It seems strange to have Democrats, led by Vietnam veteran and Virginia Sen. James Webb, offering a bill with generous education benefits for military enlistees, and John McCain opposing the bill. What gives?
As one might guess, things aren’t what they seem. No reason to question Webb’s sincerity, or those of some supporters. Webb based his bill on the benefits offered World War II veterans, many of them draftees. The reason McCain and Bush oppose Webb’s bill is that it would encourage volunteer enlistees (from an all-volunteer, zero draftee military) to leave after one hitch, since Webb’s bill provides no increase in educational benefits for re-enlistees. McCain’s bill, supported by Bush, would scale up educational benefits the longer one serves, and McCain would also make educational benefits transferable to a family member, which would further encourage continued service. Democrats unsurprisingly denied senators the chance to vote on Republican McCain’s bill.
Dark minds like mine believe Webb’s bill appeals strongly to Democrats because its effect is to undermine military recruitment, thus hurting the military machine and thereby making future wars less likely.