Washington State Veterans’ Voting Bloc
Veterans’ News Bulletin
Prepared by Dr. Charles W. Heckman
Congratulations to Congressman Adam Smith
We congratulate Adam Smith and his wife on the birth of their child.
One more signature coming for the discharge petition
In response to my letter, Sean Eagan of Congressman Adam Smith’s office informed me that we can expect another signature on the discharge petition for H.R. 303 as soon as Congressman Smith returns to Washington D.C. Because of the birth of his child, he has been away from Congress and did not have the chance to sign the petition. However, he may return early to vote on another bill and will sign the petition at that time.
Signatures from our friends in Congress
The discharge petition for H.R. 303 has already been signed by three Congressional friends of veterans from Washington. We thank Congressmen Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, and Jim McDermott for their signatures on the discharge petition. In November 2004, we should remember the support they gave us when we vote. We also thank Senator Maria Cantwell for her support for the parallel bill that passed in the Senate and the letter she sent informing us of its successful passage.
Can we expect an answer from Congressman Brian Baird?
This letter was sent to Congressman Brian Baird. I have still received no response. Any and all veterans and friends of veterans in the Third Congressional District of Washington should ask Congressman Baird why he has not signed the discharge petition. His local phone number is 360-352-9768.
UPDATE: Congressman Brian Baird has just signed the petition. His is the 184th signature. We need only 34 more
to bring the amendment to a vote on the floor of the House.
315 93rd Ave., S.W.
Olympia, WA 98512-9101
June 14, 2003
Tel. & FAX 360-352-8564
Honorable Brian Baird
United States House of Representatives
Dear Congressman Baird:
Attached is the list of the congressmen who have already signed
the H.R. 303 discharge petition. Unfortunately, I could not find
your name on it. Three Washington Congressmen have already signed:
Rick Larsen, Jay Inslee, and Jim McDermott. Please let me know why
you have not signed this petition.
As you already know, my two years of combat service in Vietnam has
cost me the opportunity to earn my living in America for 35 years.
I have managed to raise my family by working for foreign and
international employers. In America, I have been subjected to
slander, defamation, and blacklisting because of my honorable
military service. It is hard for me to understand how Congress could
pass resolutions to send us to war and then penalize us for fighting.
H.R. 303 will not help me personally because I did not retire from
the armed forces and do not collect any disability payments. However,
it is designed to overcome a gross injustice to disabled veterans and
should be passed. A similar bill has been passed by the Senate, and
it would be passed on the floor of the House if it came to a vote.
Enough votes are also available to override Bush’s threatened veto.
Dishonorable manipulations in committee are keeping this bill from
coming to a vote. I hope that you will add your name to the
bipartisan list of congressmen who value service in defense of the
country and believe that veterans should be treated fairly.
Charles W. Heckman, Dr. Sci.
Remember Doc Hastings’s vote in November 2004
In committee, Congressman Doc Hastings voted along with other members of his party against funding full concurrent receipt of disability and retirement payments for veterans. His vote contributed to the narrow margin by which the financing of concurrent receipt was defeated in committee, which temporarily kept the full House from voting on and passing the measure. The discharge petition, if successful, will force the measure out of committee and place it before the full House, where it is almost assured of success.
Apparently, Doc Hastings is convinced that he can win the election without the support of veterans. His loyalty to his party is obviously greater than his loyalty to his constituents. Perhaps, he is convinced that veterans will vote for him anyway. Some people seem to believe that if you kick a veteran in the face, he will kiss your foot!
Now is the time to ask you representative to speak out for veterans
Any veterans living in the districts that elected Jennifer Dunn and George Nethercutt Jr. to Congress should phone their congressman’s office and let him or her know that you want your representative to sign the discharge petition for H.R. 303. Nothing but full concurrent receipt is equitable and nothing less is acceptable.
Don’t let them tell you there isn’t enough money to go around
Some congressman have been spreading the word that there is not enough money to accomplish all of the worthy goals of our government. Obligations to veterans therefore cannot be fulfilled because other goals are more important, they say. The “poverty ploy” is not just being used by Republicans. I heard a democratic congressman use this argument, too.
