The Ryan Budget Epitomizes How Washington Views Veterans

Vid

(Update: I had a brief opportunity to discuss this issue with Kelly Wright on Fox News recently.  You can view that short interview at the link above).

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to look tough on budget issues.  In an editorial published in USA Today explaining his decision to lead the passage of a budget that reduced vested veteran pensions by an average of $84,000 to $120,000, Mr. Ryan founded his message on the urgent need to “do the right thing.”  In doing so, he created a painful irony;  Ryan’s budget seeks to save $6B over the next 10 years  — equivalent to less than six-tenths of one percent of projected federal spending over that period — by extracting it from compensation already guaranteed to people who earned it risking their lives and defending their country.  In other words, despite his assurances to the contrary, he wants to do exactly the wrong thing.

The military and veteran population stand in awe at Ryan’s explanation.  He apparently believes we are not only naive enough not to overlook the gaping moral maw between his words and actions, but also dumb enough not to see this for what it is: just the beginning.  If he can decouple vested veteran pensions from inflation while we still have people dying in combat, there will be nothing to stop him from continually enlarging the legitimacy of  promise-breaking until veterans wake up one day and realize the pension package they’re getting bears no resemblance to what they and their families earned.

Ryan presents a classic false dilemma.  He wants us to believe the nation must choose between keeping promises to veterans and remaining secure. He admonishes us that “since 2001, excluding the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cost per service member in the active-duty force has risen by 41% in inflation-adjusted dollars.”  What he doesn’t mention is that when the $6T eventual price tag of those wars is counted, personnel costs will define a tiny percentage of their total price tag, despite the fact that any success we register from those conflicts will have been wholly earned not by machines, but by the people who fought and died to carry out the nation’s will.  Paying people isn’t something we do instead of staying secure as a nation . . . it’s the very way we stay secure.  People win wars, not machines, bureaucracies, or defense contractors.

What Ryan also doesn’t mention is that part of the reason money is running short these days is that he voted to authorize and expand the two wars whose costs have now finally become so inescapable that he and others can no longer deny them.  As these costs fall due, the search is growing frantic for the most politically expedient way to ameliorate them, and politicians like Ryan are finding it easier to target troop pensions than to engage DoD in genuine reform. Mr. Ryan obfuscates his purpose by hiding behind Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and his generals, claiming their desire for pension reform vindicates his attempt to extract budgetary savings on the backs of warriors who have just endured the most punishing operations tempo in national history.

But notwithstanding that the Chief of Staff of the Air Force claims DoD wasn’t even consulted before the Ryan-Murray provision was inserted, what Ryan doesn’t advertise is that Hagel and the generals are struggling to make ends meet because Congress and the President have underresourced the department without granting it  mission relief, leaving them with a problem they can’t legally solve and have a solemn duty not to abandon.  Hagel, Dempsey and the service chiefs desperately want reform, and are entitled to the presumption they’d rather not achieve reform in the predatory manner thus far undertaken.  But this isn’t reform.  This is the opposite — it’s the avoidance of reform. This is cheating . . . by saving money without having to engage in reform. This is back-door budgeteering. Nothing more.

Reform is deliberate, methodical, and transparent.  This is an attempted legal heist. Mr. Ryan clearly hoped it wouldn’t be noticed. He now laments being caught red-handed by veterans and their representatives, who now rightly wonder whether Congress has already forgotten what it promised in exchange for a dozen years (and counting) of voluntary misery.  The unease now sensed from among the veteran population should be taken as a dire warning: haphazardly breached promises that send the wrong kinds of signals to current and past service members will fundamentally disrupt the eagerness of Americans to serve in the future.  Abraham Lincoln said this during the Civil War and it holds true still, especially  given the dozen years of abusive management practices that have already ground down our all-volunteer force.

Ryan wants to have an economic discussion masquerading as a moral one, but the veil he constructs is as thin as the paper upon which he scribbles down new promises certain to be broken when it becomes politically expedient.  Ryan admits he seeks to take $100,000 dollars out of the retirement accounts of veterans who earned that money by risking their lives in combat. This is morally repugnant, but clearly Ryan and his colleagues are more compelled by economic convenience. He thinks veteran pensions are just another lavish government handout to be squeezed in the name of fiscal conservatism.  Incredulous, veterans find themselves on the wrong side of socialist impulses undertaken by an avowed counter-socialist; Ryan seems to be saying working age retirees don’t need  all that money, so it should be taken from them and given to some other budgetary recipient who needs it more.  Ryan has made a career railing against this very thing, saving his lone exception for a most unfortunate notion.

Paul Ryan says of military members, “[w]e owe them a benefit structure they can count on.”  This is the most revealing sentence in his editorial, because he uses the word benefit.  No, Mr. Ryan doesn’t owe them a benefit.  Military retirement isn’t a social benefit. He owes them the compensation promised by their country.  It’s not a benefit.  It’s a vested pension.  It’s earnings they already paid for.  That they earned those benefits in ways Paul Ryan doesn’t understand because he’s never served doesn’t change that fact.  He and his colleagues owe those who already acted in reliance on their promised pensions exactly what they were warranted, and not a penny less. Two million retired veterans (and hundreds of thousands currently serving) made career decisions based on this reliance, and cannot now go back and change those decisions.  Ryan understands the irrevocable nature of these decisions on some level, given that he now wants to make sure disabled retirees don’t lose any pension money.  His theory is that they made decisions that ended up limiting their horizons.  What he seems to be missing is that most military retirees did the same thing.  Perhaps what he’s really saying is you only really earned your pension if you bled for it enough to be disabled.   Those who bled less, and merely risked life and limb for 20+ years, deserve something less. Again we find ourselves talking about who needs or deserves to be paid a pension, rather than starting by viewing an inflation-adjusted pension as the inviolate obligation we all understood it to be at the time it was offered in exchange for service in combat in time of war.

Mr. Ryan, speaking directly to you now, if you’re truly going to engage with veterans, you’ll have to learn to knock off the nonsense and talk straight.  Stop playing pretend, admit what you’re doing, and either stand by it or don’t.  You were part of the movement that imposed sequestration on the DoD, over the objections of everyone who knows anything about national defense.  Now that the generals are telling you they can’t maintain readiness without more funding or fewer missions, you’re looking to avoid tough decisions by grabbing for some easy cash, and have chosen the place where resistance is least likely – a constituency that isn’t allowed to speak out on its own behalf and has been socialized to refrain from complaining even when abused.

Well, you miscalculated.  We noticed.  We noticed you didn’t bother forcing DoD to reform itself (or even pass an audit based on current practices) before you allowed it to prop up a false narrative of runaway personnel costs – notwithstanding you and others voted for the current levels of compensation in order to carry out the wars you advocated without having to advertise their true costs to the American people.  We noticed you didn’t ask the President to shut down the war in Afghanistan any faster, even though doing so just one month earlier than planned would completely finance the  savings you instead chose to take from  pensions we earned with mortal risk and one kick in the gut after another over the last dozen years.  We noticed that you didn’t bother dialing up the uber rich – those who extract the most from the free-market system guarded by veterans – and asking them to contribute a little more in exchange for their freedom to earn riches insulated from threats to national security. To do so has long been an honorable American tradition.  You chose a different path, and we noticed.

Most of all, we noticed you didn’t acknowledge you were breaking a promise.  You, the President (as recently as September of this year), previous generals, and two previous Defense Secretaries reassured veterans time and again that any reform of the pension system would not touch the compensation of those who already paid their dues.  You haven’t acknowledged that by slipping this back-door provision into the budget, you spearheaded a successful effort to break those promises, which we consider sacred and fundamental.  But you underestimated the American veteran, who is typically an unselfish team player averse to complaint, but never stupid.  We have families who rely on us to fight for them, so we have no intention of going quietly while you pass off  quasi-larceny as “reform.”

Paul Ryan is a futurist.  He’s concerned with what runaway compensation costs might do to the national debt over the course of the next ten years.  Not so concerned that he wants to look at reducing Congressional pay or the pay of generals, admirals, and senior executives. Just concerned enough to cut the pensions of the military’s middle class.  Those who do the hard fighting for twenty years or so and exhaust themselves and their families in the process before heading out onto the open job market . . . where they find, at a disproportionately high rate, that learning to conduct organized violence isn’t always a boon in the private sector.  But before we trust his credentials as a futurist, we should consider what he foretold ten years ago.  He was then busy voting to send America’s sons and daughters into Iraq without a clear objective, a proper declaration, or even a legitimate cause.   He now wants to keep the benefits of his decision while disowning the obligations.  That is not only an impeachment of his futurist bona fides, but the textbook definition of doing the wrong thing.

The war Ryan supported in 2002 and doubled down upon in 2007 broke the spine of the all-volunteer force, and we’ve spent the subsequent years concealing that fact with personnel abuses and a heavy reliance on the sense of duty of our volunteers.  In that time, they’ve stayed because they believed in their teammates and knew someone had to help get this country out of the mess it had gotten into.  But they relied heavily on the fact they’d be able to take care of their families when the time came to re-purpose themselves, and in doing so came to depend on the pensions they earned. The Ryan-Murray provision has many of them feeling like they’ve been made fools for trusting their country’s word as a bond. If Ryan and his colleagues are allowed to proceed with taking the easy way out, Americans will regret ten years from now (or  sooner) that they allowed such casual promise-breaking to inflict a slow-bleeding but mortal wound upon the all-volunteer force . . . which depends fundamentally on the reliability of promises to function.

Paul Ryan wants us to do the right thing.  I agree with him.  Accordingly, I encourage Mr. Ryan and his colleagues to move swiftly in reversing course and grandfathering all currently-serving career military personnel and their predecessors who’ve already retired in any reforms. Anything less might save some money, but will do so at the cost of moral bankruptcy.

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  • Reggae

    Tony you hit it on the head. This is compensation not a benefit issue. If you want to cut benefits go after those getting benefits not those collecting a pension they earned. The lack of public support by the service chiefs is disgusting! I wouldn’t follow the current chiefs to the restroom. If you want to cut spending its easy…revenue has to be greater than expenses! Decrease the size of the government, control costs and don’t surrender to special interests. Don’t steal from the patriots or they just may storm the castle!

