Another year, another disappointing and deceitful budget from President Bush. Again he’s using creative accounting to mask the damage his uncontrolled spending is doing to our deficit, our economy, and our nation’s security. Again, the President fails to account for the full costs of the war in Iraq. And again he’s shortchanging veterans, retirees, students, middle class families and the environment.

I am particularly upset that the budget again under-funds veterans... who are in particular need right now, due to the wars the President started. I voted against the Iraq war authorization in October 2002... but now that we’re there, we need to bring our troops home safely, and we need to take care of the men and women who have made huge sacrifices in the name of our country, some of whom are, sadly, seriously injured, physically and mentally.

The budget requests an increase in Veterans Affairs funding that barely keeps up with inflation. This budget will not allow for any improvements to mental health services which are desperately needed for our returning service members, especially with the rise in PTSD and other serious ailments caused by time in combat.

The doubling of drug copayments for veterans – who make as little as $28,000 a year – seems particularly cruel. A veteran living in Honolulu who takes seven different prescriptions each month will see his out of pocket cost go up by $600 a year.

Why are we asking veterans to suffer in order to finance a war? This Administration consistently fails to consider the cost of caring for veterans as part of the cost of war.

All this...and he’s still not wavering on those tax cuts for the rich. I look forward to working with my Democratic colleagues in the Senate to push President Bush to take care of our nation’s veterans... it’s our patriotic duty.