Editor:

Congress should be balancing its budget every year. But some leaders in Washington are far too quick to think the only way to do this is cut benefits for groups like veterans. Congress tried to slash veterans' pensions last year, for example, but quickly learned this was unacceptable to most Americans and reversed the cuts – after years of war, we should be doing more to help wounded veterans get their benefits faster, to help unemployed veterans find jobs and get homeless veterans off the streets.

Keeping these promises isn't incompatible with balancing the budget. Congress just needs to make smart choices and reduce wasteful spending. For instance, our military doesn't need to spend $1.5 trillion on a new F-35 fighter jet that is behind schedule, over budget and more vulnerable to enemy fire than planes we've been flying since the 1960s. One study estimated that we could save more than $40 billion by replacing this jet with proven aircraft already in our fleet.

We shouldn't accept the false choice between cutting spending and taking care of veterans. Congress can do both.

 

JIMMY R. GOMEZ

U.S. Army Col. Retired

Albuquerque