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Misleading America’s National Guard and Reserves

Rhetoric vs. Reality

President Bush spoke today to National Guardsmen and Reservists in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. At the event, he made a series of election-year promises which run directly counter to the major proposals that have previously been pushed by his administration.

President Bush spoke today to National Guardsmen and Reservists in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. At the event, he made a series of election-year promises which run directly counter to the major proposals that have previously been pushed by his administration.

BUSH CLAIM TODAY: “We’ll help our children of military families meet the challenges of a life on the move…We’re going to put out grant money to help so [military children] get a great education.”

FACT: Under the headline “An Act of Betrayal,” the Army Times reported that the Bush administration notified local military bases the Pentagon considering “closing or transfer control of the 58 schools it operates on 14 military installations.” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has made no secret of his desire to cut education: As soon as he arrived at the Pentagon three years ago, commanders report Rumsfeld began asking: “Why am I in education?” And military families are outraged: “Betrayal – write that down and put it in your report,” said Col. John Kidd, garrison commander of Fort Stewart, Ga., testifying at Tafoya’s forum on the need to keep military-run schools on his post. A top Quantico base commander said he never has seen his community more united than it is over the schools issue. “The very fact that this transfer study is being conducted at this time when Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen and their families are increasingly required to give more of themselves and to go in harm’s way is taken by many as a personal affront,” he said. “It raises serious questions about DoD’s commitment to all quality-of-life issues.” [Source: Army Times, 2/3/03]

FACT: “Bush’s 2004 budget recommends cuts of $172 million, or 14 percent, in payments called ‘impact aid'” – the program that funds schools on or near military bases. “The program is set to fall by more than 30 percent, to $435 million from $635 million – much of that affecting children of troops that have served in Iraq. For example, uniformed personnel at Fort Hood, home to the 1st Cavalry and 4th Infantry, send almost 17,000 students to Killeen and Copperas Cove public schools. [A new] analysis found that Bush’s proposed cuts in impact aid would reduce Killeen’s school budget by $22 million, or 13 percent, while Copperas Cove would lose $9.6 million, or 22 percent. The report found a similar effect for the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Ky. The White House [is] not disputing that it is cutting the impact aid.” [Source: Washington Post, 7/17/03]

BUSH CLAIM TODAY: “The housing conditions are better for those who wear our uniform.”

FACT: President Bush proposed reducing the budget for military family housing by $1.5 billion. When lawmakers tried to restore this cut by reducing the tax cut for millionaires by $5,000, the White House and its allies in Congress blocked the proposal. [Source: Army Times, 7/2/03]

BUSH CLAIM TODAY: “[I want] to help our men and women activated for duty in the National Guard and Reserves. These brave Americans put their jobs on hold and leave their family behind when we called.”

FACT: “The Bush administration is formally opposing a proposal to give National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon’s health insurance system…A recent General Accountability Office report estimated that one of every five Guard members has no health insurance.” [Source: Gannett News, 10/23/03]

BUSH CLAIM TODAY: “We’ll continue to stand side by side with those who wear the uniform and the family members of those who wear the uniform.”

FACT: After President Bush cut funding from what the military said it needed for training, the Guard and Reserves are “facing a potential shortfall of more than $280 million in its budget next fiscal year that, if left unchecked, would halt all training drills for soldiers next spring.” At a congressional hearing this year, four soldiers testified on the dangerous “lack of training reservists receive in urban environments” before being sent to fight in cities in Iraq. [Sources: Inside Defense,  7/12/04; Congressional Hearing, 5/11/04]

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