Beau Biden. Special to Cityview
Vice President Joe Biden’s son Beau, a major
in the Delaware Army National Guard who served
in Iraq, is challenging Mitt Romney’s commitment
to veterans, suggesting American military men
and women may be swept up in a rush to privatization
of government services under a White House led
by the former Massachusetts governor.
In a phone interview, Beau Biden, 43, the Democratic
attorney general of Delaware, said presumptive
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has embraced
elements of privatization for Medicare and other
federal programs in the form of running mate
and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s
What’s more, Biden said, Romney has more than
hinted at dramatic changes to veterans benefits.
“He chose Veterans Day of last year to assemble
a group of veterans to propose the voucher-izing
of veterans benefits, which is a not-so-very
euphemism for the privatizing of veterans benefits,”
Last November, Romney did raise the specter
of Veterans Affairs privatization.
“If you’re the government, they know there’s
nowhere else you guys can go, you’re stuck,”
Romney told a group of veterans at Mutt’s BBQ
restaurant in Mauldin, S.C., according to ABC
News. “Sometimes you wonder if there would be
some way to introduce private sector competition,
somebody else who could come in and say each
soldier has ‘X’ thousand dollars attributed
to them, and then they can choose where they
want to go in the government system or the private
system with the money that follows them.”
For his part, Beau Biden, who served with the
261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, was deployed
to Iraq in October 2008 and returned home in
“There should be no debate about the role of
government in taking care of veterans,” Biden
said. “The president understands that’s a sacred
obligation of the United States government,
and Gov. Romney seems to want to privatize it.”
Beau Biden said President Barack Obama has been
an effective leader on foreign policy.
“Speaking as one veteran, the president of the
United States understands what it means to be
commander in chief,” Biden said during the 20-minute
Biden said the president “knows when, where
and how to deploy our forces.”
“That’s what he’s done as commander-in-chief,
refocusing our efforts around the world to eliminate
and go after al-Qaida and improve the mission
to ultimately kill Osama bin Laden,” Biden said.
Additionally, Obama successfully ended the war
in Iraq and set the United States on the path
to hand over authority in Afghanistan, Biden
A big issue for the military is the treatment
of returning veterans, Biden said.
Obama has proposed a 10 percent increase in
spending for the Veterans Affairs budget next
year, and backed a tax credit for small businesses
that employ veterans.
“The president gets it,” Biden said. “Michelle
Obama gets it. Quite frankly, I’m not sure if
Mitt Romney does.”
On a specific veterans issue, Biden is concerned
about rampant abuse with for-profit colleges
and other educational institutions creating
misleading websites and programs to aggressively
recruit military personnel.
“The reality is for-profit colleges, which are
making tons and tons of money and expanding
as we speak, are marketing to, and in a deceptive
way in many cases, to our returning military
veterans because they know they have access
to a lot of money through the post-911 G.I.
Bill,” Biden said.
Biden said he is working with Jack Conway, the
attorney general of Kentucky, and U.S. Sen.
Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to protect veterans from
deceptive pitches from for-profit schools that
are promising educations and degrees they don’t
Depending on the measurement statistics, the
United States is 16 to 20 percent rural, according
to the Center For Rural Strategies. But nearly
40 percent of the people serving in the military
are from rural areas of the nation. As a result,
Biden said, Veterans Affairs under the president
has focused on rural America, and services such
as telecare and transportation.
Biden declined to make any observations about
reports of Romney’s overseas investments, whether
having money in accounts in island nations or
Switzerland is unpatriotic.
“I don’t have any comment on that,” Biden said.
“I don’t question Mitt Romney’s patriotism one
President Obama won Iowa in 2008, and the Hawkeye
State figures to be a battleground again this
November. Biden said voters should take into
account the starting point in early 2009.
“This president inherited the worst economy
in my lifetime,” Biden said. “From the moment
he took the oath of office, he’s worked every
single day to put us on a path to turning this
The United States has posted 28 consecutive
months of job growth and the creation of 4.4
million private-sector jobs since Obama took
Biden urges voters to look at Romney’s specific
plans. They’ll find something familiar, Biden
“His only answer right now is to return to the
failed policies of George W. Bush, which we
know for a fact, and this state knows for a
fact, put us in the hole that we were in in
2008 and 2009,” Biden said. “I’ve not seen one
plan that differentiates in one way, shape or
form from what George W. Bush did over eight
Finally, have Beau Biden and his father discussed
the prospects of the vice president seeking
the nation’s top office in 2016?
“The only thing we talk about at my house is
my kids — his grandchildren — and making sure
the president of the United States is re-elected,”
Beau Biden said. CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa
newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily
Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.