Martin Bashir | March 23, 2012
man: years. there is one place where veterans , remarkably, are absent. congressman paul ryan 's new budget. in the nearly 100-page document, the word veteran does not appear even once. but without saying that word or writing that word, this budget, if enacted, would cut $11 billion from veteran spending when compared to president obama 's budget. someone who has taken this issue on is john salts, who is the chairman of vets.org. john, thank you for being with us.
>> karen, it's great to see you behind the table.
>> thank you.
>> any time.
>> i thought the piece you wrote for the post was really spot on in terms of just looking at some of the impact these cuts would have on veterans that i think a lot of people don't realize. can you tell us about that?
>> sure. obviously you mentioned the $11 billion. republicans have had a long history, even under george bush , where they underfunded the va and they had to crawl back to congress and ask for another billion dollars. they've always had a long history. when we were trying to pass the gi bill , six republicans even voted against the gi bill which everyone uses. when you start attacking social security or medicare , it cuts across the board. a lot of veterans are in rural communities . they can't use tri-care primary. that's always a secondary care for them after their va, so a lot of them rely on medicare as a second form of insurance. when you start slashing medicare you're hurting 70% veterans . many come back in their own communities. they're not in the mitt romney tax bracket . they actually pay more taxes than he does. mitt romney sat 13% and most veterans are higher than that. when you cut it across the board, you're hurting veterans .
>> we hear all this rhetoric about defense spending and not making those cuts, yet we're shortsightedly kind of cutting those folks on the other end. it seems to me that what we ought to be doing, in the same way that president obama , you know, said, all right, we've dwgot to have the costs of war on budget, that we ought to include in those costs the human costs. the american century foundation, it's like a trillion dollars for the kinds of health care and medical services that our vets need. what do you think about having all of that so we have that full picture?
>> yeah, we just don't know what these cost. i think that's totally appropriate. it's like any other business in the world, you look at your projected cost and down the road income and revenue streams. what the bush administration did was iraq and afghanistan. iraq was on a chinese credit card and you look at our national debt now of 15 trillion, and that was 1 trillion. when you add up the veteran benefits, and we have 30 to 40,000 wounded veterans in this war, one of three soldiers who died in vietnam were marines, we only have one of eight, so we have a lot of people that will come back and fall into the veterans administration system. we are a sole product of the federal government who was created by the federal government and we just do not predict what our long-term costs are going to be, so putting it in the budget projected is a huge, huge benefit that would help veterans down the road.
>> john salts, thank you so much for being with me and sharing your insights.
>> thank you.