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Grassroots Commentary

Letter to Congressional 'Leadership'

Re: The Budget Compromise

Larry Reams · Dec. 19, 2013

The term “leadership” above is in quotations simply to reflect that you consider yourselves to be leaders. Most of America does not. Members of the armed forces, past and present, certainly do not. That probably accounts for your current approval rating of 6%.

While it is good news that a budget has been reached after many years of violating your constitutional duty to approve one, and after repeated continuing resolutions, a devastating sequestration and a government shutdown, the manner in which you went about it, and some of the results, are appalling. Back room deals, no cuts to spending, changing the term “taxes” to “fees” so you can claim you didn’t raise taxes, penalizing retired and disabled veterans, and generally kicking the can on down the road for someone else to handle after you’re dead and gone, is not my idea of success or leadership. While all this “compromising” was taking place, who was in the room to speak for our veteran’s interest? Did they have a representative or lobbyist present?

A well known quote seems appropriate here from a real leader:

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” (General George Washington)

Less than 1% of our nation’s citizenry volunteers their service to their country in the armed forces. That fact in itself is unconscionable. They are rear indeed in today’s America. But those who do, sign a blank check, up to and including their lives, to defend the nation no matter the circumstances and risk. We’ve all seen the results of this commitment with missing limbs, PTSD, suicides and more.

For 200 years our nation has made an iron-clad promise to these heroes in partial payment for their sacrifice and commitment until you folks violated that trust. You took an Oath of Office, essentially the same oath the military takes, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic. Protecting our nation is your primary constitutional obligation. Damn few of you so called “leaders” have served a day in real defense of our nation, in fact NONE of you who are receiving this letter as addressees have served, yet you call your time in Congress as “service to America.” And when you cut spending, who do you penalize? Those who risk life and limb, day in and day out! Not the cushy federal workers or Members of Congress who's greatest risk is missing lunch occasionally. There are hundreds of ways to cut that $6 billion, including closing the loophole that allows illegal aliens to receive billions in illegal payments with the Additional Child Tax Credit, an estimated $7.4 billion this year alone. You prefer to reward illegal aliens than to pay promised funds to our veterans? That 1%, far more honorable than you, takes it on the chin again. And you are the “best and brightest” leading our nation?

You are paid $174,000 a year, by us. You work about 2/3 the amount of time we normal citizens work for maybe 30% of that salary, yet you have the gall to penalize military retirees so you can get a compromise deal without making any sacrifices yourselves? Perhaps all 535 of you should be forced into uniform and sent to Afghanistan as replacements for real men. Should that occur, our readiness would fall significantly.

A commonly recognized trait of “leaders” is that they don’t ask someone to do what they are not willing to do themselves or have not already done themselves. So where is the reduction in your retirement benefits? Where is your risk to life and limb?

(Mr. Reams is a Christian, a senior citizen, a family man, a retired small business owner and a veteran.)

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