    • A. Wade, 23+ year military spouse

      Great job covering this issue! The only thing I would add is that it is the RYAN-MURRAY deal which passed, with Sen. Murray and the Democrats equally responsible along side Republicans in pushing and passing this national disgrace! They should all be voted out!

    • mitzi601

      Trust me, we are all hoping the patriots storm the damn castle! ENOUGH!

  • JD

    We cannot let this stand. Our earned compensation should not be pawns in the game of our ruling elites. Please take the time and read this article by someone who has our veterans interests at heart. If we Veterans can be screwed out of earned compensation, what can happen to those that have to rely on government benefits. They (Republicans)will use this as a future bargaining chip, or worse a precedent to further erode our Earned Compensation. Remember we do not receive benefits we earned this compensation, some are severely injured; missing legs, arms, paralyzed or unemployable. We can find better ways to have the DOD save $$$$. Support Primary challengers for all who voted for this monstrosity.

    • http://msandstone@gmail.com Maria Sandstone

      JD, absolutely, it is shameful that those that have given up so much for this country (military past and present) have given up so much still. If we want to make serious cut backs, the government should cut the pay, pension and benefits of politicians at federal and state levels. supreme court judges should not have life time appointments and government workers of these levels should be tested every year they are in office (senators, congressman etc, including presidency) for their worth, (by merit) like what have you done for the people, the country for the greater good, and there should be pay freezes for politicians without the authority to vote themselves pay raises. We would save alot, on worthless individuals, who take and take and never sacrifice and never give back like politicians.

      • A Concerned Retiree

        I agree. Political positions were originally setup as part-time jobs. Congressional members who retire get their full pension and health benefits for the rest of their lives. This is not fair. I retired from a Federal civilian military position at one-third my pay. Politicians have taken their “jobs” to places that history never intended.

  • http://www.PickYourBattles.Net Pick Your Battles

    Excellent post as usual Tony.

  • Anonymous

    Did you send this letter to him? You should!

  • ST

    Tens of thousands made career decisions based on this reliance, and cannot now go back and change those decisions. Ryan understands this on some level, given that he now wants to make sure disabled retirees don’t lose any pension money. I guess what he’s saying is you only really earned your pension if you bled for it enough to be disabled. – so well said!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent letter – it well states the moral objections military folks (all of them, not just the disabled) have to this provision. Please consider sending this via email to Paul Ryan and as an actual written letter. In addition, consider submitting it as an open letter to Paul Ryan via any media outlet that will accept it, including USA Today. It is well written! You should also submit it to all of your representatives. We need to make sure the pressure is on when they all get back to town in early January. Thank you for taking the time to put thoughts to paper!

    • https://www.facebook.com/richard.l.ray Richard Lawrence Ray

      Useless to send an actual letter. It will only get to him at his D.C. office weeks or even months after you send it. All congressional mail from constituents goes to an off-site sorting facility to be screened for anthrax and other biological agents. When or if it does get to the senator, his staffers will no doubt send it to the circular file. CALL his local office if you are one of his constituents. E-MAIL if you are not a constituent.

  • CG

    Quid pro quo. Veterans put their lives on the line (and many lost) fighting for this country in exchange for their pension and TriCare benefits.

    Time to pay up, Uncle Sam. Otherwise, next time you call, who will answer?

  • Green Eyed Jinn

    Yup, Paul, EBT benefits up by nearly 30% for 50 million Americans that aren’t working or even risking ANYTHING for America except for how far they can stick their hands out. And never mind that illegals haven’t taken one cut in their “benefits” as taken from tax payers and handed out by a glib elite class that thinks they’re above the rest of America.
    Congress hasn’t bothered to do the “right thing,” or even the SAME thing they think is OK for disabled vets and retired vets…and you think you can entice us by a bunch of self-serving double talk about how we need to take the cut so we don’t somehow screw over our buddies still on the firing line.
    CONGRESS is screwing over our buddies still in combat. And Congress hasn’t taken one difficult choice, be it Obamacare, pensions, pork barrel appointments, travel perks, or their own staff sizes while being oh-so-ready to use and abuse those who have served with honor, courage and commitment.
    I say NO! You are wrong Mr. Ryan. Fix yourself and fix this law.

  • Anonymous

    its time for this man to leave congress need to take a pension cut

  • http://facebook stephen tudor

    paul ryan is a big diappointment. take from the military retirees veterans yet pay for the weapons sent ti syria. illegal aliens cost much more then they deserve which is nothing. he who lives by the sword dies by the sword

  • http://gravatar.com/jillwrains jillwrains

    Amen! Thank you for saying that, so perfectly! Merry Christmas!

  • Anonymous

    The stupidity of the above comment is truly an embarrassment to the men and women who spent their careers defending the freedom of men like Paul Ryan to make idiotic decisions. Mr. Ryan will be held accountable in the long run without such ignorant comments.

  • http://www.liberalismbreedsterrorism.com Ken B

    Paul Ryan is submitting legislation to undo the 1% COLA decrease. We will see if it passes.

    See Page 53
    AMENDMENT TO H. J. RES. 59 murray-ryan_leg_text

    http://budget.house.gov/uploadedfiles/murray-ryan_leg_text.pdf

    • http://twitter.com/Figanootz Figanootz (@Figanootz)

      I don’t see what you are talking about. This is the bill that takes it away.

      • https://www.facebook.com/erikpeterson72 Erik Peterson

        It’s an amendment, the part Ken B referred to is:
        “….the normal-cost percentage under this section shall be determined and applied as if section 402(b) of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 had not been enacted .”

      • https://www.facebook.com/erikpeterson72 Erik Peterson

        (premature sending issues here….sorry)

        Unfortunately, that is the age 62 “catch up”, not a move to reverse this horrible decision.

  • http://Baseops.net Take one for the team

    Tony,

    Well, looks like you’ll have to get a real job now that your entitlement is being ever-so-slightly reduced. I can’t believe you’re attacking this conservative hero. We are $17T+ in debt, man! Time for you to provide a very, very small fair share of the solution, for the greater good of the future of these United States.

    Paul Ryan could have taken more, but he didn’t. Be grateful for what you’ve been given by our Congressional leadership during this Christmas season instead of complaining about a mere 1% cut. You’ll take a 100% cut when this country goes broke.

    • http://Sullivan Larry

      Anonymous,
      Since you’re proposing solutions, why don’t you volunteer $125K of your retirement fund to the Treasury to chip away at our “$17T+ in debt, man!” Maybe the government should just take it without debating the proposal. At that point you’ll have a chance to “be grateful” for what you’ve been allowed to retain.

    • Anonymous

      Grateful for what you’ve been “given”??? Umm, hardly. While I am absolutely in agreement that we all have to be a part of solving the problem, I cannot for one minute agree that our veterans are the ones on whose backs this burden should be placed before cutting other places…such as benefits that are being extended to illegal aliens and Congressional retirement and benefit packages, among others. How dare we continue plucking away at this “low-hanging fruit” simply because it seems easier than doing that which is either politically incorrect or causes Congressmen to actually “take one for the team”?

    • Art

      Did you seriously just tell us to get a job? Did you not realize this legislation cuts the COLA of us… The disabled too? Yes, I am a disabled vet who spent 26 years and 7 time combat veteran. I would love to get a job….. Try explaining what PTSD does to you when your employers want to know why you had three sick days last week. Try telling you grand kids and kids why you can’t play with them because your lower vertebrate shifted again.
      So please don’t tell me he’s a hero. He’s a politician. You want to see a hero? Go volunteer you time at a VA Hospital. Let’s make some cuts to the welfare program…. Or forget this 99 week unemployment BS.
      Some folks just go full stupid when they giving away what others of us have earned and given you.

    • http://www.hglobalgroup.com Rob H.

      I agree that we all should be shouldering a burden in reducing the 17T dollar debt, but what is failed to mention is that in the military we very much so have a class system between Officers and Enlisted retirees, where over the course of an Officers career he or she, earns significantly much more than his enlisted contemporary and the Officers earning potential is astronomically larger compared to enlisted personnel earning potential and retirement and to add the wear and tear on the minds and body’s of our Enlisted Soldiers.

      If there is a cut, I believe it should be with Officers only due to education, future work potential and earning power they have outside of the Army. As an Army Field Grade Officer, for profit and non-profit business owner and have been forwarded the opportunity to be well educated, the 1% off of my retirement if I choose to complete my 20 years or more which I am 2/3 complete, won’t make much of a difference at all because of the development and experience that I attained while in.the service, which makes tremendously marketable.

      In regards to a real job outside of the military, being an Officer with multiple combat tours and a entrepreneur, I would classify my civilian work as enjoyable compared to the hardships I have experienced in the service, placing my life above the men and women under my care.

    • http://fb sandi

      clearly you have never served or put your life on the line “for the greater good”. try living the life of a military family, then you might have an opinion.

    • J Rogers

      Wow, how absolutely insulting. I served with Lt. Col Carr. I was his First Sergeant for a few years and I can tell you that Tony is the finest example of an officer and service member of the United States that we have to offer. Bet you didn’t know he started off enlisted and worked the ranks to become an officer and an outstanding pilot. Regardless of whatever you think, our promise has been broken. Imagine if we did the same? It’s easy on the outside to make comments from a perspective that you cannot possible understand unless you have served. I am retired and have a great job, however, I’ve done my fair share and before I’m asked to make that sacrifice I would fully expect congress to lead by example.

    • https://www.facebook.com/patty.orourke.1 Patty O’Rourke

      Take One – are you kidding me? What you consider “ever so slightly reduced” is being taken from pay that is/has already been reduced because of our benefits and VESTED RETIREMENT. I received a statement from Congress annually reminding me of that. I have no problem paying my fair share through taxes, as every other money earning resident of the United States, but until EVERYONE’s pension is going to be reduced by 1% a year, payable to the IRS then you are exacting an additional tax on us and only us. Since you feel this is justifiable I challenge you,and everyone else that supports it to write a check for 1% of your income each year in addition to your regular taxes to pay your fair share for the next 22 years. 23 year vet here.

