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Sessions supported the widow’s tax that Doug Jones just killed

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks during the 30th Annual Candlelight Vigil to memorialize fallen officers on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., May 13, 2018. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo by Glenn Fawcett

After nearly two decades, the military widow’s tax is apparently on its deathbed. 

Thanks to Doug Jones. A U.S. Senator from Alabama. 

Because of Jones and Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, some 67,000 military widows will finally enjoy the military benefits their loved ones were promised when they enlisted and gave their lives protecting this country. 

There are nearly 2,000 of those widows in Alabama. 

The repeal will net them tens of thousands in benefits when the tax is phased out over the next three years. 

It’s astounding that we ever ended up with such a ridiculous setup. Essentially, the tax is used to offset military widows receiving payouts from two separate insurance pools. 

The military’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation program pays the widows of fallen servicemen and women about $15,000 per year and is provided at no cost to enlisted men and women. The second program, the Survivor Benefit Program, requires payments of, essentially, premiums and pays out 55 percent of service member’s benefits to his or her spouse. 

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For family members who qualified for both programs, the widow’s tax kicked in and offset dollar for dollar the amount paid out by the DIC program from the benefits received from the SBP. 

Because, you know, we don’t want military widows going crazy in Vegas on their 55 percent plus nearly a thousand per month. 

I’ll tell you the next thing that needs to be fixed: That 55 percent payout to widows. 

Let me get this straight. If we send a soldier to some godforsaken sand pit on the other side of the world to protect oil wells and he/she is killed by a roadside bomb, we tax him 45 percent for dying? 

That seems … infuriating. 

Look, I get that the spouse of a service member isn’t in a life or death situation every day. But those spouses make it possible for the soldiers to do their jobs. 

There aren’t too many days that go by, when I’m cleaning yogurt off a couch or trying to force shoes onto a squirming toddler, that I don’t think of the men and women left behind by deployed service members who are doing these things alone. While worrying that their partners in life might never return. And holding all of life together for them both — because this country asked them to go somewhere else and defend the homeland.  

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And we’re docking them 45 percent. 

And up until now, we’ve also been taxing them because they got an extra grand per month from another program. 

It’s a wonder we have anyone willing to fight for this country anymore, given the way we treat these men and women when they come home. The promises we break to them are staggering. 

We’ve cut their benefits, refused to pay their health care costs, left them dying in VA waiting rooms, pulled the rug from under their tuition reimbursements and taxed their widows. 

Thankfully, this one small piece will be fixed. 

But it literally wouldn’t have happened without Doug Jones. And I don’t just say that because he was a co-sponsor of this bill. I say that because during the numerous attempts to repeal this tax over the past 18 years, there has been one guy always standing in the way. 

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. 

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The former (but always junior) senator from Alabama went on record voting against the repeal of the tax in 2005 and 2012. At other points, his opposition to the repeal, along with others, helped stall repeals and prevent floor votes. 

Because we just couldn’t afford it. 

Sessions never had a problem, of course, voting to send young men and women off to war, at a cost of trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives. But the cost of providing military widows with decent benefits was simply too much of a financial burden. 

But elections have consequences, and when voters in this state rejected Roy Moore and turned to Jones, they put in place someone who actually cares about the working class, the military and the poor. 

It took Congress 18 years to repeal this tax. 

It took Doug Jones just two.

 

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Josh Moon
Written By

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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