MAYBE ALAN SIMPSON SHOULD ENJOY A LITTLE QUIET TIME FOR A WHILE…. It was encouraging to see the Obama administration make it easier for veterans affected by Agent Orange to receive disability payments. This is a worthwhile move, and it reinforces the fact that this administration is committed to doing right by those who wear the uniform.
It was far less encouraging when Alan Simpson decided it was a good time to start mouthing off again.
The system that automatically awards disability benefits to some veterans because of concerns about Agent Orange seems contrary to efforts to control federal spending, the Republican co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission said Tuesday.
Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson’s comments came a day after The Associated Press reported that diabetes has become the most frequently compensated ailment among Vietnam veterans, even though decades of research has failed to find more than a possible link between the defoliant Agent Orange and diabetes.
“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,” said Simpson, an Army veteran who was once chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Oh, I’m sorry, are our veterans’ illnesses inconvenient for you, Alan Simpson?
Simpson’s opinions matter, of course, because he’s currently the co-chair of the White House’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which is considering a variety of areas of the budget that may need “trimming.” It’s also the second time in as many weeks as the former Republican senator has caused a stir with his big mouth — last week, in a letter he later apologized for, Simpson compared Social Security to a “milk cow with 310 million tits.”
While I appreciate this was arguably a crude take on a common metaphor, the remarks raised legitimate questions, not only about Simpson’s temperament and judgment, but also about his commitment to the Social Security system.
And now he’s at it again.
As for the substance of Simpson’s concerns, Zaid Jilani notes, “Given that the VA estimates that providing care for veterans exposed to Agent Orange would cost only $67 billion over the next decade, it is difficult to imagine why Simpson would see the program as prime for cost-cutting.”