Not Mitt Romney.
Speaking in Reno Tuesday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the oldest existing national veterans association in the country, the Republican nominee gave a hollow boilerplate speech on foreign policy which said nothing he hadn't already said. Repeating six decades of Democrats-are-weak-on-defense rhetoric, he vowed to keep Iran and Russia in check, keep Israel America's friend and keep America itself the No. 1 military power on the planet. He intoned the phrase "an American century" five times, echoing the two-dozen or so neoconservatives on his foreign policy advisory team's now-defunct Project for a New American Century.
But for the veterans as veterans? Nothing. There's a good reason for that. As Laurin Manning at the American Bridge points out, Romney's proposals for taxes and spending would devastate veterans. Some examples:
• His proposed budget would boost Pentagon spending but ax $176 billion in non-defense discretionary spending by 2016. That would mean cuts in veterans’ health care and veterans’ disability compensation.
• By 2022, his proposed budget would cut non-defense spending by 59 percent. According to the Boston Globe on April 12, 2012: "At issue are these programs, just to name a few: health research; NASA; transportation; homeland security; education; food inspection; housing and heating subsidies for the poor; food aid for pregnant women; the FBI; grants to local governments; national parks; and veterans’ health care. Romney promises to immediately cut them by 5 percent."
• According to ABC News on Nov. 11, 2011: “Mitt Romney suggested on Friday that he was open to introducing ‘private sector competition’ into the health care system U.S. military veterans receive. At a campaign event in South Carolina, Romney raised the possibility of a voucher system."
• As governor, Romney cut funding for veterans’ cemeteries and outreach centers by $86,018 in May 2003.
• Gov. Romney increased fees for long-term care at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home. According to the Lowell Sun in February 2003: "The changes include a $100 fee for clients to determine eligibility for Department of Mental Retardation services, imposing a $10 fee to issue Certificates of Blindness to legally blind citizens, and increasing user fees for long-term care at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.”
There's a good reason Romney had nothing new to say about foreign policy. And a good reason he had nothing to say about what his policies for veterans have been or would be. But he is, of course, notorious for his ability to say one thing today and the opposite tomorrow. From that perspective, the fact that he did not propose improvements in benefits for veterans is a bit of a surprise.