Budget Passes Congress–But at What Cost?
The 2014 budget deal has been passed by Congress and now heads to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated that he has the votes to send it to Mr. Obama for his signature.
The 2014 budget proposal drafted by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan which was voted on Thursday, Nov. 12, and while it replaces about half of the sequestration’s cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending over 2014 and 2015, it also includes a provision that will affect an already short changed segment of our society- our Veterans. Democrats don’t like the level of savings proposed earlier by Republicans from civilian federal workers, so cutting money from the military could make concessions in the bill more acceptable according to some on both sides of the political aisle.
According to the proposal, the provision cuts the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for military retirees by 1 percent a year until reaching age 62. While this doesn’t sound like much, the cuts will have a huge impact, reducing retired pay for those who serve 20 years by nearly 20 percent at age 62. For example, an E-7 (Sergeant) retiring at age 40 today would experience a loss of $83,000 in purchasing power — an O-5 (Lieutenant Colonel) would lose $124,000. According to an article in Military.Com, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) President Vice Adm Norb Ryan said “A 20 percent reduction in retired pay and survivor benefit values is a very substantial cut in military career benefits and does not represent good faith to our men and women in uniform.”
According to US Army’s website, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the average active duty service member receives an Army benefits and pay compensation package worth $99,000. Noncash compensation represents almost 60 percent of this package which includes health care, retirement pay, child care and free or subsidized food, housing and education. Basic pay for active duty soldiers earn anywhere from $18,200 for E-1, to $69,300 for O-4 (Major with 6 years’ experience), so the benefits package is much needed and for new recruitments it’s a big plus. Having this latest proposed cut, added with other cuts such as the latest in proposed closing of US Commissaries and other across the board cuts, this could have a huge impact on recruitment not just for the Army, but for the other branches as well.
These cuts if passed will fully take effect in 2016. Understandably many in our Armed Services community are angry over these latest (of many) betrayals by Washington. Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said, “This will negatively impact the military, and eventually impact national security… How are you going to retain high quality people to spend a career in the military if they think their benefits will get cut?”
The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) sent out an alert to its members saying, “VFW calculates that this will have a devastating impact on retirement benefits for retirees and survivors and jeopardizes the future value of military career benefits, and adversely effects recruitment, retention and our national security.”
Many Conservative groups and some Conservative republicans are also disgusted with the budget, not mentioning the proposed military benefits cuts. Speaker John Boehner of course dug in and hit back at conservatives who are disgusted with this budget. According to an article in HuffPo, Boehner had this to say, “You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?”
Gee Mr. Speaker, is that anything like “We have to pass it to see what’s in it” and then going ahead and passing it on the promise (now broken of course) of repealing it? Out of curiosity Mr. Speaker, how much money was spent on all the committee work, backroom deals, paperwork and staff hours for a government takeover of America’s healthcare industry- which despite problems, worked for millions of Americans? Not only a failure of many in Congress to abolish Obamacare, but another thing that is hurting not just millions of civilians who are losing their healthcare plans, but of many of our Service Members as well.
Unlike the elected representatives who passed a bill which is a monstrosity unleashed on the American public, we don’t need to read the details before smelling a surrender which is typical of the GOP establishment. It’s enough to know that this proposed bill will hurt those who always have protected us, those whom you send to fight, but forget about.
Boehner added, “And frankly I just think they’ve (conservative groups) lost all credibility.” We’ll see Mr. Speaker who’s lost when voters return to the polls in 2014.
I have written before of cuts to our military where more money has been found for unnecessary and often ridiculous ‘studies’ and programs that the federal government has no business spending billions on, and more billions annually being paid out to illegal immigrants for social welfare programs.
If responsible households ran their personal budgets the way our federal, state and many local governments run theirs, many of us would be either homeless or in prison for fraud. Growing up, I learned that if you don’t have the money to buy something, then don’t buy it. The same should hold true for our government, but by the typical tax and spend system they have put in place over decades, raising taxes to fund more spending long ago became the norm for both parties, and now has grown into an insane and downright criminal level in which generations to come will have to dig out from.
There are so many wasteful pet projects, programs and institutions which the federal government has had no business funding. So many things could be cut in other areas, or even abolished, but it is always those who are sent to fight around the world that have to beg for needed items on the battlefield, and who have to fight the hardest back home to hold onto what few benefits they have left.