Rescinding the Cuts to Veterans’ Pensions Was In the Cards From the Start


December’s budget deal between Paul Ryan and Patty Murray included a bit of relief from the 2011 sequestration cuts, with the relief split evenly between domestic and military budgets. That even split was one of the guiding principles of the deal. But part of the military relief was paid for by $7 billion in cuts to veterans’ pensions, something that immediately prompted a storm of protest and, eventually, a move to rescind the cuts. Jared Bernstein comments:

True, that’s not huge bucks in the scheme of things. But the violation of this budget principle should not be taken lightly. A key point of the budget machinations that brought us to where we are today is that automatic spending cuts should be split between evenly between defense and non-defense (forget for a moment, that it’s not the discretionary side of the budget that’s responsible for our longer term fiscal challenges anyway). If Congress starts stealing from domestic programs to boost defense, it will unfairly and unwisely exacerbate already unsustainable pressures on domestic spending.

I’d take a slightly different lesson from this: Democrats got snookered. Only a little bit, and they knew they were being played, but they still got snookered. It was obvious from the start that cuts to veterans’ benefits would be unpopular and unlikely to stand, but Democrats agreed to them anyway in order to get the budget deal across the finish line. Maybe that was the right thing to do, but it was no accident. They did it with their eyes wide open.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.