Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Support Webb's bill, ignore McCain's rhetoric

Nancy Pfotenhauer, one of Sen. McCain’s policy advisers, appeared on Fox “News” (a term I use loosely) yesterday and criticized Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and his “21st Century GI Bill.”

Pfotenhauer said that Webb’s bill does “nothing to address reenlistment and retention” and cited a recent CBO report as support of her fallacious claims, saying “if the Webb bill went through, we’d see a reduction in reenlistment rates of 16 percent.”


If Pfotenhauer had actually, I don’t know READ the CBO report, she would see that Sen. Webb’s bill would actually increase enlistment to the point that it would offset the loss in retention.

From the report;

“Literature on the effects of educational benefits on retention suggest that every $10,000 increase in educational benefits yields a reduction in retention of slightly more than 1 percentage point. CBO estimates that S. 22 (as modified) would more than double the present value of educational benefits for servicemembers at the first reenlistment point — from about $40,000 to over $90,000 — implying a 16 percent decline in the reenlistment rate, from about 42 percent to about 36 percent. […] Educational benefits have been shown to raise the number of military recruits. Based on an analysis of the existing literature, CBO estimates that a 10 percent increase in educational benefits would result in an increase of about 1 percent in high-quality recruits. On that basis, CBO calculates that raising the educational benefits as proposed in S. 22 would result in a 16 percent increase in recruits.”
So the only way it would do what she charges would be if you removed a few words and stopped using your brain… which I’m guessing is what happened here.

After all, Pfotenhauer IS a republican.

Even REPUBLICAN Sen. John Warner (r-AZ) agrees with Webb and the CBO report, saying “putting a big piece of cheese out there will induce more qualified people to join just to get this.”

Questionable imagery aside, Warner is right.

The US Army is in dire need of incentives like Webb’s bill contains in order to attract recruits.

And don’t even bring McCain’s competing bill to the table… Webb’s bill is much more generous than McCain’s (imagine that) as McCain’s bill sets a uniform amount per month that is not indexed to actual college expenses while also not granting any benefits until a six year enlistment.

The CBO report shows that the Army would see a substantial increase in the qualifications of recruits under Webb’s plan because recruits will know they could serve their country, gain an education and still have a long, productive life in the military if that’s what they would want.

And then there’s the possible economic benefit.

It’s generally believed that the return to the nation of those WWII GI Bill’s was $6 or $7 for each $1 spent on the veteran… so one could argue that that is what gave the US the effervescent economy it enjoyed post-war.

We can expect McCain and his cronies (another reason a McCain presidency would mimic Bush’s – the abundance of cronies in his administration) to lie on this issue ad nauseam… especially with the talk of Webb being a possible Obama running-mate.

So what’s the solution? We need to have supporters of Webb’s bill, Democrat and republican, to raise these facts in addition to the retention neutral impact of the bill on retention rates.

Then, and only then, can we combat the lies that McCain and his sock-puppets will spew at every opportunity.

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