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January 11, 2004

The VA Budget

Bush is being accused of slashing the budget for Veterans Affairs. Win Without War claims that Bush is going to cut $25 billion from the VA's budget over the next 10 years. Well, that's only $2.5 billion a year, and many of the WW-II and Korean veterans will have passed on. So that might make some demographic sense. However, let's have a look at these budget numbers and see what the truth really is about Bush's shocking budget cuts for veterans.

Let's go straight to the horse's mouth, so to speak, the Office of Budget, Dept of Veterans Affairs.

This summary PDF file contains the following

General 2004 Budget Highlights Summary • The 2004 President’s budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides approximately $63.6 billion for veterans’ benefits and services: $30.2 billion in discretionary funding and $33.4 billion for entitlements.

Wow. That's alot of money. Then it goes on to say

The request for discretionary programs
provides $3.2 billion (with collections) or 11.9 percent, over last year’s funding
level.

Hmm... Voices against War says the VA is being cut by $25 billion, and the VA says they're getting $3.2 billion more than they were before.

The same summary for the 2003 budget said

2003 Budget Highlights Summary The 2003 President’s budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides approximately $56.6 billion for veterans’ benefits and services: $26.4 billion for discretionary programs (without medical care collections) and $30.1 billion for entitlements
.

Hmm.... So we were spending $56.6 billion, and if we took $25 billion away from that, we get $63.6 billion, not $31.6 billion that we were taught to expect using conventional second grade mathematics. Normally a simpleton like me would say that $63.6 billion is $7 billion more than $56.6 billion, but obviously I'm mistaken or all those enlightened liberals wouldn't be calling it a drastic cut.

The 2003 budget document also says

By including the additional funding for new initiatives, the total discretionary increase is $2.6 billion, or 11 percent. With an expected increase in medical care collections of approximately $400 million, this brings the total discretionary increase to $3.1 billion, or 12.2 percent.

So the 2003 proposed Veterans Affairs' budget was much larger, by 11 to 12 percent, than the 2002 spending levels.

So what was the VA budget like under Clinton? Well this VA news release on their 1999 budget says

Expanded access to quality health care, increases in funding for research and education benefits, and the opening of four national cemeteries in the next two years are included in the President's proposed 1999 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

VA's 1999 budget will provide authority of approximately $42.8 billion and outlays of $43.2 billion for the department. It includes funding for benefits and services for the country's more than 25 million veterans and approximately 44 million family members.

Hmm... The 2004 figure of $63.6 billion is 1.47 times more than the $43.2 billion figure of 1999. A difference of $20.4 billion dollars. Almost exactly the opposite of what the howling moonbats are saying.
The 1999 document also says

VA's budget includes a $17 billion appropriation request for medical care, the same as 1998.

The 2004 Budget document said

VA is requesting $25.4 billion for the direct Medical Care Business Line appropriation, an increase of $1.5 billion, 6.4 percent, in direct appropriation over the 2003 estimate to provide medical care
for 4.8 million unique patients.

That's $8.4 billion more being budgeted on VA health care in 2004 than in 1999. Almost a 50% increase.

Try as I might, I can't find these VA Budget cuts that everyone keeps harping on. Maybe it's like the "Plastic Turkey" they keep bitching about.

January 11, 2004 in Politics | Permalink

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Comments

Please send this information to the Fox News channel. Alan Combs, this morning on fox, claimed President Bush had cut the VA budget bt 1.5 billion. Thank you.

Posted by: Ed Madigan at Feb 2, 2004 9:02:11 AM

You never know, they might have redefined addition and subtraction while we weren't looking...

Posted by: steve h at Apr 13, 2004 1:42:00 PM

im a 100% disabled vet, mince words all you like gentlemen, the fact of the matter is THIS COUNTRIES VETS ARE UNDERMEDICATED AND MANY TR4EATMENTS ARE NOT ALLOWED DUE TO BUDGET!! i wish you guys would stand a post for just one night in a combat zone, hmmmm why dont you go over to Iraq hhey???cause those men and women returning are going to have to fight the VA just as the rest of us vets have had to do and its because of the bean counters.

Posted by: jake g at Jul 9, 2004 12:43:16 AM

You obviously have never required long term care at a VA hospital. I haven't, but I watched my grandfather - a WWII Navy veteran - wither away under the underfunded care of a VA hospital.

Have you read anything on the Project for the New American Century website?

http://www.newamericancentury.org/

You should. Everyone should.

Posted by: josef at Aug 4, 2004 7:32:38 PM

I'm a peactime Navy Vet (for what it's worth). I haven't received VA care and I suppose I'm not eligible. But I did some work in a VA hospital back in the mid-80's and I didn't like what I saw compared to civilian hospitals (or even regular military hospitals).

