Why is McCain getting $58,000 a year in disability income?

First off, I find it fascinating that John McCain, who is refusing to vote for the GI Bill for our troops because “it’s too generous,” is himself getting $58,000 a year, tax-free, from the US government for his military service. Had McCain been getting that amount every year since Vietnam, that would total $2,000,000 for the man who isn’t into overgenerous government. I just find that interesting.

His staff responded with the classic “he was tortured for his country.” Yeah, we get it. The torture card. It’s to McCain what 9/11 was to Giuliani’s candidacy – the never-ending name-drop. Though what McCain’s staff actually said was downright, um, we’re being nice to Clinton now, so I won’t say Clintonian. Here’s the quote:

McCain campaign strategist Mark Salter said Monday night that McCain was technically disabled. “Tortured for his country — that is how he acquired his disability,” Salter said.

Technically? What does that mean? Usually, it means that under the strict reading of the law, you’re covered, but in fact it’s kind of a nudge-nudge-wink-wink situation – that’s what “technically” means. It’s called parsing, which is something you do to “technically” claim something is true, when on its face it really isn’t. So is McCain “technically” disabled, and taking $58,000 a year tax free from the government, or is he actually disabled? I would imagine there are other solders who are actually disabled who could use the money. And if he is actually disabled, just how disabled is he?

I think our troops should only get the best, and we’ve beaten up the administration a lot for leaving our injured troops and vets in the lurch. But I also remember from those articles how hard it is for our current injured troops to get the health care they need (the military is actually refusing to diagnose PTSD in order to save money on benefits!). I’m just not sure that the McCains, who own “eight or nine houses,” should be getting $58k a year tax-free from the government for a “technical” disability when others who don’t have families worth a gazillion dollars could use that support a lot more. The median household income in the US in 2006 was $48,201. I know vets who have done well for themselves in the workplace and, as a result, refuse to take any federal medical benefits. They feel it would simply be wrong to take what amounts to federal welfare when they’re rich.

I mean, the man built his own lake to go fishing at one of his 8 or 9 houses. Yes, he served his country. But something is wrong when we’re paying millionaires $58,000 a year, especially when those same millionaires complaine that we were being “overly-generous” to our troops currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the very least, it’s terribly hypocritical.

PS Let’s not forget that the Republicans decided that the last election should be about whether a Vietnam war hero, who was awarded the Purple Heart, really was injured enough to get those medals. Imagine what the Republicans would have done had the Democratic candidate been profiting to the tune of $58,000 a year from the feds for a “disability” that didn’t stop him from staying in the military another eight years, where he took over the command of a training squadron, and which didn’t stop him from later getting elected to the US Congress for 26 years. Yes, you can be disabled and do all that, but again, imagine had the Democratic candidate had the vigor of John McCain, while claiming to be disabled to the tune of $58k a year. They’d eviscerate us. And they did, when the candidate was John Kerry.

A Second PS: Imagine had the Democratic candidate served in Vietnam, been captured, and then made propaganda videos for the enemy while claiming all the while to be a hero. That’s a story for another day, but just imagine had our candidate run on his war record, and used his captivity to justify $58,000 a year in benefits, when during such captivity he made propaganda videos for the enemy. I have a feeling our guy would be laughed out of the race.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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