*Bachmann plan slammed by veterans’ groups

BACHMANN PLAN SLAMMED BY VETERANS’ GROUPS…. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) broke unexpected ground this week, presenting a budget plan that included freezing Veterans Affairs health care spending and cutting veterans’ disability benefits considerably.

To put it mildly, the Bachmann proposal has not gone over well among groups representing the needs and interests of veterans.

The first group to respond was Veterans for Common Sense. In a message to its membership this week, the group called the proposal “outrageous” because 10,000 new veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are flowing into the veterans health system each month.

“You can’t cut when demand is rising,” said Paul Sullivan, the group’s executive director.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the oldest and largest of the groups, followed soon after, releasing a statement from its national commander, Richard L. Eubank, saying: “No way, no how, will we let this proposal get any traction in Congress.”

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, posted an Army Times article about the brouhaha on his Facebook page under the words, “Oh hell no!”

Before the day was over, groups like the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and AMVETS also chimed in.

For her part, the right-wing congresswoman told a local reporter yesterday that her proposal to undermine veterans’ benefits was intended to generate discussion. I suppose Bachmann succeeded on this front.

Various congressional Democrats weighed in on this yesterday, but to my mind, this could very well serve as the basis for a frenzy. Dems aren’t generally known for their successful p.r. campaigns, but when they get a clear opportunity — when the leading Republican on the House energy committee apologizes to BP for its oil spill, for example — Dems can capitalize.

Bachmann’s proposal to cut benefits for veterans is at least as good an opening for Democrats. Not only should Republicans and far-right leaders be pressed on whether they agree with her plan, but it’s a chance to make a larger statement about the budget fight in general.

The talking point could read, “When Republicans start taking away veterans’ benefits, they’re going too far, cutting too much, too quickly.”