It’s a good thing we set aside the last Monday in May to honor our nation’s fallen heroes and their families — the government is doing a lousy job of it. Our soldiers’ final resting places are in jeopardy and survivors’ benefits are being sacrificed, all in the name of sequestration. The president, meanwhile, continues living the high life as if to say, “Sequester? What Sequester?”
Arlington National Cemetery is unquestionably both the most famous and exclusive final resting place for our nation’s heroes. It dates back to the Civil War and is comprised of the land surrounding the Virginia home of Robert E. Lee, according to Daily Finance.
However, Arlington is bursting at the seams. It currently contains the remains of an estimated 400,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Congress realized that the cemetery was approaching capacity in the late 1990s, and so established the Millennium Project to expand Arlington’s boundaries.
$103 million was budgeted for this purpose — a shade over one-tenth of a billion in an age when Congress bandies around figures in the trillions without raising a sweat. But that budget has been cut by 8 percent due to sequestration cuts, and additional cuts may be in the offing.
In addition to land acquisition, Arlington’s operating budget has been impacted.
“Arlington is absorbing this cut by using the last of the funds that were recovered from previous fiscal years,” noted Jennifer Lynch, the cemetery’s public affairs officer. What happens when those previous surpluses are used up is unclear.
Sequestration is also impacting how we care for those our fallen military leave behind. Daily Finance noted:
The VA’s Survivors’ Pension Benefits program, which provides needs-based financial help for the spouses and children of fallen soldiers, is scheduled to lose $84.5 million, a 5.3 percent cut. Another program, the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, gives a small monthly payment to the spouses and children of fallen soldiers. It’s also facing a 5.3 percent cut, which will cost those survivors $307.5 million.
The very idea of the sequester cuts, which are the source of all this grief, came from the president himself. Moreover, rather than bringing everyone together to work our a compromise, he totally disengaged himself from the negotiation process. Lastly, President Obama had the opportunity to make intelligent cuts by eliminating wasteful or redundant programs and leaving others intact, but he preferred across-the-board cuts — except when it came to his own creature comforts.
Meanwhile, President Obama and his family have averaged one vacation per month in 2013, ranging from a family stay at a luxury retreat in Hawaii to a “fantasy golf weekend” in Florida with Tiger Woods. Taxpayer costs for Obama vacations during his first term in office are estimated at $20 million, according to Breitbart News.
The president celebrated this Memorial Day weekend with his 124th round of golf.
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