It's quite likely that both sides are correct in this case. The budget has in fact been increased and the care is still sub-standard. That would not be a surprise in a government bureaucracy. It serves as a fine example of what we could expect if Hillary ever gets her way and all medical care is "socialized" (i.e. taken over by unelected bureaucrats).

As far as I'm concerned, we need to do two things. First get some limits on malpractice awards and other factors driving ballooning costs. (I would like to see one doctor who could treat thousands of patients and never make a mistake and always achieve results that satisfied every patient. I won't hold my breath because that Doctor would be the second incarnation of Jesus Christ.)
Second, Veterans healthcare should be privatized. They should have the ability to go to any Board Certified Physician for necessary care (not vain cosmetic procedures such as liposuction or sex changes) and have it paid in accordance with their financial need. (If a Vet has since struck it rich, e.g. Sen. Kerry, then there is no sane reason Joe Bluecollar should be paying his medical bills.)

That might cost more than the current VA system, but the men and women who have shed their blood and limbs in defense of our lives and freedom deserve the best medical care possible and the freedom to choose their own doctors and hospitals. We simply can't afford not to take care of our combat Vets.

Peace,
Bryan

Posted by: Bryan at Aug 21, 2004 10:09:59 PM

I agree Brian. It doesn't make that much sense to have sort of a two-tiered or "segregated" health care system for vets, at least unless some war is so large that their numbers would swamp a normal system.

Posted by: George Turner at Aug 22, 2004 4:29:57 AM

Hey Brian you are eligable for veterans healthcare,
I'M A 100% disabled Gulf War vet and I ALSO WORKED AT THE V.A. MADICAL CENTER.
Because of the various types and undiagnosed ailments that me and thousands from just the Gulf War have we were sent to many hospitals outside the V.A. system.And in alot of cases the care was quicker but not better because these private care DRS. KNOW NOTHING ABOUT WOUNDS OR INJURIES SUSTAINED IN COMBAT.
And these were not fly by night hospitals I'm talking about Johns Hopkins Bethesda and so on.
My v,a. meddical center has all the newest technology but not the staff or Drs to keeP THE PLACE GOING.
Now most v,a,'s are affiliating with teaching hospitals to fill the void because in that appropriations bilol for healthcare is the money to hire drs pharmacists and so on.
How can a V.A. pharmacy compete with a cvs who pays a starting salary of 80 -100 thousand dollars compared to the govt. which pays about 35ooo.
The reason it looks like and he did cut the V.A, BUDFET (AND WE ARE NOT COMPARING TO PAST YEARS) WAS BECAUSE WHAT WAS PASSED BY BOTH HOUSES AND COMMITEE AND SENT UP TO HIM WAS SLASHED,GRANTED IT WAS MORE THA THE YEAR BEFORE BUT IT STILL FELL BELOW WHAT WAS NEEDED AND DID NOT EVEN MEET THE COLA THAT MOST OTHER AGENCIES GOT.
pART OF HIS INCREASE WAS FROM COLLECTING THE BACKLOG OF COPAYMENT DUE BY NONSERVICE CONNECTED VETERANS WHO USE THE V.A. HEALTHCARE SYSTEM .
And you know were most if not all of those veterans who owe copayments and I don't just mean for medicine they get charged for office visits x-rays u name it,get there income from SOCIAL SECURITY.
So now we finally get a bipartisan agreement on mandatory funding for the V.A. HEALTHCARE/NOT building or anything elseONLY HEALTHCARE TO MAKE SURE THE V.A. IS FUNDED FOR YEARS TO COME AND IT GETS SHOT DOWN BU OUR GREAT COMMANDER IN CHIEF WHO ALSO PROBABLY NEVER HAD TO SET FOOT IN A v.a. hospital or clinic and wait hrs. to be seen because they don't have the peaple.
Tim Langion

