WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka expressed serious concern about the Budget for Fiscal Year 2008, proposed today by President George W. Bush.  Akaka said the budget shortchanges veterans, retirees, students, middle class families and the environment. 

"While these spending cuts are supposedly there to fight the huge deficit built during the first six years of this Bush administration, in reality this new budget does little to rein-in the uncontrolled spending that is threatening our nation's security," Akaka said.  Many of the perceived savings in the budget amount to nothing more than creative accounting, Akaka noted, and the budget still fails to account for the full costs of the war in Iraq.

Hawaii's 117,000 Veterans Could Be Hurt By VA Funding Shortfalls:    

The budget requests approximately $34.2 billion for veterans health care, a mere 6 percent increase over the 2007 funding level of $32.3 billion in the Joint Funding Resolution expected to pass the Senate.  Once inflationary costs are subtracted from the Administration's budget, the real increase is far from adequate.  This budget will not allow for any new initiatives, including enhancements to mental health services desperately needed for our returning servicemembers. Without adequate funding, the VA health care system will find it more difficult to provide quality care for Hawaii's 117,000 veterans and troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senator Akaka said today he's especially concerned about out-of-pocket expenses veterans would be forced to pay under the Administration's new budget proposal.  "The doubling of drug copayments for veterans, who make as little as $28,000 a year, seems particularly cruel.  Take the example of a veteran living on Oahu, where the cost of living is so high, who takes seven different prescriptions each month: his out of pocket cost goes up by $600 a year.

"Why are we asking veterans to suffer in order to finance a war?  This Administration consistently fails to consider the cost of caring for veterans as part of the cost of war," Akaka said.


February 5, 2007