A new level of shame

Stopping death benefits for military families is beneath contempt

We’ve had some low points in this country since the Civil War. The Great Depression. World Wars. The turbulence of the 1960s. Watergate. A president defiling the Oval Office with an intern.

But a new low may have been reached this week when a dysfunctional federal government stopped paying death benefits to the families of fallen troops.

Some 26 families have been denied the benefits – $100,000, plus travel costs – since the
government shutdown started Oct. 1.

We can’t think of anything lower than denying benefits to troops killed in the line of duty, either in war zones or here at home. But that’s what our government has done.

A temporary fix emerged this week when the private nonprofit Fisher House Foundation agreed to cover the benefits until the government can.

But even that is an insult – the supposed mightiest nation on Earth relying on a charity to uphold its most sacred obligations to its fallen troops.

This whole government shutdown has been shameful. But not paying benefits to families of fallen troops is beyond contemptible.

Though House Republicans misguidedly instigated this shutdown, it’s the Executive Branch that has been tasked with carrying it out. The buck stops there.

“This was a voluntary act on the part of the administration,” said Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review online.

The House quickly passed a bill to restore the benefits, if belatedly, though Democrats in the Senate initially showed little interest in following suit.

No one has distinguished themselves in this whole affair – except the very troops whose families the government has forsaken.

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