Monday, January 24, 2005

Reviewing the American Promise, Part 1

I'm going to try and review each of the 10 Senate Bills included in Harry Reid's "American Promise" agenda.

Standing With Our Troops (S.11)

Democrats understand that putting America‚Äôs security first means providing our troops, both the active duty and reserve components, and their families with the resources they need to protect our freedom.  S. 11 recognizes the sacrifices our troops make on our behalf by providing them the personnel, equipment, compensation, and benefits they need to them accomplish their mission. 

Key Points:

* Increase Army and Marine Endstrength By Up to 40,000 by 2007

Bush's misadventure in Iraq demonstrates that America does not have a large enough active duty force to deal both with the fight against terrorism and any other regional conflicts that may arise. This would address that problem.

* Recognize the Sacrifice and Valor of Our Troops

Requires better accounting of deaths and injuries to America's fighting men and women. Sets up advisory panel on awards and decorations to better recognize their sacrifice. I wasn't actually aware that the latter is a problem, but if it is then this would be a good issue to push.

* A National Guard and Reserve Bill of Rights

Bush's misadventure has sorely stressed our Reserve and National Guard services while their status in the military effectively treats them as second class citizens compared to the active military. This point contains a whole list of measures designed to rectify this problem including: improving equipment procurement, better representation within the Defense Department, timely compensation, improved compensation for civilian workers called to active duty, access to health care for all reservists and their families, increased death and survivor benefits.

Summation: This bill contains a lot of stuff, all of which looks needed to me. I think it is long past time that the Reserve and National Guard stop being treated as the military equivalent of a petty cash fund. A Guard and Reservist Bill of Rights is a good first step in that direction. The politics of this is good but the policy is even better. It's going to be hard for Republicans to vote much of this down and, if they fail to do so, the Democrats will get the credit.

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