Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, it is an honor to be here with the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Strickland), the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Allen) and the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Michaud). Maybe we can get a two-on-two basketball game going here, the Ohio guys against the Maine guys. I just want to say what an honor it is and how terrific it is I think that the gentleman from Maine became the ranking member on a subcommittee in the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in his freshman year. I think that speaks volumes of how he has been approaching the issues and how important it is to him. But the one issue I wanted to just touch base on for a few minutes, and I know it is getting late and our time is limited, about the mandatory funding. We have an opportunity to make sure that our veterans are funded every single year through the mandatory funding provisions that we want to implement. Right now it is discretionary funding, it is up to the whims of Congress on whether or not our veterans should get their health care. The request from the Secretary of the VA is completely underfunding the needs.
Everyone keeps saying, ``Well, we're spending more on veterans now than we ever have. We are spending more. We have increased by X percent over the last few years.'' And the one point that continues to get ignored is that we have thousands of more veterans entering into the system. So although there is an increase, if you increase it by 5 percent and the numbers of veterans coming in increases by 10, 15 or 20 percent, then the money you have in the pot is not big enough to handle the needs for our veterans.
[Time: 23:00] And what has happened under the current system, under the discretionary funding system, is that we have failed to keep pace with the medical inflation; we are rationing care to our veterans; we are denying services to some, as the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Strickland) said; we are foregoing a lot of the modernization techniques and investments.
And the one point that I really wanted to bring up because I think it is so appropriate given the state of war that our country is in, reducing the funding for research and development for prosthetics. The VA was award winning in the country for the kind of developments and the research that they would put in and the kind of advances that they have had regarding amputees and trying to help amputees who come back. In this war we have seen more amputees than we ever expected because we do not have the armored Humvees, and just the way this guerrilla war is being fought, we have a lot of veterans who are losing their arms, losing their legs, and now back at home we are cutting the investment for trying to improve on prosthetics.
Not only that, but when we take a step back and we look at the big picture, this is about choices and we can say we do not have enough money to fund all these programs for our veterans. That is a shame in itself if one has to say that, but at the same time they will not reduce the tax cut for millionaires.
We are not asking to reduce the tax cuts for anyone that has made under $300,000, $200,000. In fact, Democrats want to increase the child tax credit and increase the breaks for middle-class people. But when one says that they are not willing to repeal any portion of the tax cut for people who make more than $1 million to pay for this veterans funding, we have a problem in this country.