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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Concurrent Receipt

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

In mid-September, John Kline sent out a direct mail piece claiming, among other things, that (emphasis in original):

For over 100 years, America's disabled veterans were punished by a practice known as 'concurrent receipt'. What it meant was that, for every dollar a disabled veteran received in disability benefits, that dollar was removed from their pension. It penalized veterans for injuries they received in service to their country.

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Congressman John Kline helped negotiate the agreement that ended this unfair policy.

It turns out this is doubly misleading. To begin with, 'concurrent receipt' isn't the name of this 'unfair policy'. Rather, it's the solution to the unfair policy:

Concurrent Receipt means to receive both military retirement benefits and VA disability compensation, and up until 2004 this was forbidden by law. To receive a VA disability compensation, disabled military retirees had to waive all or part of their military pay.

In earlier posts on this topic, I got the terminology wrong too, because I mistakenly assumed Kline had it right on his flier. I won't make that mistake again.

The fact that Kline got this exactly wrong on his flier suggests two things. First, it suggests that he wasn't exactly a driving force behind the policy change, if he wasn't even paying sufficient attention to get his terminology correct. Second, it shows (as if there were any doubt), that when Kline sends out a mailing, he's really only interested in perceptions and not substance.

Beyond errors in terminology, the agreement Kline worked on didn't 'end' the unfair policy, as we have discussed previously. Rather, it provides relief for veterans rated as 50% disabled or more, and the relief is phased in over a 10-year period. Kline has stubbornly ignored a bill which would bring a full and immediate end to the practice.

Pioneer Press reporter Frederick Melo recently wrote an analysis of John Kline and Coleen Rowley on veterans issues, and asked Kline about his partial implementation of concurrent receipt. Kline response was "We took that on. It was very expensive. We couldn't get everything (we wanted) done."

But the record shows that the partial fix is exactly what Kline wanted done. When the 108th Congress ended, a bill to provide full concurrent receipt died in the House Armed Services Committee with 383 cosponsors and 207 names on a discharge petition. As a member of that committee, and of the majority party, and as a retired Marine, John Kline could easily have forced the bill onto the floor for an up or down vote, and in all likelihood it would have passed.

But he didn't. He didn't even take the token step of cosponsoring the bill. John Kline needs to stop pretending that he takes this issue seriously.

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