Friday, January 20, 2012

How Rick Santorum ripped off American veterans

From Mother Jones:
Like any good presidential candidate, Rick Santorum heaps praise on America's soldiers and veterans. He's pledged to "make veterans a high priority" if elected president, adding, "This is not a Republican issue, this is not a Democratic issue, it is an American issue." But as a US senator, Santorum engineered a controversial land deal that robbed the military's top veterans' home of tens of millions of dollars and worsened the deteriorating conditions at the facility. ...

Under one scenario, by leasing the parcel of land and letting it be developed, the Home could pocket $105 million in income over 35 years for its trust fund, David Lacy, then-chairman of the Home's board of directors, told Congress in 1999. Lacy stressed that the Home wanted to keep the property, and not offload it to a buyer. "Once land is sold," he said, "it is lost forever as an asset."

Enter Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.). At the behest of the Roman Catholic Church, and unbeknownst to the Home, Santorum slipped an amendment into the 1999 National Defense Authorization Act handcuffing how the home could cash in on those 49 acres. The amendment forced the Home to sell—and not lease—the land to its next-door neighbor, the Catholic University of America. Ultimately, the Catholic Church bought 46 acres of the tract for $22 million. The Home lost the land for good, and by its own estimates, pocketed $27 million less than the land's value and $83 million less than what it could've made under the lease plan.

Of course, Santorum is a Catholic himself. In fact, he wants to write Catholic dogma into U.S. law. Taking land from U.S. veterans and giving it to the Catholic church is what God would want him to do, right? So why would a little thing like the U.S. Constitution stop him?

And  how is this retirement home doing now?
Financial records, court documents, and government reports from the 2000s show how the Home cut back on the services it provided veterans as it grappled with funding problems. The slashing of services got so bad that in 2003 veterans living at the Home filed a class-action suit against the Home and its director, Timothy Cox, alleging shoddy health care and less access to that care. As a result of cutbacks and declining quality in care, the suit claimed, the suicide rate at the Home spiked from 59 in 2000 to 131 in 2003.

In 2007, an investigation by the Government Accountability Office came to similarly troubling conclusions. The watchdog's head, David Walker, reported that one Home resident had been admitted to the hospital with maggots in a wound. Other vets were admitted with bad pressure sores, suggesting they'd been left unattended for dangerously long stretches of time by the Home's health care employees. ...

Yet today, despite some improvement in the Home's financial health, its campus is pocked with boarded-up, decrepit buildings. All but one of the Home's gatehouses is shuttered, as are some of the Home's more elegant buildings, including the historic Grant building (named after the Civil War general) and the red-brick hospital that now sits empty, bearing a sign warning off trespassers.

Welcome to Rick Santorum's America. This is how the whole country will end up, if he and the other Republicans get their way.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ripping off veterans is one thing and serious but this dimwit Santorum has voted for Increasing the National debts 5 times. Exactly what this Muslim in the WH wants to do which has fortunately been stopped by by the GOP house majority.In the Senate Santorum voted with the unions to kill the 'the right to work' act approved by many states.

WCG said...

Muslim in the WH? Heh, heh. I assume that's a parody of the loons who actually believe that?

Well, I'm not sure if they really believe it, or if it's just that the very thought of a black man in the White House has made them hysterical.

However, I do think you're confused about the debt limit. That doesn't affect spending in the slightest. It just says that America will pay what we owe, that we're not a bunch of deadbeats.

Historically, increasing the debt limit has been the occasion for political theater, but there was never any doubt that it would be raised. After all, no one was crazy enough to make the full faith and credit of the United States a matter of partisan political bickering.

Not until last summer, at least. With those Tea Party loons in the House, crazy has become mainstream. And although the debt ceiling was raised, the political maneuvering was enough to lower America's credit rating for the first time in our history.

The point is that rational politicians vote against raising the debt limit only when they know it's going to pass anyway. Even then, it's grandstanding - not very admirable, but relatively harmless. Rational politicians know that it's the spending and tax bills which actually decide how much we're going to owe, not the debt limit.

In fact, there's some question as to whether the debt limit is even constitutional. But we're better off not testing that, since it would raise our borrowing costs. We'd just be shooting ourselves in the foot.

At any rate, there are a lot of reasons to vote against Rick Santorum, but voting to raise the debt ceiling isn't one of them.