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Veterans Jobs Bill Shafted: Why Politics, Not the GOP, is to Blame Here

The Veterans’ Jobs Bill was blocked in the Senate by Republicans. While the bill was supposed to help unemployed veterans, it was a poor attempt to address the issue. The bill’s design and the timing of the vote indicate election year politics by the Democrats.

The New York Times reported that Senate Republicans blocked the Veterans’ Jobs Bill on a procedural point. Republicans stated that the bill was not paid for and voted against moving it forward. The bill would have provided $1 billion over five years to veterans seeking employment in their communities. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) opposed the bill since it duplicated existing job programs for veterans. Senator Patricia Murray (D-Wash.) was “shocked” that Republicans would stand in the way of putting veterans back to work. Murray also stated that the cost of the bill would be covered by “fees on Medicare providers and suppliers who are delinquent on their tax bills.”

The Washington Post also reported on the bill. In this article, however, it was mentioned that the Veterans’ Jobs Bill intent was getting “veterans back to work tending to the country’s federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments.”

The bill was “loosely modeled” after the Depression-era Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) which hired the unemployed to work on government lands for forestry and other projects. The article quoted Senator Murray as saying “Instead of meeting us halfway, we have been met with resistance. Instead of saying yes to the nearly 1 million unemployed veterans, it seems some on the other side have spent the last week and a half seeking any way to say no.”

Unfortunately, the Veterans’ Jobs Bill was based on politics and not on a real solution to helping veterans get jobs. The Democrats’ use of “veteran” in the bill indicates a focus on trying to help unemployed veterans. According to Senator Coburn, there are a total of six job programs already available to veterans. One such program, the VOW To Hire Heroes Act, was signed by President Obama in November of 2011. The Act provides businesses tax credits as an incentive to hire veterans and seeks to improve the transition from the military to the civilian workforce. Also, the Federal government already provides funding for local police and fire departments to hire personnel.

The Democrats’ bill focused on increasing the size of government and adding to the debt. Did they think that would be supported by the smaller government and fiscally conservative Republicans? Of course not. The Democrats knew that bill would not have passed the House but decided to push ahead with it in the Senate. This was done as an opportunity to label Republicans as disinterested in helping unemployed veterans.

An election season is a prime opportunity to divide and conquer any and all groups for voters. The Democrats’ ploy shows they are interested in politics and not with veteran unemployment. Instead of introducing additional bills, and debt, they should review the existing veteran employment programs for effectiveness. That would show that they do care about veterans and the country. 

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