    • https://www.facebook.com/joshua.pugliese.5 Joshua Pugliese

      You need to “take one for the team” over in Afghanistan bro… It’s not about the $$$, it’s the principle… Do you have any idea how much these clowns in DC are raking in for their retirements? And if you think any of them give a rats ass about you, me or anyone else you or I know, your nuts, whether civilian or military… I’ll provide part of the solution when Congress starts deploying to Afghanistan for 12 months at a time…

    • http://Gmail Matt

      Who the heck are you, “be grateful”. Your idea is take it out of a pension that was earned. I spent the better part of the last three years deployed away from my family. Just one example of why we are different from the average civilian. You want to fix this country, here’s one way stop giving tax payer dollars away to low life’s that refuse to work. Stop giving handouts to illegal immigrants. How about making it mandatory for a member of congress serve twenty years for a pension instead of one term. How about you give up your pay. You know what you ignorant piece of crap. Why don’t you pick up a gun and stand watch in some remote F’ing place with a day or two of rations I wouldn’t feed my dog. We the few the proud the United States veterans should By-God be untouchable. We have done more for our country in 5 years than most people will ever do in a life time. You must be one of those socialistic liberal jackasses that have the Robin Hood mentality. The only post you should put in her Sir is thank you vets.

    • http://gravatar.com/thepenisblueblueblue thepenisblueblueblue

      You could not be a bigger ass than to make this statement. You have no idea the sacrifices military members make to secure your freedoms. Yet you claim we need to provide even more to solve the problem…blood, sweat and tears weren’t enough, eh? And what have you provided? I’m sure you would love to give up $80,000-$120,000 of your 401K to help out as well, right? Sitting smug behind your computer screen, you’re probably one of those that continually feeds off the system to sustain your life, while casting aspersions on those that actually make an effort to work and provide. It’s unappreciative people like you that cast the dark shadow on our country today, and who should be drafted to face the fronts lines of preserving freedom so you can get a taste of what it takes to keep your sorry ass safe at night. Then we’ll see how much you cry out in favor of taking away from those that actually do it. Pathetic.

    • http://twitter.com/Figanootz Figanootz (@Figanootz)

      Mr “Take one for the team” is obviously a troll.

    • Bob

      Folks, don’t listen to people like “Take One For The Team.” People like him, specifically the Tea Party, are sorry excuses for American’s and frankly an embarrassment to the human race. I rank the Tea Party up there with Nazi Germany, Pol Pot, and Stalin in terms of their delusional desires. They mask their psychotic thinking in a veil of “USA! Patriotism” and flag waving, but are really nothing more than a bunch of unintelligent, emotionally over reacting fundamentalists, hence the term that has been bestowed on the Tea Party…The American Taliban.

      It’s movements like that Tea Party that spread fear and hate through sheer ignorance. They despise education and service because the two are a threat to Tea Party brainwashing. Education and service give one the ability to think freely, which is a threat to fundamentalist entities like the Taliban and Tea Party.

      Frankly, people like Take One For The Team are the worst possible example of American that we can present to the world. They are a disgrace to our nation.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget why we have this country.

  • @Get on the team first

    Wow…its amazing what those who do not/have not served will say.

  • SPAR76

    @Ken B–the proposed amendment in the link you provided does *not* “undo” the COLA cap reduction. It provides for retired pay to be restored back to the fully adjusted amount after reaching age 62–everything lost between 1 Dec 2015 and reaching age 62 remains lost.

    @Take one for the team–it’s not a “mere 1% cut”–one more percent is lost every year from retirement to age 62…1% in the first year, then another 1% for a total of 2% in year two, and another 1% for a total of 3% in year three etc etc. A typical retiring NCO who joined at age 18 and served 20 years will see the accumulation of those cuts total close to a quarter of the inflation-adjusted value of his pension by the time he reaches age 62. I’d like to see the look on your face after your employer tells you at the end of month that he just decided to reduce your pay for the work you’d already done that month.

  • proud army wife

    Those that served have already given more than their share. They have sacrificed time with their families, missed the births of their children, and some have lost their lives and you have the nerve to tell them to suck it up, be grateful. No, this is NOT a social welfare program, this is their pension, it has been earned, this is what was promised them in return for defending this country, and they have done that, now it is time for promises made to them to be kept.

    • Anonymous

      Another proud Army wife here…AMEN to what “proud army wife” said!

  • kevlaur

    Shame on us for thinking the gov would take care of us.

  • Sammy F-15E

    Clearly, sir, you haven’t spent Christmas, Anniversary, Birthdays shivering in a tent, getting ready for your next mission, while your family isn’t even sure where you are. The people posting her have…all in the name of American foreign policy which they may or may not agree with. I’m retired military…will this cut hurt me? probably not…but to some it will be very painful. However, that’s not the point…the point is that we’re taking away from what has already been earned. You wouldn’t understand that in the least…you’ve seen your baby born, have been to dear friends’ funerals, while these folks have missed them, in that same tent, this time in 120 degree desert heat. Raise our taxes…we expect that…don’t take away what’s already been earned. You’re honestly questioning the military on sacrifice for the good of the country? You, my friend, are the one receiving the “entitlement,” and your military is the one providing it…wake up!

  • GForce

    Well said. Semper Fi and God speed.

  • http://facebook Joe

    I am shocked that our congress, especially the conservatives, would enact legislation that would remove any of the promised retirement benefits from the service personnel.

  • Proud Military spouse

    Tony, I agree with everything you say. But I do take exception with one statement. You say that Ryan doesn’t take into consideration reducing the pay of Generals and Admirals as a way to reduce our deficit. Do you realize these military folks have paid their dues, just like those of the “middle class” as you call them? They have spent more than 25+ years serving their country, rising through the ranks to get where they are. Their pay, for what they do, compared to their civilian counterparts (if there are any) is considerably lower than civilian pay. But at that level, they aren’t doing their job for they pay, they are doing it because they love the service and love their country. They too, are deserving of a proper retirement pay just like those they serve along side.
    I do hope that everyone in the military sends a letter or email to their congressperson to try and right this wrong; thank you for standing up for us.

    • KMC

      Right on!

  • Anonymous

    Outstanding Tony! These politicians need to take a good look in the mirror and realize we who have served “have paid a price” protecting our country and it’s crazy to think we “need to do our part” schumer is another clueless idiot that is saying this. Time for a HUGE overhaul of DC’s political landscape. Veterans and their families need to remember who voted YES to this.

  • http://www.msn.com Military Vet

    Proud Military Spouse, this particular set of generals are the most political that I can remember since joining the Army in 1984. Perfect example, recently the three star AFRICOM Commander was caught red-handed making stopovers with his wife in the Bahamas and other places in luxurious hotels, going up to NYC and staying in luxurious hotels to meet with Denzel Washington and then renting expensive hotels for months at a time in the DC area-not even staying there and leaving it for his staff to parting in…this is just a partial list. So what did the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff GEN Dempsey and Army Chief of Staff GEN Ordierno recommend to SECDEF Panetta? A reprimand. Luckily, Panetta chose the hard right and reduced the guy in rank and made him retire. Had that been any of the “military middle class” we would have been in Ft Leavenworth in prison. These generals also enjoyed a disproportionate pay raise as well. They are political animals and that is why they are in these positions today. The President has recently gutted the general staff(of all 4 branches) of those who disagreed or offered different opinions.

    • Proud military spouse

      Military Vet, while I do wholeheartedly agree with you that there are those in “upper management” in the military who are corrupt (just like those in our illustrious government), there are even more Generals and Flag Offlicers who are working hard to do the right thing. Don’t lump all in the same barrel are those who choose to soil the uniform of the US Military for their own greed.

    • Another Military Vet

      Military Vet, please have all your facts straight. With respect to the previous AFRICOM Commander you discussed, the fact was that he rotated out of the position because he was at his 40-year mark. He was retained on active duty until his investigation was complete. Then he was told he could retire as a 3-star but with 40 years of active service.

      A huge difference between the senior generals and CSMs is that most have over 35+ years are service and are close to that magical age of “62” where these changes don’t affect them much. LTC Carr states it accurately, but most forget, when you make general, you serve at the request of the President. There’s a reason why there is a Congress and the military is subjective to it. A lot of people may not agree with it, but it’s the system we have.

  • Military Member

    Well done LTC Carr. It’s also insulting that congress and DOD can prioritize $1T on the JSF program to produce 2,400 jets for the United States and provide a common platform for our allies, yet find cost savings in people. All the while, UAV technology is quickly advancing. We have far more aircraft carriers, nuke subs, land based missiles than we need for defense, and pay heavily to maintain them, but can’t honor our personnel contracts. The army has 8,000 more M1 variants than we can man and continue to upgrade them. Our army would need to grow to nearly 2.5 million to man all of our armored vehicles. Our social benefits are out of control. However, retirees somehow are the current target because they have the least powerful and politically connected interest groups in their corner. If the American people don’t speak out, pensions will continue to be the target. Perhaps this is our punishment for not mobilizing the American people, industry and economy. Twelve years later, the public still has no skin in the game and they aren’t being taxed in proportion to the wars we have fought.

  • NVR

    So, why is it that the Military always overwhelmingly vote Republican?

    • http://www.PickYourBattles.Net Pick Your Battles

      Why is it that Ron Paul got more campaign donations from military folks than all the other candidates combined in the last election?

  • https://www.facebook.com/blaze.lipowski Blaze Lipowski

    I have written my congressional leaders on this issue, and so far I have received 1 reply from Senator Michael Enzi who wrote: “The budget agreement written and negotiated by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D- WA) looks a lot like many other budget deals negotiated behind closed doors. This is a symptom of the abandonment of the committee process. Instead of representatives and senators offering constructive amendments, some of which could address and explore the veteran retirement issue, and debating spending bills in public, a couple people and their staff sit in a room and then present a take-it-or-leave-it deal right before a holiday or manufactured crisis deadline.

    The specific language in the budget resolution that unfairly targets our military retirees has serious flaws. These need to be addressed. However, the majority leader once again blocked the ability to offer amendments. The legislative process was created for a reason and the majority leader is doing our veterans and those who serve in our armed forces a disservice when he fails to make full use of it. All of our veterans and service members deserve our deepest respect, and this is not the proper way to show that. I voted against this budget deal”.

