augusta free press news


Special Commentary by Chris Graham

Something I got in the mail from Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte the other day caught my attention, though not, I’d bet, in the way it was intended.

“A NEW G.I. BILL FOR OUR VETERANS,” the headline blared at me, with a U.S. flag in the background and a picture of a smiling young soldier with maybe his wife or fiancee or significant other of some sort down in the bottom-left corner.

But didn’t Goodlatte vote against the New G.I. Bill when it came up for a vote in Congress on May 15, I wondered to myself. (And then went back and checked the record – and yup, he did.)

“Recently, the Congress passed, with my support, important legislation that expands the education benefits for our returning service members,” Goodlatte imparted in the letter that began on the next line.

Huh? Whuh? And then things start to make some sense. “The Supplemental Appropriations Bill,” began the next paragraph, and then it was obvious what was being done here. Bait and switch would be one way to put it. Flip-flop would be another.

Funny thing is, it’s not like Goodlatte tried to hide the fact that he voted against the New G.I. Bill the first time through. He said in a statement to the press and in his own weekly column that the reason he opposed the legislation in May was that it included a tax increase on small-business owners. Which is an interesting way to characterize a tax increase on those who make more than $500,000 annually.

Now, I happen to be a small-business owner, and I travel in circles that include a few other small-business owners. None of us come close to having income more than $500,000 annually. Most of us would like to be able to report $500,000 in gross revenues for our businesses annually. But that’s another Special Commentary for another day.

I guess what I’m saying here is that Goodlatte at best was being disingenuous about why he voted against the G.I. Bill back in May. Part of me thinks that I shouldn’t give him too hard a time for voting for the appropriations bill that included the New G.I. Bill in June, because, after all, I agree that it was the right thing for him to do. The question I’m asking myself is – shouldn’t he at least be up front about the entirety of his voting record in his mailer? I ask that because it wasn’t a campaign mailer, but rather something sent out by his congressional office that in the end we, the people paid for.

Should we, the people foot the expense for Congressman Goodlatte to tell us half the story on his position on the New G.I. Bill when the effect is to create a political advantage for the congressman?

I think the answer to that is clear.