Friday, May 30, 2014

In Politics Actions Speak Louder Than Words

“Actions speak louder than words.” “I see better than I hear.” “Better to judge a person by the actions that he takes rather than the words he utters.”

No where are these words more appropriate than in the world of politics.

Let’s take a look at the topics that have saturated the media over the past few weeks and compare our elected leaders’ words with their actions. Our focus for this piece will be on the Republicans because they have been by far the most vociferous in their outrage over current events.


FACT - Republicans are outraged over the deaths of four Americans manning the American Consulate in Benghazi. The primary target of their furor has been former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They accuse Clinton and the White House of lying to the public about the events leading up to the murders for political purposes. They condemn Clinton and the White House for failing to provide adequate security for the consulate and they are horrified that the administration would be so crass as to politicize the deaths.

FACT – While under the leadership of Hillary Clinton the State Department repeatedly requested additional funds to beef up the security at US embassies around the world particularly those in hostile environments like Benghazi. House Republicans led by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan cut the administration’s request for embassy security by $`128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. For fiscal 2013 the GOP controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s World Wide Security Protection Program…less than the State Department’s requested $2.15 billion. Securing embassies costs money. When you refuse to provide the necessary funds bad things can happen
Regarding the faux indignation over the administration’s politicizing the murders…Republican Oversight Chairman Darrel Issa has held TWO years of investigatory hearings on the matter. Each does little more than rehash the same information while allowing Republican committee members to vilify the former Secretary and presumptive Democrat nominee for the presidency. Noticeably absent in the hearing is any mention of the GOP House cutting hundreds of millions from funds used to provide embassy security.


FACT - The big story of course is the scandal involving the Veteran’s Administration failure to properly tend to the medical needs of vets on a timely basis. We know that the books were cooked to make it look like most patients were getting in to see a doctor within two weeks time when in fact it is taking 3-6 months to see a physician. As many as 40 veterans have died awaiting treatment. Republicans, long considered the party of choice for the military establishment are outraged over the agency’s failures and blame the administration, the president in particular, for failing to fix the problems as he had promised to do six years ago.
FACT – The VA is the largest provider of health services in the country. It is a bureaucratic nightmare. Veterans receive the highest quality care once they are admitted. But getting in to see a doctor can take months…even longer west of the Mississippi where VA facilities are scarce. It can take Vets hours to drive from their homes to get treatment. Last February Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, proposed a bill that would have expanded health care and education programs for veterans. The bill contained measures designed to fund additional facilities to alleviate the backlog. Republicans blocked the measure via filibuster so as not to have to go on record as voting against an expansion of veteran’s benefits. This was after Senate Majority Leader Reid refused to allow an up or down vote because the GOP had attached an amendment that included additional sanctions against Iran? Numerous sources report that Sanders will reintroduce the bill next week.

As previously mentioned Republicans cried “foul” at what they perceived as the Democrats politicizing the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. Apparently that outrage does not apply to American veterans who died waiting for treatment at VA facilities.

Senator Mark Bagich is a Democrat Senator from the state of Alaska. He is up for re-election in November and is considered vulnerable. Senator Bagich Bagich sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee. Today Carl Rove’s Crossroads GPS will launch a television ad tying Bagich and his committee to the deaths of those veterans. Naturally you will find no mention in the ad of the committees’ request for neither additional funding nor the GOPs’ extraordinary efforts to stop the funding from happening.

These are just two recent examples of where actions speak louder than words. There are others…

FACT - Republicans are seen as the fiscal conservatives, proponents of spending cuts and reduced deficits. However, historically our debt and deficits increase under Republican administrations and decrease when Democrats hold the White house.

FACT – Republicans are considered to be the strong defenders of the military establishment while Democrats prefer diplomacy. It is true that Republicans go out of their way to protect our military, securing appropriations for the most advanced weapon systems available. Even when the military says the systems are unnecessary are redundant, Republicans will push the appropriations through. “Nothing is too good for our fighting men and women” they say. Is that the real motivation? Or could it be that they want to keep those government contracts coming to the munitions developers and manufacturers that reside in their districts? How do they square spending billions of borrowed money on unwanted weaponry while blocking funding for VA benefits under the guise of fiscal responsibility? And what about the increase in the debt that balloons with every weapon system built?

As you go to the polls this year take a moment to look up the voting records of the candidates. More often than not you will find that their words say one thing but their actions say something else.

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