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McCain and College Access for Veterans

By Alyson Klein — May 16, 2008 1 min read

From contributing blogger Alyson Klein:

Presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona is (finally) working on an education issue. Well, kind of.

Some U.S. senators, led by Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat, and Sen. John Warner, a Republican, both of Virginia, are trying to craft a “new GI Bill” that would offer a generous new college access benefit to many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill would pay for four years (!) of tuition at a public university, plus a living stipend and money for books and other supplies, Webb’s spokeswoman, Jessica Smith, told me yesterday.

But some Republicans (and conservative Democrats) are balking at the cost, estimated to be about $51.6 billion over 10 years. Over in the House, they’ve solved the problem, at least politically, by increasing taxes on people earning more than $500,000 a year. That got the support of the conservative Democrats. But the proposal’s still gotta get through the Senate, where it’s run into problems in part because of its cost and the potential tax increase.

Enter McCain, who, according to this Washington Post story has proposed “a less generous” alternative that would offer the “richest benefits” to service members who have done multiple tours. Naturally, many veteran’s organizations prefer the Webb-Warner plan.

Still, if McCain can compromise with Democrats to help get the new GI Bill out of the Senate, it would definitely give him something to brag about on the campaign trail, and on an issue (college access) with which he hasn’t been closely identified in the past.

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