    Let me add, that at my 15 year mark, I did take a reduction in my military retirement (a.k.a. REDUX), thinking that I would be able to serve 22-23 years to make up for the 10% I fore gave, but health issues negated that option, and I barely made my 20 years as an E-6 and honorably retire. Granted, this is 1%, and as someone else stated, first 1%…then another…then another. When does it stop and let it be known that it’s not alright to do this to those that swore to “protect and defend the constitution of the United States”?

    The military is being treated like the tax on tobacco and alcohol…every time the congress needs money, they raise the tax on both. They need to save money, they go after the military.

    If they need money THIS bad, let them cut the monetary stipends that they give to foreign governments? Is it easier to tell us veterans that our compensation is getting cut, rather than to tell a foreign national that “we need to take care of ourselves first”?

    George Bernard Shaw wrote “Take care to get what you like, or you will be forced to like what you get”.

  • cpt dan

    The government does not understand human terrain. It will cost our nation in the long run…

  • Atomic Geek

    I’m sure all of us were taught to not bring our bosses just a problem — you need to bring a solution. So here is mine:
    Mortgage interest deductions for those earning over $200K/yr cost $20B+/yr, and these folks do NOT need the incentive to buy rather than rent. Replace military COLA cuts with mortgage interest deduction cuts for high income folks.

    The mortgage interest deduction is there to incentivize home ownership, and costs about $70B/year. HOWEVER, 2/3 (~$46B/yr) goes to those earning over $100K, and 1/3 (~$23B/yr) goes to those earning over $200K. These folks do NOT need to be incentivized to buy rather than rent. Meanwhile, those earning $30K-50K/yr only get about 2.5% of interest deductions.
    Solution: Put mortgage interest deduction on a sliding scale based on income (maybe even with local pay/housing cost factor added in). This could even be used to increase payments (maybe a tax credit) to middle class homeowners. Make it save at least the $6B/yr. Maybe even fix the federal employee pay ripoff, too.

  • http://gravatar.com/salbatica salbatica

    If you want to save money, cancel the F-35 and F-22 albatross programs. Legacy pilot cultures and defense contractor nepotism will be the ruin of this country. You can build 500 UAV’s with search and destroy use and get rid of all “first alert” stealth fighters.

  • Michael

    Tony, as much as I agree with the editorial, the statement can be made for any form of voluntary employment and the employer’s promise. The slippery slope for the military began when many within our ranks turned heir backs on others in the public sector who have been seeing their already earned pensions slashed over the past four years in the name of austerity. All need to stand together against all of these encroachments, because otherwise there is little room left to argue on behalf of sparing our pensions.

  • Rick

    Great article! Thank you!

  • Mike

    So is this piece of sh!t going to cut his bennies because it is the right thing to do? Of course not. He just killed my vote for him for anything.

  • Anonymous

    Hope he doesn’t plan to run in 2016, because he will not be getting a Vote from me. How about we cut the 8 Billion we are giving to the Afghanistan Government.

  • Tak

    With the president, senate and congress hating the military, we are all in trouble.

  • Tak

    Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. They are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80 percent of his or her final salary.

  • Tak

    There are nearly 2 million retirees currently getting military pensions at an annual cost to the Defense Department of $4.5 billion. Of those, 840,000 are under 62 — and more than 80 percent of those were enlisted, as opposed to higher-paid officers.

  • Anonymous

    Tony, you are correct in everything you have said except for one thing. I believe that the effects of this will be felt in the service much quicker than 10 years from now. The Air Force is already feeling the effects of poor leadership from congress and the senior military leadership. Five years from now, the effects of these decisions will be an issue.

  • Tak

    “There’s a great deal of talk about loyalty from the bottom to the top. Loyalty from the top down is even more necessary and is much less prevalent. One of the most frequently noted characteristics of great men who have remained great is loyalty to their subordinates.”

    – General George S. Patton

    “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by this country.”

    – General George Washington, November 10, 1781

  • Anonymous

    The entire system needs a reboot. It is repugnant of the politicians to change the rules without public discourse or military and veteran population buy-in. I acknowledge that argument.

    As a combat veteran that separated before being eligible for a retirement and now being in private industry I think the military retirement system is flawed and often drives the wrong behaviors. How many times have we seen the retired on active duty lazy officer or enlisted member. Does someone who doesn’t do an arbitrary 20 years deserve nothing, can this country afford paying a pension for 50 years for someone that retired at 38. Very few folks in private practice get pensions and are struggling economically and that is the perspective they bring, not the perspective of missing birthdays, being in danger and struggling financially.

    I will always be behind the military and vets, just wanted to share perspective.

    • Atomic Geek

      Just because civilian industry lost faith with its workers in the name of the almighty quarterly profit statement and eliminated their pensions doesn’t mean that the government should lose faith with its retirees, especially those in uniform. Perhaps there should be some change to allow service members to vest earlier, but calling out the whole thing is wrong. And while there are a small number who are allowed to coast to 20, you must admit that this is very much the exception and the vast majority of retirees are hard-working middle-class folks who gave their all every day until retirement.

      • Anonymous

        Atomic,
        I think it is not just a loss of faith but more of a false promise based on wild ass guess projections. Government and private corporations can and have changed future interest or investment assumptions by a mere percentage or two and presto change future projections look good when reality creeps in we all find out the assumptions were wrong and the projections from 20 years ago were all long. I do agree the vast majority of military are hardworking, I just don’t see how we as a nation could end up paying 40 years of retirement benefits for 20 years I service.

        Defined contributions can be much better for both sides as long as they are the right level. Funding and finding that right level is the debate that we should be having. Realistic promises that need to be funded every year by Congress and no chance to the service member of having that money or pension pulled away. And it goes without saying those injured in the service of the nation should receive any and all retirement benefits and disability we can offer.

      • Atomic Geek

        Anonymous,
        We can have that discussion (and a DOD panel is doing that right now, with results due in May or so). But I disagree that pensions were based on unrealistic projections. Two problems: First, some companies/gov’ts failed to accurately project their long-term viability; when they declined, they got in pension trouble. Second, when other companies, that are making record profits and paying their executives truly outrageous sums (how can any CEO be worth 270 x company avg?), and more concerned about quarterly (or even daily) earnings/stock prices, lost sight of the idea of a “company” (where everyone is part of the team and everyone benefits from the results). They now see employees as a liability, and their pensions as an “unnecessary” expense.

  • Anonymous
  • https://www.facebook.com/john.melus.1 John Melus

    WHAT A DOUCHE

  • Tak

    Only 17% retire with 20 years, meaning 83% get out with nothing.They say they are studying how to make the retirement more fair, but they actually want to save money, fairness be damned. Perhaps they want a system where noone stays in to retire. Each change to retirement gets worse;
    they went from final pay to high 3 to redux option. Notice how each one gets worse for the retiree. The next iteration will as well.

  • http://twitter.com/Figanootz Figanootz (@Figanootz)

    Great writing as always Tony. Thanks for all you do and what what you have done.

    What really kills me is how little attention this issue gets and how much attention Phil from Duck Dynasty gets. People TALK about supporting the troops but very few TAKE ACTION for us. Right now I’m stationed in a foreign country, watch AFN and see all of these CONgressmen and the SECDEF say how much they appreciate our service, wish us Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. At the same time they reduce our retirement and then, for the USAF, tell us that 25K people must leave the service over the next 5 years. That’s 5k per year over 5 years. The 1st 5k will be gone by this time next year. [s] Merry Christmas [/s].

    It really makes me wonder what all of this is for? Has my service to this country been misplaced? Did I just waste over 25 years of my life?

    • http://www.PickYourBattles.Net Pick Your Battles

      It’s a horrible feeling wrestling with that question. My answer, if you’re serving to make good on your oath to the Constitution then you’re laboring for a worthy goal. We’re defending the America that should be – not the America that is. That’s valuable.

      We have so many problems with a lack of character in the military, the very vast majority are only in it for themselves, and so they mutter their oath to the America that should be without thinking about it.

      This breach of promise is not going to help those who serve make the tough and right decisions in accordance with their oaths, when they think of the promises broken to them by the people.

      That worries more than anything else about this whole thing.

  • Anonymous

    There are 2 things that make this utterly disgusting, You are not giving me anything, I earned the hell out of that pittance or a retirement (Not even a Retirement, a “supplemental income”, second, when I see the government wasting money on Shrimp on a treadmill, or SSI benefits to people in jail, or giving Benefits to illegal aliens (Yes I said it, ILLEGAL), I suggest there are places to start cutting that you choose to ignore, I voted for you and Romney in the last election, but I can see, that you are all the same

  • Vapor

    … and do not forget this wipes out the bonuses we all took to stay in till 20.

  • Gianni

    Great article Tony. As a 30-yr veteran and directly affected by the bill, I can really understand the impact. You really explained the problem very well and clear. It’s a shame that with so much waste (and I’ve seen a lot), our government representatives only give lips service to those who served and still do, while always “pick” on them to “resolve” budget inefficiencies they create. We military should unite to replace everyone in D.C. and push for cutting their unearned pay and benefits.

  • Anonymous

    Why balance the budget on the backs of heroes? What about the 1.5% of Americans who already own most of the wealth?

    • http://www.PickYourBattles.Net Pick Your Battles

      It’s not an effective argument to replace theft from some, with theft of others. The issue is a moral one, and it’s one of theft. Breaking promises, breaching contracts, and stealing are not solutions.

      • Atomic Geek

        Yes, and no. It is a matter of how to balance the budget. This can be by taxing more or spending less. The current proposal is to spend less than promised on those who make the prosperity enjoyed by the 1% possible. So it’s absolutely OK to take from those who have benefited so much from the labors of veterans to restore the promise made to veterans. The mortgage interest deduction for those earning >$200K costs the Treasury >$20B/yr. Take a third of that (from folks who do not need the incentive to buy rather than own their homes) and the retiree COLA issue is solved.

