Look at Big Picture
To the Editor:
I read with interest the Commentary by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) on Sept. 28 (“Upgrades Highlight Necessity to #BeThere for Area Vets”). It was, in essence, a public service announcement to my fellow veterans informing them of some of the benefits available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is not surprising that an able politician such as Rep. LoBiondo (over 20 years in the House of Representatives) would take the opportunity to put his name before the public in a favorable light, six weeks or so before Election Day. It is certainly his right to do so, and I would not criticize him for it.
However, as we approach Election Day the voters should consider the larger picture of providing benefits for our veterans. The presidential candidate of Rep. LoBiondo’s party has proposed that the VA be privatized. I would ask, why should a private corporation be given a monopoly franchise to profit off the sacrifices of our veterans? Would a private monopoly be more efficient than a government monopoly? The private corporation would inevitably be driven to increase profits by cutting benefits.
I am reminded of the situation in the mid-1990s, when the Republicans gained control of the House and Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th) was named the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. He evaluated conditions and proposed a considerable increase in the budget for the VA. When he refused to lower the requested increase, his party’s leadership removed him from his chairmanship position. They were so focused on lowering government expenditures that they forced a government shutdown in December 1995.
Today’s Republican congressional leadership seems even more intent on reducing the budget. They forced another government shutdown in October 2013 and have threatened other shutdowns. Regardless of Rep. LoBiondo’s intentions on Veterans Affairs and other topics, his positions, which could be described as considerably more moderate than the vast majority of his Republican colleagues, have no chance of prevailing in the face of the current ultra-conservative Republican majority.
The remedy for this situation for the voters of the 2nd District would be to elect the Democratic candidate, David Cole, a resident of Sewell, Gloucester County and formerly technical adviser in the Obama administration. This would contribute toward the establishment of a Democratic House majority that would more accurately represent the positions of the majority of the 2nd District.