Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

It's a sad fact that getting Congress to spend billions to put U.S. troops in war zones is easier than convincing lawmakers to help veterans find jobs when they're back home.

A prime example of this is the Veterans Jobs Corps Act, pending in the Senate.

The bill, which would allocate $1 billion over five years to help train post 9/11 veterans to work as police officers, firefighters and in national parks and other public land-managing agencies.

The legislation, which Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley is advocating for, garnered 58 votes in September, but it fell two short of passage because Republicans vowed to filibuster.

The objection, as explained by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in September, is both callous and ludicrous.

"When we find ourselves in $16 trillion of debt and we pay for a five-year bill over 10 years, we make the problem worse," Coburn said.

But here's the thing: The money to pay for the job training, though it would be collected over 10 years, would come from such sources as Medicare providers that are delinquent in paying taxes.

It's not as if we'd be borrowing money from China.

Moreover, Coburn's claim that the funding strategy would "make the problem" worse is barely credible, considering $1 billion is a pittance in the federal budget.

We're more interested in what the bill would make better - namely, an unemployment rate for veterans that exceeds the national average.