Monday, March 25, 2013

Attempt to Extort Military Tuition Assistance Fails

Obama's approach to the Sequester fits perfectly with Thomas Sowell's portrayal of just one of the standard ploys of the Left (who Sowell castigates as "the Anointed"): define whatever problem that Obama wants to address, in this case the Left's manipulation of the economy to forward his end of "fundamentally transforming America", as a "crisis", though it is a crisis of his making.  Solutions must be proffered and acted upon immediately.  ("Sign the bill now!  Read it later, if at all.")  Their solution is the only way.  (If you are opposed to Obamacare, then you want to destroy the entire health care structure of America; never mind that there are answers other than the Democrat plan.)  When their plan fails, then the response is to bewail how much worse it would have been if the other side had prevailed.  (Y2K leaps immediately to mind, among others.)  Define every political distinction in this way.  ("Never let a serious crisis go to waste.")

The Democrats' budget approach is to spend as if there is no tomorrow – literally.  The Senate Democrats were so busy spending that they couldn't bother to propose a budget for more than four years, and the one on the table now is a joke.  The only responses they have is to insist that taxes be raised on the "wealthy", dividing the people into classes and penalizing success, while repeatedly declaring that taxes on the rest of us "won't go up one dime".  (Has that been your experience or forecast, dear reader?)  The only spending cuts that they will talk about is to the Defense budget, despite the fact that the Sequester is to take half of its cuts from that department, but the other half from domestic spending in the bloated area of entitlements has been ignored.  Consider also that Defense constitutes only some 18% of the budget, whereas Medicare takes 30% and Social Security 25%, in this heavily skewed formula.

Now add to this the time-honored tradition of the Washington Monument Ploy, wherein the entrenched bureaucrats hold hostage the commonweal through shutting down the most necessary and visible functions of government in order to extort the response that they want – more money, leaving their pet projects intact without explanation, all while shamelessly insisting that the fault lies with the opposition.

Clinton was able to pull this off with the able assistance of the press in the government shutdown in 1995, blaming the Republicans in Congress.  But the Obama White House has been far less successful so far in this iteration, being called at every turn.  Their cynical release of thousands of illegal aliens has been a festering problem which gets worse each time they try to explain it away.  Their pettiness shows through with antics such as closing down the White House to tours for schoolchildren or cancelling the Easter egg roll.  It all looks so much worse compared to business-as-usual hemorrhaging of money such as Joe Biden's recent trip to London and Paris, with accommodations for his entourage costing north of $1.1 million for two nights (not including the travel and security expense).

Another attempt, this a two-fer, involves shutting down  the Tuition Assistance Programs within the Army, Air Force, and Marines, while the Navy was seriously considering doing the same.  This shows a careless disregard and contemptible attitude to those who have borne the brunt of our fight against the Islamic Supremacists these past twelve years, but also a blatant disregard to our own capabilities.  The quality of our fighting forces is far more attuned to advanced capabilities and technology that ever before, and their requirements are equally high.  The TAP is not primarily for servicemembers who depart the military – that would be the GI Bill, either the Montgomery or the Post 9/11 version.  Instead, the TAP keeps members current on any variety of skills while they are on active duty, and helps to sharpen the point of the spear of our war fighters.

This need for current and continuing education was critical to me back in the seemingly ancient days when I served, but this is brought home to me practically every day through two of my sons, one who is in the Army Ordnance Corps in the technical side of vehicles and their impact on logistics (he always has something surprising and elucidating in this field in which I have so little experience), and the other is a Special Operations Combat Medic (I confess wondrous ignorance here as well), trained to operate independently, well beyond the impressive battlefield medical system.  Both jobs and a myriad of others demand a sharp skill set, kept keen through a supportive education system.

Cutting back in this area is profoundly insensible.  Our greatest weapon and thus our greatest protection is through the quality of those who serve.  Restricting educational opportunities hurts us where it counts the most.  Not only would our quality degrade, but we would lose those who we need the most, the ones who see their duty clear and actually strive in the arena, as Theodore Roosevelt would say, not the presumptuous Best and Brightest of the chattering class who cannot deign to dirty their hands.  It makes about as much sense as saying that we will effect cost savings by stopping the production of ammunition, except that in this case it seriously affects the lives of our servicemembers for whom the Defense Department is ethically responsible.

"And yet, there they were."  Perhaps Gary Trudeau's greatest Doonesbury strip, in a rare moment of lucidity, as the dust was settling in the Kuwait War of 1991 (click to enlarge)

Yet now we know that this attempt as well has come under the derision of the public, and Congress has seen fit to re-instate the TAP.  The Defense Department has been told to keep the program intact and to seek savings elsewhere.  The Washington Times sums it up in its conclusion of its article:
It also represents a priority that the services should place on educating its personnel.  In an era of congressional stalemate, the latest move to include the program in the continuing resolution shows bipartisan agreement that active duty personnel are worth the investment.
(Thanks to Weapons Man for the Biden boondoggle information.)

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