In reality, government priorities and not shortages of money seem to be at fault. As early as 1980, the General Accounting Office determined that tens of billions of dollars were being lost by Federal agencies through fraud, and the Department of Justice estimated that about 10% of the entire Federal budget was being lost in this way. The situation is worse now, and the corruption is so bad that the entire Federal budget is at risk. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle showed that the Department of Defense has lost about a trillion dollars. In Atlanta, one employee of the Department of Veterans’ affairs was recently convicted of stealing $11 million. Almost a million was embezzled from a Government credit union in Michigan by another DOVA employee. At the same time, the agencies have been conducting a purge of whistleblowers, assisted by the Merit System Protection Board. Anywhere we look in our Federal and State governments, we see only theft, fraud, and waste. We all know that when civil servants are permitted and even encouraged to steal, their greed will know no limits. Taxes can never be raised enough to cover the losses. Lets look at some of the gross waste:
1. Each year, the Washington State Employment Security Department receives nearly $4 million from the Department of Labor to provide special employment services to veterans. The chances of a veteran being placed in a job are nevertheless not significantly better than the chances of anybody else. No complaint investigations are undertaken by the State, although this is a requirement for obtaining the money.
2. The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) of the U. S. Department of Labor has an annual budget of $179,000,000. It does virtually nothing. Since it has no results to show for all of the money it has received, it is an agency that Congress should abolish.
3. The Department of Labor is not satisfies with having only one agency for featherbedding employees, it has also established the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to perform many of the same duties that VETS is failing to perform. This agency duplicates some of the work of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and some of the work of VETS. It is redundant and is the veterans’ worst enemy since it always sides with employers who discriminate against veterans. Congress could save hundreds of millions of dollars by completely abolishing this agency.
4. While pleading poverty when asked to enforce the law, the Washington Attorney General, Christine Gregoire, has managed to find more than $185,000 to defend against lawsuits by veterans whose preference rights have been violated. Instead, the Attorney General should be levying fines on state employees who have committed a first class infraction by violating the “letter and spirit of veterans’ preference,” as Washington law requires.
5. The United States Forest Service was shown to be wasting almost $300,000 on junk science projects at Olympia, to have attempted to embezzle $20,000 to pay a bribe in Alaska, and to have spent a large amount of money defending the delinquent employees in an ongoing appeal. Nothing has been undertaken to even investigate this fraud and waste, and the United States Department of Justice is protecting the Forest Service from such an investigation.
6. In August 1999, a Federal district judge ruled that the Forest Service had failed to perform the basic research necessary to comply with the law and previous court rulings. This decision resulted in massive losses to the taxpayers due to default on timber sales contracts, not to mention the large sums given out for substandard research. The Forest Service has still not developed its capability to perform the necessary research because the Station Director insists in employing only unqualified friends, which he selects by systematically violating the veterans’ preference laws.
7. The Washington State Department of Ecology is receiving more than $25,000,000 in Federal funds but fails to use the money as it is required to do. Instead, the funds are used to employ friends in the “good-old-boy network” who lack the fundamental education and training to perform the scientific and technical work required. This system of hiring friends has also excluded veterans from employment by this agency, which employs less than 59% of the minimum number of Vietnam Era veterans the Washington Department of Personnel has determined it should employ.
8. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has been receiving Federal grants in excess of $80,000,000 for conducting scientific and technical projects and is using the money to keep poorly qualified and unqualified friends in lucrative jobs while excluding qualified veteran from employment.
9. Federal taxes are funding a court system that routinely violates the rights of civil litigants to trial by jury, guaranteed by Amendment VII of the United States Constitution. Veterans have never received a fair chance to defend themselves in the American court system. Judges have frequently shown bias against veterans, as demonstrated by the recent refusal of the Supreme Court to hear the appeal of retired veterans, whose promised medical care was denied. Because our founding fathers knew that judges are prejudiced against the ordinary citizens who bear the burden of national defense, they denied judges the right to decide lawsuits. Decisions must be rendered by a jury of peers, but who can prevent judges from denying veterans this right to trial by jury?
