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Bachmann eyes cuts to veterans health benefits

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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.

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“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.

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George Conway calls out fears Trump will compromise new US intelligence initiative aimed at Russia

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On Saturday, George Conway drew attention to a specific passage of a new article from The New York Times about the intelligence community's efforts to counterattack the Russian power grid, in response to years of covert Kremlin attacks on our own:

“[O]fficials described...hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern...that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation...to the Russian foreign minister.” https://t.co/BXTjjXBmia

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Trump goes on ‘TOTAL LOSERS’ tirade with manic tweet attacking ‘totally out of control’ media

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Trump’s hamfisted attempt to wag the dog with Iran unraveled fast

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

We can’t say with any certainty that Iran wasn’t behind the attacks on two ships in the Gulf of Oman this week, but it is clear that the Trump regime’s account of what happened unraveled very quickly. Shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a video of a small vessel removing something Pompeo said was a mine from the damaged port side of one of the ships, the vessel's owner said that it had actually been struck on its starboard side, above the waterline, by a flying object. If this were in fact an effort to pull a Gulf of Tonkin, then the fact that this was the best dog-wagging they could conjure up would be downright pathetic.    

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