In this week’s Correspondence Corner, Erik Paulsen offered a slanted defense of his support for the American Health Care Act … without acknowledging that it will significantly cost older constituents more and that it is opposed by the AMA, American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, AARP, and on and on and on. (See below)
Congressman Paulsen exploited the fact that Minnesota insurers increased rates for individual health plans by more than 50 percent last year … failing to acknowledge that ObamaCare subsidies would also be available … and that his AHCA replacement would change, such that tax credits would be based strictly on age — under 30 would receive a $2,000 tax credit, $2,500 for those age 30 to 39, $3,000 for those age 40 to 49, $3,500 for those between 50-59 and $4,000 for the over-60 bracket — which means that many people who were eligible for ACA credits would now find that they will be paying more … for many, a lot more.
Since there was not a lot of good that he could say about the AHCA (unless you consider the tax cuts that he embraced), that left time for him to respond to a plea from Ed — a Plymouth veteran.
Ed asked Congressman Paulsen to once again support the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act … as Congressman Paulsen had sponsored it in the previous legislative session.
Congressman Paulsen was quick to inform Ed that he sponsored the bill in question — H. R. 299 Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017. Actually, there are 110 Republicans and 117 Democrats who have sponsored the bill — notably absent are Minnesota’s Second District Congressman Jason Lewis and Sixth District Congressman Tom Emmer.
Obviously, that is a lot of sponsors … heck, in the previous session, 336 Members sponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015 which was up from 239 Members who sponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013.
Which leads to one question … with a majority of Members sponsoring the bill, why has there not been a vote ?
The answer is something that the #MathGuy did not say … much like not wanting to say about his American Health Care Act … how much this would cost.
H.R. 299 would help Ed and roughly 90,000 other veterans … but there is a cost … an estimated $1.1 Billion … and it could go higher.
Simple … H.R. 299 is for those who served off the Vietnam coast … there are other veterans who were exposed to the dioxin in places like Guam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Panama, Korea and even stateside bases.
Congressman Paulsen to his credit, “thanks” them for their service to our country and the need “to keep the promises that were made to our veterans”.
That’s great … but our veterans have been exposed to toxic chemicals at Fort McClellan, asbestos on Navy ships, radiation poisoning, mustard gas and the toxic open air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sadly, Congressman Paulsen has not signed on as a co-sponsor to the bipartisan bill H.R.1279 – Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act … a companion bill to the one introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar.
So, Congressman Paulsen still has more work to do for Ed and the other vets.
Since being a sponsor isn’t enough, the obvious answer is for Congressman Paulsen to initiate a Discharge Petition.
A discharge petition is a means of forcing legislation to the floor of the House of Representatives without going through a committee. Some might remember that Tim Walz used the Discharge Petition process to force House leadership to move Stock Act legislation ( Walz’s bill never got a vote, but the House did enact then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s bill.)
Congressman Paulsen is getting a lot of heat for his support of the GOP healthcare replacement plan … let’s not allow him to divert attention to other needed legislation without him giving credit to House leadership for their inaction on veterans’ issues.