Hot Air

Ilhan Omar would like the GI Bill to apply to everyone

As with so many things these days, it all started with a tweet, this time coming from Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She was quoting a recent article written by a veteran who favors canceling all student debt and generally handing out all the benefits veterans receive from the GI Bill to everyone in the country.

The responses to this suggestion came in fast and furious, with many objections being offered by other veterans. The Washington Times runs down the specifics.

Rep. Ilhan Omar caused a social-media stir this week by promoting an article in which “the ethos behind the original G.I. Bill” was applied to legislation for all Americans.

The Minnesota Democrat elicited the ire of veterans and free-market supporters after sharing an AlterNet piece by Will Fischer — a Marine veteran — titled “A veteran explains why we need a new version of the G.I. Bill — for everyone.” …

Critics pointed out that underlying costs will always be paid by individuals despite public officials offering “free” resources.

After the responses started coming in (see Twitchy for a more complete list), Omar returned to the social media platform to complain that it wasn’t her saying this. She was quoting the author of the article.

Not for nothing, but that’s a rather weak excuse at best. She was obviously endorsing the idea by promoting the article with a quote and a link. If you look at her Twitter profile, Omar doesn’t even bother including the default “RT does not = endorsement” disclaimer. But that’s not really the point here. What we’re talking about is the article’s author’s idea about applying the GI Bill to everyone.

As it happens, I received the benefits of the old – old GI Bill. I enlisted shortly after turning 17 on the Delayed Enlistment Program in 1976, partly because the original GI Bill was being trimmed down considerably the following year. (It was thankfully given significant improvements again in 2011.) It provided not only college tuition assistance, but mortgage guarantees for your first home and a variety of other bonuses. I’ll freely admit it was a big help after leaving the service.

It’s also important to note that these benefits aren’t cheap. The government spends a fair amount to provide these benefits. Now imagine doing that for all 350 million-plus people in the country. The great fallacy in the “generosity” in many of the plans being proposed by Democrats today is the idea that anything is ever actually “free.” Someone always has to pay the bills, and that winds up being the taxpayers. There is no free college tuition because it costs money to operate a college. “Canceled” loan debt doesn’t simply disappear. The ledgers have to be balanced somewhere, and yet again, it’s the taxpayers that will foot the bill.

But most importantly, as many attempted to point out to Ilhan Omar, benefits offered by the GI Bill aren’t “free” to those receiving them. They are offered in recognition of those who wore the uniform and put their lives on the line for their country. And they did it for very little money or other material rewards. (The starting pay for an E-1 when I enlisted was $397 per month.) Nobody is “giving” these men and women anything. They earned it. And it disregards that service to suggest that everyone in the country is somehow entitled to the same rewards.

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