  • SN

    What’s isn’t being mentioned is food and fuel costs are no longer part of the COLA calculation (one reason why the average EBT payout has increased by 30% in the last 5 years). That 1% is actually 5% or higher every year. Vets have ahigher unemploment rate then non-vets, and that total includes retirees. Mr Ryan doesn’t feel that a 20 something welfare king/queen needs to cut back but a 38-45 year old just retired individual does. Entering the workforce as a 45 year old retiree isn’t as easy as he thinks.

  • http://www.jqpublic-blog.com Prayon Kreutz, USAF Retired

    I am a Retired Military Vet & So Absolutely DISGUSTED with our “elected leaders” on Capital Hill! These MORONS couldn’t find their way out of a wet paper bag! I can’t begin to describe the FW&A I saw in theater by these “elected leaders”!! They are ALL Self Serving Hypocrites & have absolutely NO concept of what an OATH To Office means! I am Air Force Born & Air Force Bred & when I die I will be Air Force Dead & I continue to live by Service before Self, Excellence in all I do & Integrity first! Something that our “elected leaders” know absolutely NOTHING about!! Very well written article… by a True Leader!!

  • Atomic Geek

    To everyone who is ranting on this page, please try to keep the discussion constructive and respectful. If you yell, those you’re yelling at/about will simply ignore you. You have to make your point logically and clearly, so they understand why what they’ve done is so wrong.

  • http://Getchell Chuck

    Why can’t we the people of the US change the pay structure of our elected Officials, who are doing absolutely nothing for the people of the US. Maybe I don’t understand this, but they will take money out of the pockets of our military who have earned it and line their pockets with it for doing nothing. Can someone explain this to me.

  • Anonymous

    This is exactly what has been happening in the corporate world for the past 14 years promised pensions and benefits being taken away! Welcome to the new reality of broken promises. These changes never affect the ones that make the laws (Congress), aaah, to be an above the law elitist!

  • One for all

    Anyone hear anything about a class action for those who have retired?

  • Don Shaffer

    Well written Tony. I particularly like your discussion of the clear distinction between “benefit” and “compensation”. I just wish our senior leadership were as eloquent.

    But let’s not forget Ryan’s counterpart in this scam was Democrat Patty Murray. There are many individuals we can hold accountable here. Nearly every single House Democrat and every single Senate Democrat among them. Singling out Ryan when the “budget deal” is clearly a tactical political move is a bit disengenuous. This isn’t about cutting COLAs or benefits or compensation reform. It’s about and always has been about getting the budget debate off the docket so it doesn’t become a distract ice side show. This is, was and always will be about the 2014 mid-term congressional elections and the ever increasing likelihood the Republicans will take the Senate.

    Every one who voted for it should be called to account. But in the end everyone inside the beltway knows the cut in military retiree COLA won’t stand. There’s already a move afoot to amend the compromise to change that specific element. Many who voted to pass the bill were not aware of the provision. The Service Chiefs weren’t even aware it was part of the deal until after the fact. I know that first hand.

    Should we hold Paul Ryan to task? Sure. Right after the unanimous House and Senate Dems who are celebrating their successful intransigence on not cutting welfare payments to illegal aliens. And of course Harry Reid – who hasn’t passed a budget in six years. We are still on GWB’s baseline budget “continuing resolution” by the way – so maybe this really is all Bush’s fault.

    • http://www.PickYourBattles.Net Pick Your Battles

      R and D does not matter. That nonsense is child’s play. There is only one party, and we’re not in it.

      • http://twitter.com/Figanootz Figanootz (@Figanootz)

        True.

  • Brian

    I believe you are mistaken, sir. The proposed amendment linked above establishes an effective cap of 1% per year and clarifies the readjustment at age 62. No reversal that I could see.

    I believe Ryan, and the Republican Party in general, made a tactical mistake that will have repercussions in 2014. I believe (cynically) that this issue is being studied by hundreds of people on staffs for both parties (at cost provided for in this bill by the way) in order to spin it to best benefit the party. Ryan was a face the Republican Party was continuing to try to get to the public and someone the party has wanted to use. He made a mistake and should have known better in my opinion. I am active duty military with 15 years of service and I am holding out hope that a budget can be agreed upon in the next year that will restore my trust and faith in my employer. These provisions do not take effect until 2015. Fingers crossed, but based on their track record, Congress is still a long way from a budget that they can agree on.

  • Active duty

    Really if they want to reduce the budget then why don’t they start with their own pay and funds. When was the last time they stood in harms way or stood the watch!! Why don’t they take away their retirement for single tremors!! Thats a bunch of bull, we have to serve 20 years enduring whatever conflict they want us to go into, while they sit in the comfort of their homes! So lets take away what they think they deserve!!
    Active duty with 21 years!

  • Steve

    Hope Mr. Ryan can find a job outside of politics. In my opinion he has persuaded me to vote for newcomers only! Reelection is now a term for the history books!

  • Anonymous

    Despite all the focus on today’s problems, we that served whether for a hitch or a career should not be surprised at the actions taken by the government in this case. It is now and always has been soldiers and dogs keep off the grass. I do not say this to be sour. Just recognizing reality.
    I served proudly from 1969 to 1994 and would do so again. It saddens me to see this happening. But it doesn’t surprise me.

  • Anonymous

    There is not one, and never has been one, illegal alien who receives welfare payments. Yes, in most states they will get free public education, but that is the extent of their “benefits.”

    All should be providing a proportional share of the sacrifice for reducing the deficit. Rich Americans got an unwarranted tax cut all while we were fighting an unfunded and unneccesary war. Restoring the tax rates to where they were should be the first step. As Tony said, the rich benefit the most from the freedoms we provide them — their share of the burden should reflect that. To this point, I haven’t seen anyone beyond Federal government employees and military members be asked to make a proportional sacrifice.

  • Pingback: The COLA Penalty, looks like it'll become law. - Page 2()

  • http://twitter.com/Figanootz Figanootz (@Figanootz)

    ^ So, what is your fair share contribution?

  • Tak

    Of course you can trust the government.
    Said no Native American, ever.

  • https://www.facebook.com/cyendrey Clayton Yendrey

    The pension cuts were not necessary and are an obvious appeasement to the Democrats. The whole deal stinks. In reference to military cuts, never has the ratio of shooters to “overhead” been worse. Yet all the pentagon can do is cut readiness to protect its in house special interests. Cut the pentagon, and all government agency staffs by 50%, staff budgets by60%, and then we’ll see what is really needed vs some bureaucrats boondoggle.

  • Martha Helen lovell

    Paul I would have voted for you had you run for president .,but you changed my mind.Of all things to cut military retirements.why haven’t you guys kicked Obama A–.out he has wasted more money giving to all these Muslim countries,welfare,illegals taking vacations and God only knows what else.His purpose is to destroy America and leave us without guns to protect ourself while giving tons of guns and ammo to other countries.I know all you people aren’t stupid ,I guess none of you have the guts to do the right thing.no respect for any of you.

  • http://gravatar.com/spikeymikey1981 Mike

    I see this so often when discussions come up about the government cutting funding for something. “Not *my* program! Not the one *I* use! Cut some other funding!”

    The problem of our debt is often overstated. People see astronomical numbers and think “we’re broke!” That’s not the case. When they talk about debt, they’re talking mostly about things like bonds and securities. The government didn’t walk into the bank, ask for a $17T loan and is now having problems making the payments. China has bought a ton of T-bonds and people go “we’re in debt to China!” Well, we are. But not in the way people think we are.

    None of this is to say that the government shouldn’t do a better job of balancing their budget. The debt isn’t a serious problem, any more than your mortgage is a serious problem. The *deficit*, now that’s an issue.

    In any case, people don’t want to think rationally. It’s easier to blame someone else for your own problems. Look at the posts below. Rife with “dem der e-legal imgrants wuz takin’ all our monies. We need to kick them damn Mex-e-cans out tha country. Yee Haw!” If you think that’s the problem, well, I’d say you need to educate yourself, but I’m sure you already think you know everything.

    The fact of the matter is that primarily, we need to increase revenue. Many of the programs the USGvt runs are already severely underfunded. Further defunding is simply going to take programs that are already running poorly and push them into the ground. Spending too little on a program is kind of like taking too little medication when you’re sick; you’re not actually improving anything, you’re just wasting your time and your money.

    Increasing revenue, however, means either issuing more bonds (accruing more debt, meaning raising the debt ceiling, meaning hand-wringing from morons who don’t understand how finances work) or, better yet, raising taxes. But again, you get the issue of “not *my* taxes! Not on the money *I* earn!” You don’t want your taxes to go up. Corporations don’t want their taxes to go up, and they’re willing to spend thousands on ads convincing you that you don’t want their taxes to go up either. Or they just pay a friendly right-wing politician or “journalist” to tell you for them; that’s cheaper than advertising.

    In an ideal world, one where politicians weren’t constantly trying to get re-elected, this would be a simple matter. Taxes would go up. Refunds, exemptions and credits would be eliminated. People and companies would be held responsible for their actual tax debt, not whatever they can’t hide behind loopholes. Apple, for instance, would pay their fair share of taxes, instead of running all new patents and products through shell offices in countries with loose tax laws. The government would eliminate subsidies (and this is where your money is *really* being wasted) in place to depress the price of goods and services that everyone needs. Take farm subsidies. The government gives farmers money in return for farmers selling their products cheaper than they otherwise would have.

    Consider that for a moment. The government takes a dollar from taxes, they take a dollar from you, and then they give it to a farm to reduce the cost of the bread you buy. How about if they left you that dollar and let you pay market price for the bread? Because money is like electricity, when it travels, some is inevitably lost. There are administrative costs. And when I say farm, I don’t mean Bobby 3 miles down the road with his 20 head of dairy cows and 100 acres of corn. I mean the industrial farm complex the size of a small city with 10,000 head of dairy cattle and 10 square miles of soybeans, wheat and produce. But you don’t hear about that. None of you are upset about that. You’re upset about a reduction in pension for vets. Vets who already make good money, who already have a great retirement package. Seriously?

    Don’t get me wrong. The money was already promised, that shouldn’t be reneged on. But saying that we, as veterans, don’t already have an amazing pay scale is ludicrous. Name another job you can take where if you make it 4 years without getting fired, you get reduced rate health care for the rest of your life. Where any little thing that happens to you, on or off the job, entitles you to disability payments for the rest of your life.

