The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who are already contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120- degree-plus heat.
Unless Congress and President Bush take quick action when Congress returns after Labor Day, the uniformed Americans in Iraq and the 9,000 in Afghanistan will lose a pay increase approved last April of $75 a month in "imminent danger pay" and $150 a month in "family separation allowances."
It's rare for the independent Army Times, which is distributed widely among Army personnel, to blast the Pentagon, the White House and the Congress. But in this instance, the paper has said in recent editorials that Congress was wrong to make the pay raises temporary, and the Pentagon is wrong to call for a rollback.
"The bottom line: If the Bush administration felt in April that conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan warranted increases in danger pay and family separation allowances, it cannot plausibly argue that the higher rates are not still warranted today," the paper said in an editorial in its current edition.
After all, we have to fund those tax cuts for the rich! Combine this news with the fact that Bush has ruled out asking for help from the UN again. Clinton's military won in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Bush rewards them by overwork and underpay.
On the right, only Tacitus is outraged. Given the soft-on-defense canard that still haunts all Democratic candidates, Dean needs to push on this theme hard, and push on this often. Forget the economy! This is much more visceral illustration of how Bush is anti-military.
(for much more on Bush's anti-military record, see these posts from UNMEDIA: Salute to Veterans, AWOL Bush, Victory is not a campaign slogan, Bushed military).
It's time to have a new commander in chief who will rebuild the military, pay our men and women more and make sure they're housed better, and have a focused mission for our military. -- George W. Bush, 2nd Presidential Debate, Oct. 11 2000