Landry And The Guam Reparations Fiasco

Telling the truth in Washington is controversial.

If he didn’t already know it, Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA) is finding that out as he’s in the midst of a donnybrook over a bill which would pay reparations to residents of Guam from the U.S. Treasury for atrocities Japan committed in World War II.

Landry is opposed to spending American dollars paying for the sins of an enemy America spent hundreds of thousands of lives defeating. He says we don’t have the money for it.

While presiding last week as acting chairman of the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, Landry said he understands the anger on Guam over the atrocities committed by the Japanese. But he said the United States may not be in a position to provide compensation, given the urgent need to reduce the $14.3 trillion U.S. deficit. Landry said the previous Congress spent an “ungodly amount of money” and that can’t continue.

“The tension here is a matter of cost of where we are financially in this country so understand that is why I choose these issues,” Landry said. “It was not to slight anyone.”

What angered the Guam officials most was Landry’s decision to read into the record a 2007 report by the conservative Heritage Foundation that says the United States shouldn’t pay claims because it bears “no blame here and no responsibility” for the rapes, beheadings and forced slavery that occurred during the Japanese occupation of Guam.

Naturally, telling an interest group “no” to federal dollars makes you cruel and insensitive. So Landry is cruel and insensitive. And they hate him on Guam now.

“Your statements … were unfortunate and insulting to all the people of Guam,” Judith Guthertz, a Democratic senator in the Guam legislature, said in a letter Tuesday to Landry. “Even given that you had to borrow your opinions from the Heritage Foundation, from the Pacific, where it comes to being treated fairly and equitably by the new members, you reinforce our belief that we in Guam are indeed the forgotten Americans.”

She said that the reason Japan didn’t pay reparations, as the Heritage Foundation says would be appropriate, is because the United States and its allies decided not to impose such penalties on Japan after the war because its finances were in ruins and the allies wanted its few resources reserved for rebuilding.

The reparations legislation, sponsored by Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, a Democrat, would provide $10,000 to $15,000 for “living Guam residents who were raped, injured, interned or subjected to forced labor or marches” during the Japanese occupation, and up to $25,000 to be divided among the surviving spouses and children of Guam residents who died during the Japanese occupation.

Guam’s Democrats are certainly forgettable, whether they’re forgotten or not. World War II ended 66 years ago; if it wasn’t important enough to secure reparations from Japan during that time period it’s awfully difficult to understand why it’s important to secure them from America now. And Bordallo’s bill is Obama money in spades – the idea that 10-15K 66 years after the fact to people now in their dotage does anything but buy votes is contemptible, not to mention that 25K to relatives of Japan’s victims on Guam is naked in its pilfering of our empty treasury. After all, it wasn’t American soldiers who brutalized civilians on Guam – it was our enemies who did it.

But because Landry recognizes this for the ridiculous money-grab it is, he’s insensitive. If you’re a politician in this country, the only way you can show compassion for people is to spend other people’s money on them. If you want to find out why we’ve got a $14.5 trillion national debt, this example is a pretty good place to start.

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