Dateline: Washington, D.C. June 1, 2013
In a rare Saturday on-the-record press conference, President Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney announced new austerity measures for the Department of Defense.
“Hi, everyone, and thanks for coming out at such short notice.
Due to the intransigence of House Republicans, who prefer to pander to their fat cat corporate patrons, over the abiding interests of the solid working class of this country, and who thus refuse to end this deeply unhealthy and divisive sequestration, Secretary Hagel has shared the following plans with President Obama. The President has carefully considered the plan prepared by the Secretary, a former Republican Senator, I might add. And let this refute any irresponsible accusations that this President does not engage in bi-partisanship.
Secretary Hagel shared with the President the number of troops expected to return home to their loved ones, as a direct result of the unflagging work this President has put into achieving peace in nations torn by ill-advised wars launched by his predecessor. He applauded the President for this historic achievement.
Nearly 100,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and Air Force personnel will be arriving over the next few months, as the Secretary implements the President’s new Bring Them Home Now initiative. While this is clearly good news for our military personnel and their loved ones, the Secretary informed the President that the timing of the return will create tremendous stresses on the Department’s budget, which is already stretched to the breaking point by the foolish and unnecessary sequestration of funds forced on the administration by the Republican Party and its Wall Street patrons.
An immediate and acute need will be providing adequate accommodations to our returning heroes with decent dwelling spaces for themselves and their loved ones. The sequester forced the Secretary to have torn down thousands of housing units on bases all across the country. It is shameful that the Republican Party should force these men and women, who have given so much to their country, to live out in the open, while the Republicans and their bosses relax in their summer homes.
The Secretary proposed, and the President has approved, the following common sense solution to the problem of our brave men and women returning only to find that they have no home in this, their homeland. This moderate, common sense approach will not add one penny to the Federal deficit. Let me repeat that: we will not increase the Federal deficit at all by implementing the Secretary’s plan. We can only hope that this concession on spending will suffice to get the House and Senate Republicans on board. Now is not the time for partisan rancor, of the kind exhibited these past five years by the Republicans, following the orders of their corporate overlords, in jack-booted lockstep.
Effective today, the Department of Defense will be putting to use resources that are otherwise idle or under-productive, by placing returning troops into unused, or underused, space in existing homes. The Census Bureau has provided the Defense Department with data on which houses have spare rooms, basements or attic space, which can be used to provide the shelter our returning warriors so desperately need. Homeowners should welcome this opportunity, since it means that they will have highly trained and heavily armed veterans right there with them in the event of any kind of emergency. The President intends to reintroduce legislation banning the owning of firearms, in light of the protection provided by the armed and trained veterans who will be embedded in our neighborhoods.
These returning heroes have sacrificed much for all of us. It’s not much to ask that we scoot over a bit on the couch to make room for them and their loved ones. And this moderate, compassionate, common sense plan can be put in place without an extra nickel being added to the Federal budget.
I’m sure there will be many questions going forward. We anticipate, for instance, that some of the Census data may be out of date. Any American who believes that there is no room at his or her inn for these incredible women and men, is free to appeal the decision regarding their home. All they will have to do is prove the Census Bureau data to be wrong, and appropriate adjustments will be made. Rather than create a new bureaucracy to handle what we anticipate will be a handful of complaints, the President has directed the IRS to be in charge of enforcement of Bring Them Home Now.”