Alan Simpson Wants Vets To Help Out Already

Alan Simpson is a name you might not be familiar with. He’s a former Republican senator from Wyoming (which already says a lot), a former member of the Iraq Study Group and current co-chair of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. That he’s a Republican who wants to dismantle social security isn’t that big of a surprise, though it was a little shocking to hear him describe the program as a “milk cow with 310 million teats” in an e-mail exchange with Ashley Carson. Ms. Simpson’s post on Huffington Post concerned a campaign to oust Simpson from the presidential commission because of his stance on the popular social program.

That all makes sense. I don’t know if dabbling in “reforming” one of our most successful government programs is a politically cunning move on Obama’s part or an astoundingly stupid one. Frankly, I don’t care. Regardless of what the commission decide to report in the way of SS, Alan Simpson should be ousted for another reason entirely. Namely, his opinion of Vietnam Vets.

Simpson on Tuesday said that “the system that automatically awards disability benefits to some veterans because of concerns about Agent Orange seems contrary to efforts to control federal spending.” He went on to state:

“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.” –via ThinkProgress

The article notes Mr. Simpson’s own military service, which took place in Germany from 1955-56. It seems a little odd that a veteran would be castigating other veterans, especially disabled ones, but there it is. What’s really striking to me is the nature of his service versus the vets he’s criticizing: they were involved in a shooting war, using a toxic defoliant that gave them multiple health problems; he was sitting in a base in Germany watching the Russkies across the wall.

That might sound callous, but so are Simpson’s remarks. I applaud his service, but his generation of veterans were honored for their service while the next generation, the ones mired in the muck in Vietnam, were shit on for almost 30 years by the government. Call it personal bias if you like (my father is a Vietnam-era DAV) but I know first-hand how long overdue their compensation is. The program Simpson is criticizing is an automatic payment to Vietnam Vets for service during a period of time that coincides with the use of Agent Orange. His complaint is that some are taking advantage of the payment, even though their present day illness may have only tenuous ties the use of Agent Orange, some with the hope that they can get access to free health care.

Well, for the nearly 3 million vets who served their country and were subsequently denied their due, I think that makes sense. No one is suggesting that we withhold benefits from Iraq War vets because that war was a mistake. Because that is insane. For Simpson to take such a pig-headed view of honoring our veterans is equally insane. After I read about his callousness for those on Social Security, I chalked it up to normal Republican boilerplate. After this latest offensive remark, I realize that is unconscionable for him to be making any decisions regarding the country’s finances.

Please visit and join the campaign to get him off the commission, pronto.

(cross-posted at


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