Bachmann tells legionnaires ‘We can take our country back,’ but trips over facts
Thursday, September 01, 2011 at 11:55 am
GOP presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann shared her vision of an aggressive foreign policy, which she said would return the nation to its proper role as leader of the free world, at the annual convention of the American Legion in Minneapolis Thursday.
“There are those who want to tell us that our day as a free world’s leader has passed,” Bachmann told the legionnaires. “I don’t believe that statement, and when we conduct our foreign policy, leading from behind, I believe that weakens the United States’ credibility across the world.”
But Bachmann also made some charges that are contradicted by reports from non-partisan congressional offices, for instance, that “Obamacare” would undermine veteran health benefits and that interest payments on the national debt will grow larger than defense spending, .
Like many of the other politicians who spoke at the convention this week, including Pres. Barack Obama, Bachmann vowed to support and strengthen veterans’ medical care, which she said could be undermined by changes to doctor reimbursements and taxes on medical devices by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will largely go into effect in 2014.
“As president I will assure that those who serve today, as well as in the past, have the highest access to the best care,” Bachmann said. “That begins, I believe, by repealing ‘Obamacare’ which I not only believe, but know, will have terrible consequences for you, our veterans.”
But contrary to Bachmann’s assertion, a 2010 study by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service found that the health care plan wouldn’t impact VA or TRICARE programs that serve veterans.
Bachmann also said that U.S. security was threatened by the growing national debt: “By 2020, the interest on repaying our debt will be larger than U.S. entire military budget—that’s sobering.”
But a June report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showed that isn’t exactly the case.
The CBO charted two scenarios for the growth of the debt. One possible outcome features the expiration of tax cuts created by former Pres. George W. Bush in 2001, which Bachmann opposes. Under that scenario, the interest payments in 2021 would account for 3.4 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while defense spending, not counting veterans’ benefits or retirement, would account for 3.6 percent of the GDP in the same year. If the Bush tax cuts are maintained, as Bachmann supports, the portion of GDP taken up by the interest payments would rise to 4.4 percent.
Bachmann also said the country’s role as a debtor to China threatens the country militarily.
“The interest on the payments on the debt are going to the Chinese and those payments are going to build up Chinese military efforts,” she said. “The Chinese military, as you know, recently purchased their first aircraft carrier—the U.S. is now sending money to build up the Chinese military.”
China accounts for eight percent of the country’s total debt, much of which is owed to public programs like Social Security, which means the U.S. government owes the public eight times as much as it owes China.
Bachmann pointed repeatedly in the address to Great Britain, which she said was as an example of a country that was restored to its role of world leader after electing former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who pursued an aggressive foreign policy, including the Falklands War (which she inaccurately said happened in 1992, rather than 1982).
“We find ourselves today in search of another Margaret Thatcher to restore our great country to the thriving nation I believe we can be again,” Bachmann said. ”The good news is we can take our country back because the principles that make our country great lie here in this hall today.”
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