When the US House voted to approve the GI Bill of Rights last week, giving veterans full tuition benefits at any public school in their home state, 32 Republicans joined 224 Democrats in approving the measure… but Dave Reichert was not among them, despite having publicly boasted about supporting similar legislation.
Why did Reichert vote no? Because unlike most of the Republican agenda these past eight years, this bill actually includes provisions to pay for itself now ($52 billion over ten years) instead of shoving the costs off to future generations, levying a tax surcharge of 0.47 percent on income in excess of $1 million a year per family. When it came to asking the wealthiest one percent of Americans to help pay to give Iraq War veterans the same educational benefits given veterans of World War II, Reichert sided with the wealthiest one percent of Americans.
Let’s put this in perspective. While over half of American families save less than $600 a year from the Bush tax cuts, the wealthiest one percent have saved an average of $92,000 annually. That’s about $550,000 each since the tax cuts were enacted. The new GI Bill of Rights would add back an average of only $9,000 a year to the tax bill of these wealthiest of Americans. And that’s just an average—a household making a cushy $1.5 million a year would pay only $2,350.
In return, every veteran—the Americans who have sacrificed the most for our country—would be given the opportunity to earn a college degree and the economic benefits that come with it. And Dave Reichert voted no.
Reichert supported the bill when it included no funding mechanism, calling into question his fiscal responsibility; he rejected the bill when it taxed those who have benefited most from the Bush regime, calling into question his priorities. If this is what the Seattle Times had in mind when it lauded Reichert for his “conscience-driven independent streak,” I wonder how they define “conscience” and “independence”…?