File this under “you know it’s a slow news day when”:
John McCain gets tax-free disability pension
The disclosure of the Navy benefit for injuries incurred as a Vietnam POW may raise fitness questions.
Sen. John McCain has long said he is in robust health and is strong enough to hike the Grand Canyon, but he also is receiving what his staff Monday termed a “disability pension” from the Navy.
When McCain released his tax return for 2007 on Friday, he separately disclosed that he received a pension of $58,358 that was not listed as income on his return.
If McCain had to pay taxes on the full amount of the pension, it would have increased his tax bill by about $18,000 based on the percentage of his income he paid to the federal government.
McCain spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. After he was released in 1973, he returned home on crutches and began a painful physical rehabilitation. He later regained flight status and commanded a Navy squadron before retiring from the service in 1981.
McCain would be the oldest man to enter the White House if he is elected president, and questions have been raised about his health.
McCain has twice developed melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer.
The fact that he is legally designated with a disability pension may raise further questions.
“It is a legitimate question to ask about the commander in chief: Is he fit to serve,” said Robert Schriebman, a senior Pentagon tax advisor and tax attorney who recently retired as a judge advocate for a unit of the California National Guard.
If McCain can hike across the Grand Canyon, then why should he be getting disability payments from the government that are tax-exempt, Schriebman asked.
McCain shattered his knee and broke both arms when he was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967.
Dafydd at Big Lizards has the appropriate take down for the LAT here.
I don’t have any issues with the public’s “right to know” about our president’s – or potential president’s – health condition, because we want assurances that he or she can or will be able to physically hold up against the weight associated with holding the highest office in the land, but this article goes off a cliff by suggesting that McCain’s inability to raise his arms over his head “raises further questions” about his fitness to serve as president.
I think if McCain can endure 5 and a 1/2 years as a POW, and go on to serve multiple House and Senate terms, the presidency – though an incredibly tough and trying job, no doubt – should be a walk in the park via comparison. Apparently the LAT believes otherwise.