    • http://twitter.com/Figanootz Figanootz (@Figanootz)

      No, Its not a revenue problem. Its a spending problem. The gov’t spends too much on stuff it has no business spending money on. It doesn’t handle money wisely and doesn’t follow any recognized business practices. Use-or-lose budgets? Spending 10x the money for items because the item must come from a company that meets a certain demographic? Buying trucks and planes and then letting them sit in a desert? Abandoning hardware in place?

      How about the biggest waste of all?
      Continuing to send our men and women to fight and die in countries that will never like us, support us or ever amount to anything? Nevermind the colossal waste of money that goes to these countries that don’t like us.

      So this isn’t so much about “don’t cut my program”. There is so much WASTE out there that is ignored and not eliminated. Take a look at Sen Coburn’s Wastebook 2013 where $30B of waste were identified. If CONgress chose to eliminate this waste they would realize that savings today and it is a far greater savings than the $6B over 10 years that the Ryan-Murray Budget Agreement delivers. So, the cuts to our retirement make ZERO sense and that is the problem. Why are they doing this when they make no sacrifices of their own? This was a test to see what they could get away with. If we just sit back and let them break contracts with us what do you think will be the outcome? (I signed a DD Form 2939 declining the Career Status Bonus and elected to stay under the High-3 retirement system).

      “Name another job you can take where if you make it 4 years without getting fired, you get reduced rate health care for the rest of your life.” Congress? It certainly isn’t the military. You do 4 years and get out and you get nothing you didn’t pay for. If you know different, show me the facts.

      “Where any little thing that happens to you, on or off the job, entitles you to disability payments for the rest of your life.”
      This contains some partial truth and many times there is fraud involved, like people claiming to have been injured in the line of duty when the injury happened on vacation. But on the whole, this is also false. I have seen many people released from the military with nothing more than a severance package and some BX and Medical benefits that expire after a set amount of time, usually 6 months.

      http://tinyurl.com/Wastebook2013

    • http://retrophoebia.wordpress.com retrophoebia

      Mike. Nice comment. Thank you.

  • http://Baseops.net Take one for the team

    Alrighty, for all of you wonderful, respectful military vets using such gracious language…canx the 1% cut and go straight to “high 5.” Honestly, we need to go to a “high 7″ or “high 9″ to save our budget for ops. The military retirement handouts are simply unsustainable and clearly affecting operations TODAY. Therefore, modifications to the pensions need to start TODAY. There’s no time for grandfathering. If you’re disabled, seek further compensation through the VA. If not, go to work immediately. If you’re 37-50+ and not working, you’re wasting your God-given talents, and our society deserves to reap additional reward from those talents that “we the people” paid our tax dollars to cultivate while you were in the military. You owe it to the taxpayer to continue to contribute, if able. Period.

    • Atomic Geek

      And this type of reaction from TYFTT is exactly why I asked everyone to keep a constructive tone. And TYFTT, there is zero connection between retirement spending and operations, as long as the Congress decides to fund ALL of its obligations. Your tone is not very helpful, either, BTW.

    • badass

      Sir, you are truly a dumbass and have no business weighing in on this issue. Good day

    • Tony Carr

      You are a troll, and not a very good one either. Despite earnest temptation to the contrary, I am not going to feed you and discourage others from wasting time responding to your idiotic BS comments. If you actually believe even 10% of what you just posted, please stay on your own planet and leave the real world alone.

  • Dennis J Psoras

    Presidential safari to homeland in Kenya cost over 100 million dollars and this is only one portion of the string of vacations costing the taxpayer millions . Abuse of public trust begins at the White House and runs rampant in congress . Want to save America , want to administer the public funds faithfully rather than steal them and squander them , want to close down congressman’s personal airport and abusive pension plans and perks , etc .?
    Na , just cut the soldier boy’s pay — after all he has only risked his life , lost a limb , left a piece of his heart , soul and sanity on the battle field , deprived his family of his companionship , fought boredom , battle and disease , even got spat on by the cowards who never served .
    We don’t have to cut corners , just take control of the peoples ‘ check book . Introduce a new concept to congress — ACCOUNTABILITY .
    May God bless our service men and women because there will be no thanks or blessings from the halls of government .
    Dennis J Psoras , Vet .

    • W.E.Brough

      FYI: This or was President Obama’s first trip to Africa.(not counting a brief stop-over in Ghana) Our former president G.W.B.,took 2 trips,his wife took 7 altogether.When Clinton took a trip there during his presidency,the cost of his was 42 million,that was back in 98.We don’t know the cost of Bush’s little dancing fiasco and safari,seems as though the G.A.O.cannot find this out for some reason.oh,and Obama did not go on a safari.you are thinking of G.W.Obama canceled his.As for vacations,G.W. still holds that record.
      Do I think it is right to cut vets bennies? hell no.I think all combat vets should even get a increase.I do believe a lot of people on here are confusing the dems with the repubs.see,it is the repubs that are always going after the people that have little or no political way to fight back.now,it’s your turn in the barrel.They already raped the most helpless in our country,now they are moving up the ladder a little more,then a little more,then a little more….until there good buddies like the kock bros.have absolute control over everything,they are damn close now.Don’t be surprised when handling rattle-snakes,they will always turn and bite you,so,in short,don’t vote against your interests,stop voting for the repubs.
      As for he “wants our guns” crowd,gun laws under Obama have never been more open.That’s a fact. tax’s are also at one of the lowest points in our history under him too.just another fact.Oh.and one more for you,under Obama,real spending by the gov.has decreased in the first time in over 50 years.The size of gov.has been sharply reduced,something like 260,000 less government jobs.he has cut more out of gov.than ronnie raygun and bush sr and jr.combined.infact,those three increase the number of gov.employees.damn facts,soooo annoying.People really need to turn off pox news and rush limburg,glenn beck and all those fat-ass’s.check things out for yourself.

      • Reggae

        What is the name of your planet W. E.?

      • http://twitter.com/Figanootz Figanootz (@Figanootz)

        I love it! His only reason for posting was to tell us Republicans are bad and Democrats are good and then assumes we only watch Fox news and listen to conservative talk radio. He quotes “facts” with nothing to back up what he says. I think that what we have here is a group of people from a Progressive forum that found Tony’s blog and can’t handle the truth or people that can see and think for themselves
        .
        This isn’t about Rs and Ds. Both side have been infiltrated by Progressives that are hell bent on destroying everything that made this country great. But it goes beyond all of that, it goes beyond labels. Its about about what is right and what is wrong. This country was founded by some very bright and brave men who gave us the tools to have and maintain a great country. Over the past 100 years the people have become complacent and were content to allow the gov’t to run on auto-pilot. Now we have seen that we are heading toward the side of a mountain, we are awakening and will take back control.
        Evil prevails when good men do nothing. Well, the good men are idle no more.

        • Tony Carr

          I reject the idea that what we’re seeing is an extension of progressive politics. If anything, the political left has been disproportionately responsible over the years for making sure veterans don’t get left behind. However, I also reject that this is an extension of conservative politics. Paul Ryan is not a conservative, even if he says he is. When it comes to spending that is politically expedient, he’s a fiscal liberal, or even a fiscal radical. He voted to spend $6T on two wars, after all. I picked on Ryan because he was the ringleader and defended his decision in a nationally syndicated newspaper with words and ideas that screamed to be challenged.

          But we needn’t let this pull us into partisan fisticuffs. It’s bigger than that, and I want everyone from all walks of politics to feel free and encouraged to be involved in combating it. This is both sides of the aisle conspiring to victimize a constituency whose loyalty is less important to their electoral prospects than other lobbies. As I said on Fox, this wasn’t a “mistake” . . . this was a political trial balloon, and if Congress shows it can de-fund vested warrior pensions while people are still dying in combat, no promise made to anyone for anything will be safe from here on out. That’s where we need to concentrate.

  • https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/veto-ryanmurray-budget-proposal-cuts-retired-military-pension-cola-1-below-inflation-rate/l4RctYlH IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE…

    //ACTION REQUIRED//
    Veto the Ryan/Murray budget proposal that cuts retired military pension COLA to 1% below the inflation rate.

    ” The Ryan/Murray budget deal cuts the military retirement pension COLA to 1% below the inflation rate. This is an inexuseable breach of contract with the military men and women who have served this country valiantly in two wars. The very idea that Congress seeks to cut military retirement pay by up to 24% while our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan is beyond contemptible. Military retirees have risked their lives, sacrificed normal family life, and given their prime earning years to defend this nation. One of the primary motivators for military members to spend an entire career in the military is the promise of a retirement benefit that cannot be made worthless by inflation. The Ryan/Murray proposal breaks that promise. ”

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/veto-ryanmurray-budget-proposal-cuts-retired-military-pension-cola-1-below-inflation-rate/l4RctYlH

  • http://www.capwiz.com/hqafsa/issues/alert/?alertid=63034881&PROCESS=Take+Action …HE’S GOING TO ASK FOR A GLASS OF MILK

    //ACTION REQUIRED//
    Repeal the COLA Cut!

    ” The bipartisan budget deal approved by Congress and the Administration unfairly taxes current and future military retirees. Specifically, the Budget Act of 2013:

    Inflicts a 1% annual reduction to uniformed service retired pay Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to the pensions of retirees until they reach age 62, after which the cumulative COLAs are then restored. Example: If the COLA increase in a given year is 1.5%, retirees would only receive a 0.5% increase in retired pay – if the COLA is less than one percent, the retiree would receive no increase at all.
    Targets all current and future retirees (no “grandfather clause”). Contrary to earlier reports, the agreement applies this egregious penalty on the retirements of wounded warriors and the medically retired
    Costs the average Master Sergeant who retires after twenty years of service (who earns approximately $23,000 per year in retired income) a cumulative total of $83,000—an average loss in income of $3,700 per year
    Reduces retiree pay by nearly 20% by age 62—the approximate equivalent of completely forfeiting 3½ years-worth of the pensions they are morally entitled to

    Facing intense pressure in recent days, many in Congress now pledge to fix this issue when Congress returns in January. While some look to mitigate its impact on the medically retired, others promise to eliminate the tax on all retirees.

