Veterans have always been political bread and butter. It has become a game: who supports Veterans more? This debate has ratcheted up a couple of notches after the budget negotiation reduced the Cost of Living increases for working age retired Veterans (under 62 years of age).
The adjustment in the COLA for working age retired Veterans would save the government about $7 Billion dollars. Of course the Veterans organizations were outraged over these cuts, and so was Senator Kelly Ayotte.
Here is a little background on Senator Ayotte. She currently sits on the Veteran Affairs Committee in the Senate, and is married to Joe Daley who is a retired Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel. This fight over retired Veterans COLAs is personal for Senator Ayotte because it directly affects her and her family. This cut will directly affect Joe and his retirement benefits.
I agree that we should not be making these COLA cuts to our brave men and women who retired from the military at a young age. There are many possible solutions to restoring these cuts and the proposal that seems to be getting the most traction is the one to change the ‘Additional Child Tax Credit’ (ACTC). It would require the person claiming the ACTC to file their taxes with the IRS under their Social Security Number.
Currently working immigrants file their federal taxes using a Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) because they cannot get a Social Security number until they are US Citizens.
This change is a direct assault on the millions of hard working immigrants who are paying their federal taxes and legally claiming their dependents under the ACTC program. Once again, the only way to get a Social Security number is to be a US resident. This means that if you are not a US Citizen (even if your children are), you still have to pay taxes, but you cannot claim the ACTC.
The Bipartisan Policy Center stated, “Effectively, this would allow the IRS to deny ACTC benefits to households headed by unauthorized immigrant parents, regardless of the child’s citizenship status.”
This is where the whole plan gets very complex. For example, there are many households in the US right now headed by parents of a US citizen – but due to the immigration process, the parents are not US citizens themselves. Even if the child is a natural born American citizen, their parents could not claim them under the proposed ACTC changes.
(Note: Senator Ayotte later amended her proposal to provide an exception for parents of US citizens.)
We are not talking about a few hundred people filing for these credits. According to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General, in 2010, ITIN filers reported $60 billion dollars in wages. The Bipartisan Policy Center reported that, “a large majority of unauthorized immigrants’ children are U.S. citizens.”
To me the issue could easily be resolved by passing a comprehensive immigration bill, like the one that has already passed in the US Senate. We can clear up the tax questions quickly by allowing these parents of US citizens to become citizens themselves. Making a roadmap to citizenship allows those people who are already living and working – and paying taxes – here in the United States a way to become citizens themselves.
We should stop trying to find ways to punish them for being undocumented, and find ways to help streamline the citizenship process. Some of them have been working on getting legal citizenship for years now, all the while living, working, and paying taxes like every other American.
Now our Congressional Representatives are waging war between Veterans and immigrants to find a way to restore the cuts to Veterans’ retirements.
Here is an idea to solve both problems: let’s stop building war machines that we do not need and put that money back into the budget where it can do some real good. Like the F-35 fighter jet, which is billions over budget and still cannot fly at night. Or the hundreds of tanks that the Army and Marine Corps do not want, which are being built just to stored in the desert boneyards, with no intent to actually use them.
By trimming the fat off the DOD budget, we can open our doors to all immigrants, feed our nation’s poor, and create a better education system through proper funding.
Or we can continue to build weapons of war that we do not want or need.