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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.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kline's Special Taxes for Veterans and Their Families

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

Over the past week or so, we've been calling out votes John Kline has cast against the interests of veterans. He has voted against increased veterans benefits again and again and again. At a recent veterans' forum in Zumbrota, Kline aide Mike Osskopp tried to explain away Kline's 0 rating from the Disabled American Veterans in 2004 and 2005 by characterizing it as a rating on a single vote --- for the federal budget. It's true that DAV only considered a single vote in 2004, but it looked at five votes in 2005. Since Kline has been in Congress, he's only voted with the DAV three times out of 11 for a 27% overall rating, and two of those came during this campaign cycle.

Kline and Osskopp might argue that it's unfair to put too much emphasis on any one rating, and they're right. Probably a more accurate rating is the grade of C Kline received from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who did a comprehensive analysis of 169 House votes cast over the past 5 years. No matter how you slice it, Kline has been nowhere near as loyal to veterans as he claims.

We wrap up our analysis of Kline's voting record with two special votes. For all his talk of supporting veterans and all his talk of cutting taxes, John Kline has twice voted to continue effective 'taxes' on veterans and their families: specifically, the 'disabled veterans tax' and the 'military families tax'.

11/07/2003, vote #616:
Kline Voted Against Full and Immediate Implementation of Concurrent Receipt. Although Kline is pointing to his work in "ending" the practice of effectively eliminating disability benefits for veterans receiving a pension, the legislation Kline helped put through effects a gradual phase-out of this practice over a 10-year horizon, and does nothing for veterans rated as 40% disabled or less (more detail here). In one of his many efforts to implement concurrent receipt, which would bring an immediate and complete end to this practice, Georgia Democrat Jim Marshall introduced a motion to recommit the National Defense Authorization Act to committee in order to include repeal of the so-called "disabled veterans tax". Kline voted against the motion, which failed 188-217.

5/11/2006, vote #144:
Kline Voted Against Ending the "Military Families Tax". John Salazar of Colorado made a motion to recommit on the National Defense Authorization Act, which would have sent the bill back to the Armed Services Committee in order to put an end to the “Military Families Tax”. Similar to the practice of reducing a disabled veteran's pension by the amount of his disability benefit, current law reduces the amount of a war widow’s annuity by the amount paid out by Veterans Affairs as dependency and indemnity compensation. Kline voted against the motion, which failed 202-220. Every Democrat voted for it.

The motion to recommit was made because separate legislation to end the Military Families Tax, H.R. 808, is stalled in the House Armed Services Committee on which John Kline sits. Kline became one of 212 cosponsors of H.R. 808 on September 26 of this year, just days before returning home to campaign. There is a discharge petition for H.R. 808 with 171 names on it, none of them John Kline’s.

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