Politics
FILE - In this Tuesday, July 13, 2010 file photo, U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division board a C-17 aircraft at Baghdad International Airport as they begin their journey to the United States. President Barack Obama on Friday Oct. 21, 2011 declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history, announcing that all American troops would be withdrawn from the country by year FILE - In this Tuesday, July 13, 2010 file photo, U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division board a C-17 aircraft at Baghdad International Airport as they begin their journey to the United States. President Barack Obama on Friday Oct. 21, 2011 declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history, announcing that all American troops would be withdrawn from the country by year's end. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)  

Obama compliments military but cuts money, jobs and praise for soldiers

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama has an election to win, so he’s praising the U.S. military. “The biggest honor of my job is serving as commander in chief,” he told attendees at a top-dollar political fundraiser on Nov. 7.

That’s a new line in his fundraiser speeches; he also added that “I get the chance to interact a lot with people who are based all around the world [while] Michelle interacts with military families here, throughout the country.”

Obama quickly drafted the soldiers’ overseas military efforts to his political cause of bigger domestic government.

“The kind of sacrifices they’re making on behalf of their country, the kind of commitment and discipline, and putting country ahead of self-interest, is unbelievable,” he said, echoing his frequent claims that Republicans legislators are unpatriotically putting “party before county.”

“For that same spirit [of self-sacrifice] to be captured and to be channeled, and to be the animating spirit of Washington — that should be our goal,” he said. “Because if we do that, there’s no problem we can’t solve. There’s no challenge we can’t meet.”

Obama’s new and self-serving praise for the military — the nation’s most-respected institution — is belied by his policies, say critics.

“If he wants to keep them employed, he should keep them in service and not cut the end-strength of the services,” said Tom Donnelly, a national security expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

If he wants to praise the soldiers, “even if he is going to bug out of Iraq and Afghanistan, it would be better to celebrate [those campaigns] as a success, rather than as something that is just coming to an end,” Donnelly told The Daily Caller.

Despite his claims, Obama doesn’t visit troops “except to use them as props in a policy announcements,” Donnelly said.

Soldiers’ confidence would be boosted if Obama rolled back his efforts to cut the defense budget, said Joe Davis, a D.C. spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The VFW’s president just came back from a trip to Afghanistan where he was besieged by soldiers’ questions about feared cuts to pay and benefits, Davis said.

“Why in the middle of two [military campaigns] would the U.S. government even consider meddling with pay and benefits?” he told TheDC.

Since January, President Obama has announced decade-long defense cuts of more than $450 billion, potentially forcing tens of thousands of soldiers into unemployment.

Obama is pulling U.S. soldiers out of unfinished missions in Iraq and Afghanistan while depicting them as wounded veterans in need of medical treatment and jobs.

His deputies have suggested sharp cuts to military retirement programs and military health-care programs.

Obama’s comments at the fundraiser came five days after the Air Force announced it would fire roughly 9,000 civilian workers from an Ohio center by October 2012. More layoffs will be announced soon, officials said.

The comments came 18 days after Obama ducked into the White House’s below-ground press room to somberly announce that he would pull all U.S. forces out of Iraq. The troop withdrawal announcement came after hesitant White House officials failed to strike a deal with Iraqi leaders, who later told reporters they doubt Obama’s determination to help them fend off pressure from next-door Iran.

“We’ll honor our many wounded warriors and the nearly 4,500 American patriots — and their Iraqi and coalition partners — who gave their lives to this effort … we’ll never stop working to give them and their families the care, the benefits and the opportunities that they have earned,” Obama said from the press room podium, without acknowledging the military’s remarkable accomplishments in Iraq.