Last week, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) hosted veterans groups, labor unions, and others at a press conference to oppose the chained CPI proposal, which would reduce benefits to Social Security beneficiaries and veterans.
At the event, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which represents 200,000 veterans and supporters, blasted the proposal. The IAVA’s Tom Tarantino said the proposal would “balance the budget on the backs of those who fought for us”:
TARANTINO: And I want to point out that this is the 2nd time in so many months that we’ve been brought to talk about this. And that is totally insane to me that we have to keep coming back and talking about how cutting benefits for veterans is not the answer to our fiscal woes. You hear chained CPI and you hear all these complicated policy terms. And really what you’re saying is we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of those who have fought for us. And these proponents of the chained CPI they apparently okay with that. You know, I’m not okay with that. They say times are tough. You know what, tell me about it. Tell me times are tough. For me and my friends who spent the last ten years fighting war. Tell the Gold Star widows and the surviving spouses how tough times are. Tell the Vietnam and World War II and Korean veterans who depend on their benefits to supplement their income because they’re still suffering from wounds from their service. Tell that disabled veterans, who has invisible wounds, who needs their veterans benefits, so that they can help recover. We lost more veterans last year to suicide than we did to combat. Tell those veterans about how times are tough. I have lost too many friends to sit here and listen to stuff like that. This is unacceptable. And if you support chained CPI, you support breaking your promise this country made to every single one of those veterans. And we cannot stand it. I will come back a 3rd and 4th time and keep reiterating it but I pray to God we don’t have to. I pray to God that some sort of sanity descends on Washington and that we stop trying to solve our problems on the backs of those who have sacrificed the most.