WHITE HOUSE DOWN: President Obama’s Shameful Death-Benefit Theater

Depraved? Who you callin' depraved! Expect a visit from the I.R.S., motherfucker

Shameful? Depraved? Who you callin’ depraved? Expect a visit from the I.R.S., motherfucker…

The Obama administration insisted Tuesday it had no choice but to withhold death benefits to relatives of 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, a 25-year-old soldier born and raised in San Diego, and four other soldiers killed since the partial government shutdown began Oct. 1.

This is ridiculous and perverse. President Barack Obama has used an expansive — and some legal scholars believe extreme — interpretation of his powers to unilaterally rewrite key provisions of the No Child Left Behind law, the sweeping 2002 measure that drastically reshaped federal education policies. In similar fashion, the president has unilaterally rewritten key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, his sweeping 2010 measure that is drastically reshaping federal public health policies. His administration has also essentially rewritten federal laws governing illegal immigration and penalties for drug possession.

Just this month, the federal government has authorized the spending of billions of dollars since the partial shutdown began without explicit congressional approval. Contrary to the Obama administration’s representations, there are not hard, definitive rules governing how the executive branch must act during these budget fights. That is reflected in the amazingly arbitrary ways that the federal government has shuttered some services and agencies but not others — often with the barely hidden goal of making people suffer to build pressure on House Republicans to give in to the White House. For one of hundreds of examples, the Armed Forces Network serving U.S. military personnel abroad still shows news — but it has stopped showing NFL games, blaming the shutdown.

This is obnoxious enough. In denying death benefits to the relatives of fallen U.S. soldiers, however, the Obama administration has broken new ground in its budget theater. This decision is accurately described as depraved.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the president was prepared to act unilaterally to resolve the problem. But Carney also insisted the denial of death benefits was House Republicans’ fault. Those claims are not mutually sustainable.

Soon afterward, the White House announced that the Fisher House Foundation — a private organization that helps veterans in need — would provide the death benefits and be reimbursed after the partial shutdown. At about the same time Wednesday, the House voted unanimously to authorize paying survivor benefits. Thankfully, this problem is going to be solved, one way or the other.

But the outrage should remain. On Wednesday, CNN reported that on Sept. 27, days before the shutdown began, the Pentagon was already telling reporters it planned to suspend death benefits.

So for two weeks, the Obama administration has been anticipating this nightmare would come to pass — and did nothing to pre-empt it. Only when the Pentagon began denying death benefits and the backlash began did the White House realize this ploy was a political misstep and seek a fix.

It is an appalling commentary on the president and his administration that they chose to bully the families of dead American soldiers for perceived political gain.

Shame on Barack Obama.

By U-T San Diego Editorial Board


2 Comments on “WHITE HOUSE DOWN: President Obama’s Shameful Death-Benefit Theater”

  1. […] The Butcher The Obama administration insisted Tuesday it had no choice but to withhold death benefits to […]

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