There has been entirely too much talk about what the Ryan or Obama budgets will mean for veterans and military families, and which better supports those who voluntarily chose to put on our Nation’s uniform, without real, in depth and unbiased side by side comparison.
Everyone has an opinion, but very few have taken the time to actually read the budgets themselves. At least, that is the view I’m choosing to take, otherwise I would be scared to death by the lack of reading comprehension of my fellow Americans.
I am not endorsing either budget plan because there is much in both I dislike. In a perfect world, a little thing called compromise would be the perfect solution, but we all know that is not likely to happen, particularly in an election year. So, the next best thing we as voters can do is to take an honest, objective look at the numbers, decide which things are most important to us, and vote accordingly.
The problem is sorting the facts from the rhetoric, the truth from the accusations. When all things are equal, choosing which budget you support based on the basic fiscal philosophy is not a bad way to make a decision. But knowing the details may surprise even traditional party-line supporters.
With this idea as a goal, I actually did the research and read both budgets. Read, as in went through each paragraph as they are written.
What I wanted to do was create a spreadsheet, with columns and lines for what each party is proposing to spend on each department of government. Barring that, I at least wanted to get the actual numbers, for a simple side by side comparison of the proposed expenditures for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, but even that was easier said than done. Now I understand why it is that each party can so easily misrepresent the other.
With a lot more research, I’m sure I could eventually uncover the actual raw numbers for each side, but this shouldn’t be something that requires research and digging. This should be simple and straight forward. There should be a link on each party’s budget, something like “Go Here for the line by line total expenditures for each department.”
Instead, there are paragraphs explaining how this party’s budget proposal will save money, fund programs and delineate justifications for the expenditures. There are charts and graphs contrasting this party’s budget against the other party’s, without giving real, actual numbers, only increases or decreases in the same over the next one to 20 years.
Granted, there is more information there, but without the numbers, it is all nearly meaningless and open to interpretation. We all know that numbers can be cooked to produce any conclusions, and when the actual numbers are not right there on top for easy comparison, each side can say the numbers mean and prove or disprove just about anything, not only regarding their own proposal, but also the other party’s.
While all this can be frustrating at best and disingenuous, there is a silver cloud in all this. I have long said that what matters most is the basic philosophy of each party and of its candidates. I’ve never thought it was smart to vote for or against someone on the basis of a single issue. Both the character and track record, along with the basic philosophy of that candidate’s philosophy are better indicators of what a politician will do once in office.
What this means to me for the upcoming November elections and our military and veterans is we need to take a good, hard look at how each party and candidate think of our servicemen and women and their families.
Historically, philosophically, Republicans support our Defense Department, often at the expense of social programs. Democrats support social programs over defense spending. The answer to which party and budget, which candidate to vote for then should be simple.
But, the Republican penchant for gutting social services intimates they are more likely to buy tanks than they are to fund service programs that more and more of our military families and veterans have come to rely upon in this dismal economic market. Democrats, while in theory would fund those programs, would benefit our veterans as an addition to all those groups currently in line for a handout. I find this disgusting, as our servicemen and women should be paid, respected and supported above all others.
It comes down to the simple equation of who understands that anyone willing to put on our nation’s uniform deserves all the thanks, support and recognition for their and their family’s sacrifices. I’m glad that part is simple and straightforward, because deciphering each party’s budget is anything but.
If you want to read each party’s proposed budget for 2013, along with their philosophy and justifications, go here: