by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
The vice president arrives in Norfolk today to deliver a speech, but the area’s military families would much rather he deliver on the administration’s promises. For months, if not years, veterans and military personnel have been waiting on the president and vice president to honor the commitments made to their families. It’s unacceptable, and it must end.
Over the last four years, President Obama has made many promises to America’s veterans, but he has kept precious few of them. So many of our nation’s heroes have already borne a heavy burden overseas, and now they are faced with challenges at home, thanks to the president’s policies and misplaced priorities.
The Obama economy has made finding a job difficult for many veterans. Since Obama and Biden took office, the unemployment rate for all veterans has increased—from 7.4 percent to 8.3 percent. For veterans of the post-9/11 era, the situation is worse. Unemployment has increased from 8.9 percent to 12.1 percent.
President Obama issued an executive order late last year in an attempt to help unemployed veterans. Sadly, like many of his executive orders, it is not likely to deliver the results promised. The headline from a Politico article on the initiative captured the sad truth: “New Effort Won’t Create Jobs.”
That’s the problem. President Obama’s policies have resulted in dangerously slow job creation. His threats of higher taxes and his reckless spending have injected uncertainty into the weak economy. And his steady stream of regulations, chief among them those in ObamaCare, have slowed the rate of economic growth by making it significantly harder for job creators, especially small businesses, to hire new workers.
Were it not for these policies, those returning home from overseas, or returning to civilian life, would likely find it much easier to find a job.
But the job market is not the only difficulty facing military families. If President Obama has his way, their healthcare will become more expensive. The president’s budget for 2013 would require military families to pay more for their healthcare by cutting $1.8 billion from the TRICARE insurance program in 2013 and $12.9 billion by 2017.
The families of active duty military will be forced to pay significantly higher prices for prescription drugs, and retirees will see their premiums spike. Some retirees could see their health care costs quadruple over the next five years. Needless to say, veterans groups are rightfully outraged.
In August of 2009, President Obama, standing alongside soldiers at George Mason University, promised that the post-9/11 G.I. Bill would help “those who have borne the heaviest burden lead us in to the 21st century.” Under President Obama, that promise has gone unfulfilled.
Too many young veterans report difficulty securing the tuition assistance and housing stipends promised in the bill. For tens of thousands, the post-9/11 G.I. bill is not working, forcing them to rely on savings or to take on debt.
Our heroes and their families deserve leaders who keep their promises. As a nation, we owe them a great deal, and our leaders owe it to them to keep their word.
At a speech in Houston in February 2008, then-candidate Obama said that “maintaining the finest military in the world” requires “caring for our troops when they come home, not forgetting about our troops.” He’s right, and he would do well to remember that.
President Obama has not fully met the “solemn obligation” that he correctly says we have to our veterans. But Americans deserve a president that will. Veterans and military families, including those in Norfolk, deserve leaders who will address their needs—not ones who ignore them when they come to town.