    The Air Force Sergeants Association intends to hold them to that promise and will be working with our coalition partners to keep this issue on their front doorstep.

    That said, we need your help to keep the issue on the burner over the holidays. To do that we ask you send the message to your members in Congress. “

  • http://www.capwiz.com/hqafsa/issues/alert/?alertid=63034881&PROCESS=Take+Action …And chances are if he asks you for a glass of milk, he’s going to want another cookie to go with it.
  • http://reflectionsofarationalrepublican.wordpress.com Sean Patrick Hazlett

    Excellent article, Tony. Someone should ask Ryan why Congress isn’t also having its retirement income impacted.

    The man is a hypocrite, and I hope veterans punish him for this by doing whatever they can to impede his political career.

    I, as a Republican, am shocked that he is a member of the party. I expect this kind of thing from Democrats, but from Republicans, it is anathema.

    • Tony Carr

      I agree with your sentiment, even if I stop short of agree with your closing statement. I don’t expect this, or accept it, from anyone.

  • Atomic Geek

    Sean,
    This is what a fiscal conservative, business-oriented Republican does: try to make the government more like private industry, which has steadily moved toward sacrificing the pension (or severely underfunded them essentially out of existence) on the altar of the almighty stock price and quarterly profit statement. You should not be that surprised.

  • TC

    All those folks with “I Support our Troops” stickers on their cars need to step up, write their congressman/woman, and demand that this hypocrisy be fixed.

  • MikeQ

    Vote him out and all his buddies too.

  • Anonymous

    How about for every dollar you take from us veteran’s congress take a dollar from young welfare recipients who have never worked a day in their entire young life. Congress. Could afford to give up some of their retirement pay too. And I agree vote him and all the rest of them out of office.

  • Andrea Abbott

    Perhaps we could extend this conversation into a discussion about what all workers, including government workers with pensions that are now being reduced, are owed for years of service. Perhaps we could further think about the ever widening gap in both income and access to power that is currently occurring in a country that has ceased to be by the people or for the people. For once, perhaps, we could unite instead of fighting each other over the crumbs from the rich folks tables.

  • http://badboyscientist.com The Bad Boy Scientist

    I agree with Andrea Abbott. Lets stop in-fighting. There are two groups of Americans. One is very tiny, holds most of the wealth and is united whereas the has 99% of Americans, holds less than half of the wealth but is fragmented.

    The reason that tiny group gets its way is because the rest of us keep fighting each other.

    I personally find it beyond outrageous that to ask a Mother to send her son or daughter to fight a war is ‘patriotic’ and to ask teachers & fire-fighters to lose some of their benefits is ‘sharing the burden’ but to ask a billionaire to pay the same tax-rate as his secretary is ‘marxist’. (BTW: Reagan was outraged by that, too)

    I dunno what you call the opposite of Noblesse Oblige but that’s what we have in America.

    • Tony Carr

      Your last point is critical. War is not free. In the past, we’ve funded it by asking more of the electorate that voted in support of it. This time, not only did we sidestep Noblesse Oblige, we didn’t even raise taxes (instead, we lowered them — how dumb is that!). The money has to come from somewhere. Ever notice how the national debt equates to roughly the level of unbudgeted war spending we’ve undertaken since the end of WWII? Hmmmm.

  • Anonymous

    A military pension is not a “hand out”! EVERY penny of it was earned by hard work and great sacrifice! I know a great way to cut costs. Make Congress work for the same pay as our service men and women! You could save enough money to pay off the national debt in no time! Stop trying to screw the retired military out of a justly earned and contractualy obligated retirement. If we are going to cut anyone’s pension, how about cutting Congresses’s!
    One Pissed off Veteran

  • Bobby T

    Vets crying about this after voting for Ryan are naive. Hopefully this wakes some people up. These tea baggers don’t represent you.

    • Tony Carr

      I have no allegiance to the tea party, but I have to take issue with the BS way you choose to make your point. Vets aren’t “crying.” Generally, we make other people cry. This is about taking a principled stand, and I would be involved regardless of partisan politics.

      • http://retrophoebia.wordpress.com retrophoebia

        Just curious — Is there any reduction of veteran benefits in any area that you would advocate, Tony? Or is the answer always “more”?

        • Tony Carr

          I’ve written elsewhere that health care premiums should be adjusted and means-tested. I’ve also said that the pension system should be deliberately reviewed and changes implemented consistent with our national appetite for defense services going forward.

          Nice try, but I’m not the guy saying “don’t touch” . . . what I am saying is “don’t touch what was already promised” . . . and “be careful when you touch, because you might do more harm than good.”

          Just curious, though. Do you think a vested pension is really a “benefit?” In my view and according to public law, it’s earned compensation. Your comment implies you see it as a beneficial grant.

          • http://retrophoebia.wordpress.com retrophoebia

            A vested pension is, if I recall correctly, a contractually defined and obligated transfer of an interest in assets being the funds set aside for retirement pays, (aren’t you a lawyer? fix me if so), so – assuming that the retirement package was properly defined on day 1 ( and I’m not so sure it was — I don’t seem to recall anything in my Academy paperwork about exact retirement terms) it would make sense legally and morally not to change what’s already been committed.

            Except that military pensions don’t technically vest — you either qualify for retirement or you don’t based on time in service (see also the 15-year retirements in the 90s for more changes). Then plan eligibility kicks in. And the plans are determined by congress. Crummy system? Well, yes, but without matching actual assets in play, you can’t have vesting. But what you can have is budget shenanigans, as we see here, and in the 3 primary outstanding retirement, systems (redux, high-3, final pay), which have multiple different types of COLA computation already. Again, if I recall correctly, I don’t have the reg at hand.

            And that goes both ways. Congress has repeatedly modified military retirement. Would there be the outcry about changing the terms if there was an increase in COLA or other beneficial change? I really don’t think so. What congress giveth, congress can also taketh away, as we’re seeing here. My question – which you just answered — was mainly aimed at whether there were any reductions in benefits that you’d be explicitly for reducing. But interesting and valid point raising the contractual obligation issue. If there’s actual outstanding contractual documentation that you or anyone else signed spelling out the retirement benefits, please post — may be worth suing DFAS over or something.

        • Tony Carr

          I hasten to add that, as written elsewhere, I’d like to see LESS money spent on defense. Much less. But the way to reduce spending is not to violate promises made to those who already did their duty. As an aside, this budget actually INCREASES defense spending while reducing compensation. So . . . it seems Congress are the ones answering “more” — except when it comes to paying the rank and file who do the hard fighting.

          • http://retrophoebia.wordpress.com retrophoebia

            Unfortunately, promises are worth the paper they’re written on, and sometimes less if you’re left holding the bag for what someone else promised.

  • Reggae

    What is the name of your planet?

  • Geri Z

    Having read all of these threads, it absolutely amazes me how many of them have confused the republican agenda with that of the democrats. Please people, stop listening to Fox News! Research the congressional record. See how each party voted on bills that affected your lives directly. Republicans are tools for the Koch brothers and the top 10% of the corporations that run this country through the manipulation of the gullible 90%. The Republican Party does not care about the average working person, the military or the disabled. They care only about perpetuating the power of the wealthy. If they can keep getting the average person to vote against their own interests, there is no hope for a free democratic society.

    • Tony Carr

      I’m not going to sign on to your entire post (though I find much to agree with) because I don’t want partisan squabbling to obscure the point that this budget was bipartisan and is a cross-aisle betrayal. But I will stipulate, as I’ve said elsewhere before, that it amazes me military folks vote overwhelmingly republican when republicans are no more interested in protecting their interests than democrats. Since 9/11/01, republicans have shown some of the most reckless political behavior in our nation’s history when it comes to national defense. But . . . and this is a difficult but key truth . . . democrats overwhelmingly supported this betrayal and the president signed the bill without even acknowledging he was breaking a promise he personally made as recently as September of this year. Plenty of blame to go around, to include that we owe the silent generals and admirals who don’t even openly ascribe to a party.

  • http://twitter.com/Figanootz Figanootz (@Figanootz)

    Apparently Geri Z and Bobby T are from the same planet. They get their talking points from the same place and are incapable of analytically thought.

  • http://twitter.com/Figanootz Figanootz (@Figanootz)

    On 23 Dec, the President and First Lady give a special holiday message to service men and women and their families. At 0:45 The President says,

    “That is why as President I will continue to do everything in my power to uphold our country’s most sacred obligation. To honor and support you and your families in a way that is worthy of your strength and your sacrifice.”

    On 26 Dec he signs the Bipartisan Budget Agreement that cuts Veterans military retirement by adjusting retiree Cost-of-Living Adjustments at a rate 1% below the Consumer Price Index. That amounts to reducing vested veteran pensions by an average of $84,000 to $120,000.

    Actions have and always will speak louder than words.

    • http://twitter.com/eduardom Eduardo Martinez (@eduardom)

      My Republican congressman sent a link to this site explaining that the reductions he and the House approved are only for working age 20-year retirees not all veterans. http://bipartisanpolicy.org/news/press-releases/2013/12/statement-four-senior-military-leaders-bipartisan-budget-act

      • Tony Carr

        No question of the factual accuracy of what your representative is saying. It’s true that the cut only applies to cost of living adjustments prior to age 62. But this is an attempt to hide a moral violation and huge economic setback behind the language of mitigation. By applying a 1% cut every year for as many as 24 years of pension payments, this provision reduces the value of those pensions by an average of $84k-$124k, depending on rank and years of service. That not only represents a large portion of what most of the impacted population would have been able to save during that period (inhibiting financial independence they planned on having when they made earlier decisions about follow-on careers), it continues to impact them past the age of 62 since they’ll have saved less and taken on more debt during their working years. And notably, this assumes Ryan or someone like him doesn’t come along and break this new agreement by declaring “working age” to be 65 or 70, or by suggesting that the cut should be 2% a year. If they’re allowed to break one covenant, all others become meaningless. But we’re talking economics when this is really about morals. The government made promises and needs to keep them, regardless of the economic advantage of “efficiently breaching” them.