We can all add stories of waste, fraud, and theft from our personal experiences with government agencies, stories in newspapers, testimony posted on the Congressional websites, and reports by the General Accounting Office. The next time our government officials plead poverty, lets ask them why they do nothing to stop the theft and fraud in our government agencies or eliminate some of the pork barrel projects. The next time Senator Byrd defends the pork barrel waste by claiming that it makes jobs, lets write him and ask why none of these jobs are being given to veterans.
The Boeing laws - some food for thought
The Washington legislature recently passed laws giving Boeing a massive tax break if it agrees to do the work under one of its contracts in the State of Washington. It also agreed to substantially reduce Boeing’s obligations to finance unemployment benefits. The news media have been reporting this uncritically without discussing the implications of these new laws. This leads to the suspicion that the owners of the newspapers and the radio and TV stations also own Boeing stock.
Washington is rapidly going broke and is trying to substantially increase taxes to pay its deficits. The governor and legislature are nevertheless ready to give Boeing $1.2 billion in reduced taxes in order to keep about 1,200 jobs in the state. That means that the other taxpayers are being obligated to pay $100,000 for each Boeing employee who will work until the expiration of the contract. Will Boeing really pay each of these employee’s $100,000 each year in pay and benefits? I don’t think so. Boeing will pay as little as it can get away with, and with Washington having the second highest rate of unemployment in the country, it will be sure to push the salaries down to the lower limit.
We can assume that the average salary of the 1,200 employees will be well under $50,000. That means that the Washington taxpayers will be paying the entire salary of all 1,200 employees and giving Boeing another $50,000 each just for employing them. What it saves on salaries and benefits will be paid out to its stockholders in all parts of the world. Much of the $1.2 billion Washington gives will wind up in the Swiss bank accounts of oil sheiks, in the portfolios of big European banks, and as additional personal property of dictators in small countries all over the globe. And this is what our legislators consider a “good deal” for the state.
Suppose the Washington legislature took this $1.2 billion and hired 2,400 new state employees at $50,000 in pay and benefits or 3,600 new employees at $30,000 each. Even if these employees were just allowed to sit around all day doing nothing, they would be contributing to the economy of the state by paying taxes and spending the money they received in local businesses. However, there are many jobs they could do that would substantially improve the economic infrastructure of the state. We might dismiss this option as too socialistic, but giving $1.2 billion in tax breaks to Boeing to hire its employees certainly does not meet any definition of capitalism that I have ever seen. It most closely resembles the relationship between government and industry that prevailed in the Soviet Union before its collapse.
If Boeing is allowed to keep $1.2 billion that it should pay to Washington in taxes, somebody else will have to come up with this money. Obviously, most of it will have to be paid by small and middle-sized businesses, which are the main employers in the state. Experience with such companies as Microsoft prove that any one of these companies might grow to be bigger than Boeing within ten years, with a little luck and a lot of good management. Nevertheless, our legislators are penalizing these companies with added tax burdens so that Boeing will employ a few people for a few months or years. How many of these businesses will close down or move out of the state to avoid having to pay extra for Boeing?
When we look at all of the disadvantages, we might ask why the politicians were so anxious to pass these laws. It doesn’t require an Einstein to figure this out, however. Boeing has lots of money to contribute for “public service.” Legislators who support this tax break can expect substantial contributions from Boeing to help finance their next election campaigns. Legislators who didn’t vote for the bills might have to forget about reelection. Governor Locke can expect trouble when he seeks reelection in 2004 because of the catastrophic economic conditions in the state. Boeing has enough money to turn things around for him if he plays ball.
As veterans, we should not swallow the “poverty” excuse from the politicians. If $1.2 billion is there for corporate welfare, a few million should be available for veterans’ benefits. We should also insist that Boeing live up to the Federal contract and employ a substantial number of veterans, something it has failed to do in the past.