WASHINGTON – Tea party hero Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) this week proposed a blueprint to eliminate $400 billion from the federal budget, which included billions in cuts to veterans’ health care and disability benefits.
Her plan would freeze health care funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and slash $4.5 billion in disability benefits to military veterans.
Bachmann posted the document on her official Web site, calling the spending cuts “real and necessary” to avoid increasing the debt ceiling above $14.3 trillion. She supports the United States wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Oh hell no! In the middle of 2 wars?” remarked Paul Rieckhoff, a veterans advocate who served during the Iraq war, in a Twitter post echoed by dozens.
The Minnesota Republican’s plan seeks to “[c]ap increases in Department of Veterans Affairs health care spending, and reduce disability compensation to account for SS disability payments. Reduce Veterans’ Disability Compensation to account for Social Security Disability Insurance payments.”
The US federal deficit is poised to hit $1.5 trillion in 2011, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected this week, and while Congress debates ways to cut spending, veterans’ benefits have not yet been targeted.
“It is really astonishing to see this,” Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, told the Army Times, noting that VA expenses have risen in recent years with thousands of US troops in need of medical attention.
Bachmann has garnered something of a cult following among tea partyers across the nation, and recently elevated her profile by offering her own “tea party” response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday.