Obama hits McCain for opposing new GI Bill. McCain says GI Bill too generous, wants to help troops less.

Yes, let’s make sure we’re not too generous to our troops risking their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. From Democratic nominee Barack Obama today:

There is no reason we shouldn’t pass the 21st Century GI Bill that is being debated in Congress right now. It was introduced by my friend Senator Jim Webb, a Marine who served as Navy Secretary under President Ronald Reagan.. His plan has widespread support from Republicans and Democrats. It would provide every returning veteran with a real chance to afford a college education, and it would not harm retention.

I have great respect for John McCain’s service to this country and I know he loves it dearly and honors those who serve. But he is one of the few Senators of either party who oppose this bill because he thinks it’s too generous. I couldn’t disagree more. At a time when the skyrocketing cost of tuition is pricing thousands of Americans out of a college education, we should be doing everything we can to give the men and women who have risked their lives for this country the chance to pursue the American Dream.

So I did a little more reading on this. And Obama isn’t kidding. McCain says the bill gives our troops too much. Seriously. McCain is opposing Senator Webb’s proposed GI Bill because it helps our troops too much. So McCain has introduced another bill that gives our troops fewer benefits. Nice.

Funny, then, that the benefits in McCain’s bill fall well short of those provided by the proposal he refused to endorse. That bill, sponsored by Sens. James Webb (D-Va.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), offers Iraq and Afghanistan vets full tuition, room, board and supplies at any state school, despite the cost. It also makes no distinction between active-duty troops and members of the Guard and Reserves — a provision added in recognition of the unprecedented reliance of today’s volunteer military on those service-members.

In fact, one of the central criticisms of the Webb-Hagel bill — from both the White House and many congressional Republicans — is that it’s too generous, and therefore will encourage service-members to abandon the military in favor of college. Offer a lesser benefit package, the theory goes, and the troops are more likely to stay in their boots. (Supporters of the Webb-Hagel bill, including a number of veterans advocacy groups, say the better benefits will encourage recruitment, therefore nullifying any retention problems that might occur on the other end.)

Republicans talk about honoring our troops. Democrats actually honor them.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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