Akaka, Craig Sound Off on 2008 Budget:

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, says the savings in President Bush’s Fiscal 2008 budget request are essentially the result of creative accounting—it puts veterans, retirees, students, and families as well as the environment at a disadvantage while failing to account for comprehensive war costs in Iraq. He also said he’s worried that the requested six percent increase—approximately $34.2 billion—for the VA health care system is “far from adequate” once inflationary costs are subtracted. On the other hand, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), ranking committee member, says he thinks the budget makes it clear that President Bush is making veterans a top priority. If the budget is approved, he says, it will amount to a “stunning” 77 percent increase in VA program funding since the President took office. (The entire VA budget request for 2008 is $86.8 billion.)