Diary

Obama Defends Republican Rob Portman On Budget

It’s not every Republican Senate candidate that can count on Obama to have his back. But that seems to be the case with Rob Portman in Ohio. The Netroots, including kos, HuffPo and others have been pushing the line that with Portman at OMB, the Bush administration cut the VA budget and increased wait times for services.

It seems that Republican Senate candidate Rob Portman decided to stop by the Dayton Veteran Affairs Medical Center Sunday to assure veterans how much he cares about them, even though his former boss, George W. Bush, cut funding for veterans’ services and increased their wait times for those services. And the veterans let him know how they feel about that!

The problem is, Obama has to host Whitehouse.gov. There we learn that wait times had skyrocketed … under Clinton and the Bush administration made it a priority to bring them down. As for the budget, from FY07 to FY08 the requested budget increased 10.36% or 3.7 B (35.7 B to 39.4 B) and from FY08 to FY09 the requested budget increased 13.71% or 5.4 B (39.4 B to 44.8 B) while Portman was at OMB.

That’s an on par and above annual increase over what Obama is proposing going forward – about 10%. In total, the budget increased 83% during Bush’s 8 years. And those wait times that rose so significantly under a Democrat started climbing back down under a Republican. Thanks for the facts, Obama. I’m sure the Netroots will be thrilled that you cleared this up.

President Bush identified increased coordination of VA and DOD programs and systems as one of the 14 key management priorities for his Administration, and these efforts have resulted in more efficient delivery of services and benefits to active and separated servicemembers and their families.

When President Bush took office, the number of disability benefit claims waiting to be processed had soared to over 600,000, resulting in many veterans waiting an average of over 230 days for VA to process their claims. Several statutory requirements have expanded eligibility and increased claim volume over the last six years, further impeding timeliness. The Administration and VA are committed to reducing processing time by continually improving methods and technology. In 2006, the average length of time to process a veteran’s disability claim dropped to 177 days. To continue improvement in processing veterans’ disability claims, the Budget provides resources to further reduce the processing time to 145 days.

The other portion of the story about Portman  being asked to leave a VA event has already been debunked