than they wanted and he has the balls to say caring for vets is an entitlement we can’t afford? He is a disgrace to America. Two vets and one active duty in my family and I couldn’t be more disgusted…..Absolute scum.

  • Sig.

    Mr Sessions. You are a true piece of shit. If you can’t afford to look after the people you put in harms way, you can’t afford – or deserve them to begin with. I would ask fellow brothers in arms to never regret serving their country, but only regret that such as you represent some of it’s people.

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  • patrick

    This republican jerkoff obviously never served in the military. Probably too chickenshit.

  • Jim Mooney

    Yet Republicans are the same scumbags who rant for war, and vote for war, in vasts numbers. If you don’t want to foot the bill, don’t start the $#@! war.

  • DesertSun59

    This is all about privatization. It has nothing to do with the cost of the VA.

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