Romney promises VA revamp

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wants to transform the Veteran Affairs Department, with an emphasis on technology and reforms to business processes. Among the key promises he made during a July 24 address to the VFW National Convention in Reno, Nev., is reduce the backlog for disability benefit claims by eliminating unnecessary red tape and adopting a consistent electronic claims processing system.

In addition, Romney’s reform plan would expand the VA health system to reach more of the 41 percent of veterans living in rural areas and make online consultations, tele-homecare and tele-monitoring more available.

If elected president, Romney said, he would also undo the $1.2 trillion in defense cuts slated to take effect Jan. 3, 2013. The across-the-board reductions, required under sequestration after a bipartisan committee failed to agree to more targeted cuts in 2011, would “severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats,” he said.

“Don't bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking,” Romney said at the Reno convention. “Strategy is not driving President Obama's massive defense cuts. In fact, his own secretary of defense warned that these reductions would be ‘devastating.’”

(Fact check: What Romney calls "President Obama's massive defense cuts" are part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which passed Congress with the votes of 202 Republicans -- 174 in the House and 28 in the Senate.)

Romney’s line of thinking contradicts the majority of Americans from both sides of the political aisle who support defense spending cuts. A July 16 survey by the Program for Public Consultation, the Stimson Center and the Center for Public Integrity showed 74 percent of those in districts represented by Republicans gave a thumbs-up to the defense cuts. In Democrat-run districts, 80 percent approved the substantial reductions to the military budget. 

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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