Cornyn criticizes Noriega's stand on GI benefits bill
Mon June 23, 2008 11:31 am

This is the first paragraph of Cornyn's release earlier today:

Senator John Cornyn’s campaign called on Rick Noriega to support G.I. bill improvements approved overwhelmingly by the U.S. House last week. The measure now includes transferability of education benefits, allowing Armed Service members to transfer unused benefits to their spouse and/or children. It is an improvement long sought by Senator Cornyn and opposed by Noriega.

What's going on here? Noriega has centered his campaign on his military service and on supporting veterans. He has strongly criticized Cornyn for opposing the version of the G.I. bill sponsored by James Webb (D-Virginia). Webb's bill offered more benefits for G.I.'s than a grinchier Republican version sponsored by John McCain (R-GOP ticket). The White House and the Pentagon got really bad press for opposing Webb's bill, arguing that the higher level of benefits would provide G.I.'s with an incentive to leave the military -- the implication being that lower benefits would make them stay in. So how did Cornyn, who voted against Webb's bill, end up looking like the G.I.'s friend, instead of Noriega, who voted for it?

Poor Noriega can't catch a break. The Democratic House of Representatives did him in. As Cornyn's release indicates, the main difference between Webb's bill and the approach favored by the White House and the Pentagon, was "transferability": allowing family members, as well as the G.I.'s themselves, to use the education benefits provided in the bill. Webb's bill provided a higher level of benefits but no transferability. The House voted overwhelmingly for a typical election-year "compromise": It gave G.I.'s everything: the higher level of spending AND transferability. The Democrats were not going to get caught opposing the troops, and the Republicans were not going to get caught defending the White House. The House vote let Cornyn off the hook for voting for the lower level of benefits -- and provided an opportunity for a finger-wagging press release aimed at Noriega.

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