      • http://www.PickYourBattles.Net Pick Your Battles

        Important point, thanks for making it Tony. This is not an economics issue, but rather a moral issue. And the law passed fails on both.

        Imagine a manager hired to run a Quickie Stop convenience store. Part of the contract from the owners to the manager, includes a ten thousand dollar a month payment for the manager to buy food and items to stock the store, hire clerks, etc. Now imagine the manager makes contracts with various vendors who supply him with soda and moon pies and other items. Through some creative contracts, those vendors start getting rich, and they have enough money to call the owners and tell them what a great manager they hired.

        But then the reality sets in, as the store goes deeper into the red, that the manager has been making poor decisions. Rat infested candy bars never make it to the shelves and rot in the storage room, the shelves start going bare and people start buying less as modern day customers don’t enjoy old packs of Big League Chew and the gas pumps are closed every other day due to mismanagement.

        The manager springs into action, says sacrifices must be made. So instead of no longer purchasing a few items, making decisions on what is a profit maker and what isn’t, and re-negotiating the idiotic contract to be supplied with candy bars without concern for date of expiration, this heroic manager instead chooses to ask the owners for more money while at the same time refusing to pay the clerk for a month of work, after that clerk made good on his side of the bargain.

        Now is this manager just a horrible manager, incompetent? He might be, but what is more clear is that he is a thief. He is dishonest. And the owners would be smart to fire him due to his lack of morality, more than his potential incompetence. Thieves that are competent can get away with a lot when they hide under the guide of incompetence.

        Get rid of that manager before he burns down the entire store, and walks out the back with piles of cash.

      • http://www.PickYourBattles.Net Pick Your Battles

        Oh, and pay the clerk who you owe him. For the love of God, that shouldn’t be a point of discussion in this once moral country. Pay him what you owe him!

    • Tony Carr

      I cannot tell you how much it disappoints me that the president either took no interest in this provision at all or blithely endorsed pursuit of it. Either way, he signed it without even acknowledging what he was doing to veterans.

  • Anonymous

    Eduardo – we realize this – the point is – what difference does that make? We served for 20-30 years, your day is usually 12 hours or more, weekends, holidays, life events, – we work them. separations from your family for any where from 6 months to 2 years for deployments or Unaccompanied tours where your family isn’t authorized because of the danger. No time and a half for extra hours, all with the promise that if we did this, and accepted the REDUCED pay we would receive our retirement with a COLA. Do you know what THEY receive for retirement compensation? a 4 year representative gets more than I do after only working 4 years and is taking NO cut in their retirement. I worked 23 years. Ask your representative about that.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, they (politicians) took back $1.14 Billion a year from the military and retirees. $600M a year from military retirees and $540M from active duty. Both sides took a cut. Active duty military was supposed to receive a 1.8% pay raise in accordance with the law and the Consumer Price Index. Instead, Active Duty received a 1.0% pay raise for a savings of $540M per year and forever. Now, the retirees–past, present, and future–are taking a 1.0% COLA reduction. All military members are required to make a decision at the 15 year mark. The two choices are the Career Status Bonus (CSB) and the High Three retirement plans. Both of the retirement plans where designed to shave money off of military retirees. Most of the people posting to this thread likely do not know that. The Final Pay retirement plan was replaced with the CSB and the High Three. Final Pay was 50% of the base pay at 20 years. High Three is 50% of the average of the last three years of pay at 20 years, and CSB is $30,000 “bonus” taxed at 28% that is actually a loan for the rest of a person’s life, and then 40% of the average of the last three years of pay at 20 years minus 1% COLA per year until a one time chatch up at age 62. There is more to this discussion than just a 1% reduction in military retiree COLA. By the way, politicians are mostly responsible for inflation in the first place. Otherwise, we would not need COLA if the cost of almost everything was not skyrocketing. If you have time, please look up Chuck Wooten’s (Chief Master Sergeant, USAF Ret) letter to Paul Ryan.

  • Anonymous

    To Congressman Paul Ryan
    Today at 8:19 AM
    Congressman Ryan,
    Please note that this request by you for a cash donation from me is extremely unfortunate and very ill-timed. You see sir, I am one of the military retirees your “bipartisan” budget just impacted. You and every Republican (both in the House and Senate that voted to pass this travesty betrayed and broke trust with me and everyone like me. You may not know us by name, but we’re the people, Congressman, who answered our Nation’s call, some of us at a very early age to willingly serve YOU and others LIKE YOU so you could safely attend college and pursue your personal ambitions without fear of harm.
    You might also want to note that for at least 20 years, my brothers-in-arms answered that call of duty EVERY SINGLE DAY, without fail, without complaint, without enough money to sustain our loved ones we had to leave behind while we DID OUR JOB in every corner of the Earth. And for that service, we were given absolute assurance our so-called retirement benefits would be protected by law. The very law you shattered in your zeal to impress your Democratic cohorts in your back room deal–with the enemy. Yes, I said it. The liberal Democrats are an enemy to the American people and our Nation. Your lack of judgment and eagerness to compromise on the backs of us who protected you is sickening. Congressman, you and every Republican that voted for injuring military retirees have engaged in a complicit, sordid affair with the Democrats who’s objective has always been to dismantle the military. By climbing into their bed on this issue, you have confirmed you are absolutely no better than they and have proven it with your vote.
    Congressman Ryan, the audacity which you display is noteworthy, but to unceremoniously snatch earned money from a small group that has added so much more value than the paltry $6B you looked to “save” (which is all smoke and mirrors and you know it), is reprehensible and insulting.
    We have, despite the hardships, meager salaries and harsh conditions, have performed with honor and excellence…in silence, which is something most members of Congress have no idea about doing. Our job approval was, is and always be better than yours. We knew our mission and we got it done, then handed it off to a new generation in better shape than we found it.
    Your ability to look us in the eye, take money from us (apparently there was ZERO, other source of waste within the federal government that you could have recovered this money from…right, got it), while simultaneously holding your hand out to beg (with passion) for our cash is stunning. Your actions have proven you do not have the tremendous intellect you’ve sold the American people on. I say, with all seriousness, Congressman, what you lack in intellect and spinal rigidity, you make up for in cajones.
    I hope you and your cowardly, Republican “colleagues” hear a message from me loud and clear. You will NEVER receive another cent of financial support from me. Further, if you happen to be at a Capitol Hill dinner or at a K Street cocktail party with RNC Chair Reince Priebus, Rep. Ron Barber, Sen. Jeff Flake or Sen. John McCain, I would be honored if you communicate with them that I am launching an effort to ensure NONE of you traitorous “representatives of the people” ever receive another vote from a military retiree. Remove me from your contact lists.
    Chuck Wooten,
    Chief Master Sergeant, USAF (Ret)

  • Michael

    This in fighting has to stop amongst us active duty and veterans. Bottom line is this. We are all going to get screwed unless it gets fixed. I’m glad this is out in the open so every one can see what has been denied for so long. Republicans are the ring leaders in this debacle, however lets look at the overall picture. EVERYONE that is the political arena has a very handsome salary, as well as medical, and retirement benefits during their tenure as well when they leave. Just about everyone is already a millionaire on both sides. The reason this is happening is because the struggles and sacrifice us military to through or have been through doesn’t affect them. Very few former military are in politics and even they are rich as all get out. Until one of these politicians kids be made to go to war, do convoys in afghan land or Iraq with the possibility of not coming home intact or at all will they get a glimpse of what we went or go through. It’s easy to say take from vets because so few of them are vets and don’t know the sacrifice we gave and continue to give. They retire, full pension and benefits. If a vet is lucky enough to live to retirement, pension is half. I have been in since the age of 17. I did 26 years in military, 3 Iraq tours with 27 months being in combat. I earned my pension and whatever disability compensation for health issues that I incurred serving my country. And so does my fellow active duty and retiree brethren. I missed out on so much as all military do and did. This lifestyle not everyone can partake in or do.if Paul Ryan had to be deployed and missed out on what we had to, he would be singing a different tune. This latest debacle should open everyone’s eyes as to who to vote for in the upcoming primaries and elections. Don’t listen to the lip service anymore. Politicians send us to wars and we perform admirably just to come back broken, if we come back at all, to broken promises. When GWB and his crew were doing their dirt, no one cried foul, now these republicans true colors are shining through, they are even screwing over veterans that voted for them. And some democrats are to blame as well. If they would sacrifice for what they give lip service for as we have, they would stop propping up corrupt Afghanistan and stop sending aid to all these countries that don’t like us. Why isn’t john McCain raising hell over this issue? He is rich as hell too! I bet no politician would be willing to sacrifice their pensions like we may be forced to do. Let’s stop fighting amongst ourselves and show these politicians democrats or republicans, white, black, or other. You screw with the military, that has done everything this nation has asked and more, they will have a short political career.

  • http://bloggingpioneer.wordpress.com bloggingpioneer

    Just wanted to tell the author great job. I found this piece to be very well written and I hope you write more as this situation unfolds. As a veteran and military spouse, I have grave concerns about what is happening. It pains me deeply to see how Washington has devalued our nation’s military. Please keep writing about this topic!

  • https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.lockhart.75 Cheryl Lockhart-Hall

    Thank you Sir, well written. I confess, I am concerned for myself and my brothers and sisters in arms….I feel that I acted in good-faith, soldiered up, went on every mission, deployed whenever asked…gave up a lot of intangible things….and now I am concerned that I will be asked to give up what was promised to me. We (the military) are not accustomed to pushing back. Our response has always been that we will do whatever our Country asks of us. Somehow we believe that our Country will treat us with the same honor and solemn commitment with which we have carried out the duties entrusted to us. I almost cannot fathom why they would chose to ask this of us… We are lost I think….

  • Anonymous

    Pisses me the fu<k off! I'm a red blooded and very angry Republican! This RYAN ass wipe really burns me!!!

  • mo

    you will pay just wait and see paul rayn. hide your most prized posssensions.

  • Mike

    Well said. Very similar, in essence, to the short note I sent to my senators and congressman. There seemed to be some traction in the Senate for reversal earlier this year, but not so much now. We have two years before the COLA reduction takes place. I hope you will keep noticing. I hope we all do. I will.