Posted by: Timothy Langion at Jul 6, 2005 10:42:18 AM

Hey Brian you are eligable for veterans healthcare,
I'M A 100% disabled Gulf War vet and I ALSO WORKED AT THE V.A. MADICAL CENTER.
Because of the various types and undiagnosed ailments that me and thousands from just the Gulf War have we were sent to many hospitals outside the V.A. system.And in alot of cases the care was quicker but not better because these private care DRS. KNOW NOTHING ABOUT WOUNDS OR INJURIES SUSTAINED IN COMBAT.
And these were not fly by night hospitals I'm talking about Johns Hopkins Bethesda and so on.
My v,a. meddical center has all the newest technology but not the staff or Drs to keeP THE PLACE GOING.
Now most v,a,'s are affiliating with teaching hospitals to fill the void because in that appropriations bilol for healthcare is the money to hire drs pharmacists and so on.
How can a V.A. pharmacy compete with a cvs who pays a starting salary of 80 -100 thousand dollars compared to the govt. which pays about 35ooo.
The reason it looks like and he did cut the V.A, BUDFET (AND WE ARE NOT COMPARING TO PAST YEARS) WAS BECAUSE WHAT WAS PASSED BY BOTH HOUSES AND COMMITEE AND SENT UP TO HIM WAS SLASHED,GRANTED IT WAS MORE THA THE YEAR BEFORE BUT IT STILL FELL BELOW WHAT WAS NEEDED AND DID NOT EVEN MEET THE COLA THAT MOST OTHER AGENCIES GOT.
pART OF HIS INCREASE WAS FROM COLLECTING THE BACKLOG OF COPAYMENT DUE BY NONSERVICE CONNECTED VETERANS WHO USE THE V.A. HEALTHCARE SYSTEM .
And you know were most if not all of those veterans who owe copayments and I don't just mean for medicine they get charged for office visits x-rays u name it,get there income from SOCIAL SECURITY.
So now we finally get a bipartisan agreement on mandatory funding for the V.A. HEALTHCARE/NOT building or anything elseONLY HEALTHCARE TO MAKE SURE THE V.A. IS FUNDED FOR YEARS TO COME AND IT GETS SHOT DOWN BU OUR GREAT COMMANDER IN CHIEF WHO ALSO PROBABLY NEVER HAD TO SET FOOT IN A v.a. hospital or clinic and wait hrs. to be seen because they don't have the peaple.
Tim Langion

Posted by: Timothy Langion at Jul 6, 2005 10:42:18 AM

Hey Brian you are eligable for veterans healthcare,
I'M A 100% disabled Gulf War vet and I ALSO WORKED AT THE V.A. MADICAL CENTER.
Because of the various types and undiagnosed ailments that me and thousands from just the Gulf War have we were sent to many hospitals outside the V.A. system.And in alot of cases the care was quicker but not better because these private care DRS. KNOW NOTHING ABOUT WOUNDS OR INJURIES SUSTAINED IN COMBAT.
And these were not fly by night hospitals I'm talking about Johns Hopkins Bethesda and so on.
My v,a. meddical center has all the newest technology but not the staff or Drs to keeP THE PLACE GOING.
Now most v,a,'s are affiliating with teaching hospitals to fill the void because in that appropriations bilol for healthcare is the money to hire drs pharmacists and so on.
How can a V.A. pharmacy compete with a cvs who pays a starting salary of 80 -100 thousand dollars compared to the govt. which pays about 35ooo.
The reason it looks like and he did cut the V.A, BUDFET (AND WE ARE NOT COMPARING TO PAST YEARS) WAS BECAUSE WHAT WAS PASSED BY BOTH HOUSES AND COMMITEE AND SENT UP TO HIM WAS SLASHED,GRANTED IT WAS MORE THA THE YEAR BEFORE BUT IT STILL FELL BELOW WHAT WAS NEEDED AND DID NOT EVEN MEET THE COLA THAT MOST OTHER AGENCIES GOT.
pART OF HIS INCREASE WAS FROM COLLECTING THE BACKLOG OF COPAYMENT DUE BY NONSERVICE CONNECTED VETERANS WHO USE THE V.A. HEALTHCARE SYSTEM .
And you know were most if not all of those veterans who owe copayments and I don't just mean for medicine they get charged for office visits x-rays u name it,get there income from SOCIAL SECURITY.
So now we finally get a bipartisan agreement on mandatory funding for the V.A. HEALTHCARE/NOT building or anything elseONLY HEALTHCARE TO MAKE SURE THE V.A. IS FUNDED FOR YEARS TO COME AND IT GETS SHOT DOWN BU OUR GREAT COMMANDER IN CHIEF WHO ALSO PROBABLY NEVER HAD TO SET FOOT IN A v.a. hospital or clinic and wait hrs. to be seen because they don't have the peaple.
Tim Langion

Posted by: Timothy Langion at Jul 6, 2005 10:43:08 AM

why knock Clinton? Did he need the huge increase snce he did not in vade Iraq and cause all sorts of additional problems for our people

Posted by: fred lapides at Nov 12, 2007 4:09:48 PM

Ever hear of inflation? Those numbers you are spewing are not in constant dollars. There is something called the CPI which is used to gage inflation. If you index budgets to inflation you get to the truth. But a bush apologist would not be interested in that would he?

Posted by: aaron at Feb 10, 2008 5:31:14 PM