Sen. William Proxmire (D.Wis.) called for prompt action yesterday to halt Filipinos who receive Veterans Administration benefits from "living a life of Riley" compared to U.S. veterans.
He called it "amazing" that devaluation of the peso relative to the U.S. dollar allows Filipinos to receive seven times the median income of the Phillippines. This compares with the 70 per cent of median income that veterans in this country receive.
Presiding over a Senate appropirations subcommittee, Proxmire was told by the General Accounting Office, the State Department and the VA that action by Congress would be needed to change the situation and to eliminate many glaring abuses the VA is powerless to stop.
Rufus H. Wilson, deputy VA administrator, agreed "there is a crying need for us to look at" the situation.
But Robert B. Oakley, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, called for "caution before undertaking any substantial reduction or elimination of programs affecting the Philippines" in light of delicate diplomatic negotiations now under way.
Gregory J. Ahart of the GAO told Proxmire that "if Americans in the U.S. were paid equal benefits on the same ration to median family income as a Filipino veteran, a totally disabled veteran with a wife and two children would receive about $102,750 per year."
Proxmire said he was especially shocked by Ahart's claim that many Filipinos and dependents to go school under the GI bill merely for the money and have no intention of graduating or using the education. Ahart said the GI bill gives them more money than their professors or deans in college earn.