In a letter to President Obama, Vote Vets chairman John Soltz demands that Alan Simpson lose his job as co-chair of the White House’s fiscal commission. Key quote:
“[O]n Tuesday, Senator Simpson actually put veteran’s benefits on the chopping block…blaming disabled veterans for the country’s fiscal situation. And for us, that is the final straw,” Soltz wrote. “We ask that you remove him from his current position so that the commission can continue its work in a way that will give the military community—and all Americans—confidence in the conclusions it reaches.”
This week, citing a program that covers veterans exposed to Agent Orange for diabetes testing and treatment, Simpson said, “The irony (is) that the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess.” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters this week that Simpson will stay on the commission.
You can read the entire letter below the fold.
September 2, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Dear Mr. President,
I write to you as the chairman of VoteVets, a pro-military organization comprised of over 50,000 veterans and military families and another 50,000 civilian supporters, about the head of your Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, former Senator Alan Simpson.
We have long been concerned about Senator Simpson’s troubling pattern of denigrating those who rely on Social Security. As you are aware, of the more than 23 million veterans, almost half—approximately 10 million—collect Social Security benefits. And that number has quadrupled since the 1960s.
So you can see why Senator Simpson’s comments referring to people on Social Security as “greedy geezers” and “lesser people” were so troubling. And his recent email to the Older Women’s League where he accused the executive director of “babbling into the vapors” in her work to protect the vital program while referring to it as “a milk cow with 310 million tits” has only deepened our concern.
We were also troubled when reports surfaced in August that Senator Simpson was interested in using the commission as a means to freeze military pay and raise the amounts that service members pay for their healthcare.
But then on Tuesday, Senator Simpson actually put veteran’s benefits on the chopping block, too, blaming disabled veterans for the country’s fiscal situation. And for us, that is the final straw.
President Obama, this week you called for all Americans to honor and thank our troops. I know you agree that honoring our troops can’t just be lip service. And the best way to honor those who serve our country is to make sure that we take care of them once they return home. That means strengthening the vital programs we rely on, including Social Security and veterans’ health care, not undermining them as Senator Simpson seems intent on doing.
It has become all too clear that Senator Simpson cannot be trusted to objectively review the budget and make impartial recommendations about our nation’s economic priorities. We ask that you remove him from his current position so that the commission can continue its work in a way that will give the military community—and all Americans—confidence in the conclusions it reaches.
Iraq War Veteran
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.