When Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz spoke at The American Legion 93rd annual National Convention this morning, he stated it's "the most special place to be in American today" and characterized the Legion as a model of political behavior.
As a retired Command Sergeant Major from the Minnesota National Guard and a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Walz compared the conduct of Legion leadership with that of his Washington colleagues. "Your leadership is on point with this, they understand that when politics are broken people tend to retreat to their corners and believe in an either-or answer. You bring a common sense approach to tackling our nation's problems. You stand up to them in Washington. You understand you don't get an either-or choice with national security. You get it right or you get it wrong. We simply won't accept the choice to get it wrong."
"My colleagues, my constituents, and you are the heart and soul of this country. I see the (Legion) members I serve with as colleagues, and I respect and cherish them, but it's for the people in this room that I measure and analyze my performance, the language I use, the outcomes and the effectiveness of what I do. (Consider) the sacrifice that our soldiers are making - we saw 63 of them make the ultimate sacrifice this month. It is a disservice we do to their memory and to their honor by taking our politics to the level that it has (been taken). This absolutely has to end.
"Being here with you and watching how this organization operates, seeing the successes you've had, there's a model in this room for how this nation can function. There's a model in this room for how we can eliminate the divisions and false choices that don't make us any safer, don't make us any more prosperous and, quite honestly, don't make us any happier as a nation. The Associated Press reports that Congress has a 12% approval rating. I want to know, ‘who the hell are those 12%?'."
Walz ended his remarks by echoing President Barack Obama who, in addressing the Legion convention the previous day, said "We cannot, we must not, and we will not balance the budget on the backs of our veterans."
"We can discuss cutting benefits for those with TRICARE by increasing their co-pays," Walz said, "but only after we remove the mortgage deductions for yachts. I feel very strongly about programs like Medicare and Social Security, but people who rely on these programs are on a different level than those who rely on veterans' benefits because of what it took to earn those benefits. It took something above and beyond; the willingness to sacrifice time, career and in some cases, their life for this nation. That's not a bribe; it's not an entitlement. That's a grateful nation understanding that we're going to keep our strength as a nation. We have to let them (the veterans) know that we're going to keep the faith for them. Promises made are promises honored."