Bachmann reversed herself on veterans benefits

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Friday, September 02, 2011 at 1:46 pm | More from The Minnesota Independent

Image by Matt MahurinDuring U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s speech at the annual convention of the American Legion in Minneapolis Thursday, she vowed to support and strengthen veterans medical care, but a plan unveiled by Bachmann in January, which she later dropped, proposed to cut $4.5 billion from these same veterans services.

“It is our duty, first and primarily, to protect our veterans and to make sure that you receive not only the respect, but also the care that you have paid for very heavily with your service to our nation,” Bachmann told members of the American Legion Thursday. “As president, I will assure that those who serve today as well, and in the past, have the highest access to the best care, both of health, mental health and rehabilitative care that the world has to offer.”

But Bachmann’s January plan, which was touted as a way to avoid raising the debt ceiling, would have brought about dramatic cuts to veterans services.

“Instead of making it easier for Washington to spend more of your tax dollars, I’m calling for Congress to do the hard work of making real and necessary cuts in federal spending,” according to a January statement that included the cuts on Bachmann’s House website.

Her plan would have frozen U.S. Department of Veterans Administration health care costs and cut disability payments, according to a January report in the Army Times. Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, told the Times that Bachmann’s proposal was “astonishing.” The Army Times charted the origin of the veterans cuts to an October 2010 report from the conservative Heritage Foundation.

It was just the next month that Bachmann started to backpedal in a statement on her website:

“One point on my discussion list was a $4.5 billion proposal that would affect payments made to our veterans. That discussion point has received a lot of attention and I have decided to remove it from consideration. The problem of government spending must be solved, but not on the backs of our nation’s war heroes. I have always been a proud supporter of the United States military and I continue to stand with our veterans.  In the months ahead I look forward to working with our Veterans Service Organizations to ensure that we fulfill our commitments to those who sacrificed so much in their brave service for our country.”

Bachmann’s campaign did not immediately return a request for an explanation of Bachmann’s earlier stance on funding veterans services.

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