Home » Military and veterans’ affairs » Congress to cut military retiree benefits

Congress to cut military retiree benefits

Congress picContext, understanding the problems in this nation (hell, the world for that matter) often seems to come down to context.

Recently, the Republican-run House of Representatives approved a bill that would cut into pensions for many military retirees, primarily a one percent cut to their annual cost-of-living increases. These budget cuts are expected to pass the Democratically-controlled Senate this week, according to every news outlet out there. I’m inclined to believe them too, considering I could only find one Democrat speaking against this bill and he saved his ass by adding “. . . but I make no promises.”

So, what’s the deal here? Is this really that big of an issue? It’s just one percent and only to uninjured vets after all, right? Is this more of an issue of morals rather than a financial one?

Or are the individuals speaking out against this bill fully justified in their complaints?

Damn right they are.

This is both a financial matter and one of morals as well. Now, morals vary from person to person, but most of us are on fairly equal grounds when it comes to thoughts on money. The more the government takes from your paychecks or benefits, the less you receive. Simple.

So what’s the financial problem here with a one percent cut to military retirees’ benefits? (Oh, and newly hired civilian federal workers will contribute an additional 1.3 percent of their pay to the government under this bill as well. That impacts everyone from postal workers to BLM firefighters). The average retired enlisted individual after 20 years of service will see about $3,700 a year reduction in their benefits when factoring in compound interest lost over a 20-year period; retired officers, higher-ranking enlisted and individuals who served 20+ years will see a higher cut.

To try and put this into context, military retirees will lose one percent to their cost of living benefits over a 20-year period, which will add up to a 20 percent loss overall, coming to about an overage of $80,000 over that time period. Think of it as reverse inflation, but unlike inflation (which right now averages to an increase of a little over 1 percent a year, according to the government inflation calculator), it’s money being gradually taken away over a period of years, while cost of living continues to increase for these individuals and all other Americans.

Now, I think it’s safe to assume that $3,700 a year would make a difference to most people reading this, veteran or not.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2007-2011 average individual income was nearly $28,000. Even if you adjusted the rate of loss to income to reflect that and rounded it to, let’s say a $2,000 loss in income annually, it’d still make a difference to the average worker – which most of the people I now know are not even close to the level of the average worker.

Personally, I live in a low-income area and despite working fulltime, I don’t even make half of what the average U.S. worker does. Many people fill these same shoes, veterans and civilians alike.

So, why cut the pay of the select few of this nation who not only chose to serve, but also chose to make it a career? These are individuals who have chosen to remain in a field where – since only 2001 – the total number of their brothers and sisters wounded in action is over 50,400 and the number killed is 6,630 – as of January 13, 2013. (Information provided by Wounded Warriors in Action).

I can’t think of a single other profession that faces those types of high causality rates and injuries. Not to mention those injured outside of combat, those suffering from PTSD, a field of work where someone commits suicide every 65 minutes and much, much more.

Congress is taking pay away from our nation’s greatest – not only military, but the retirees. Individuals who have sustained numerous hardships (along with their families who serve alongside them) over a 20 to 30 year period just to have what was contractually promised to them cut by the very people who boast about their unending support of the military every time an election rolls around.

And to what end?

According to the Congressional Budget Office, it’s to save about $6 billion over a 20 year period. Sounds like a lot, but when you consider that the partial government shutdown this year cost tax payers $24 billion in just 16 days (according to Standard and Poor), it’s – pardon my French – a bunch of bullshit. This is nothing more than the powers that be securing their own future pensions and pay under the guise of “having their backs to the wall.”

When will this end? At this point, I can’t help but think the government is intentionally trying to piss off the American people, or they just no longer care enough to even pretend to give a shit.

I look at these issues hitting our military, veterans, along with the middle and lower classes of this nation, and can’t help but think of a snowball rolling down a long, steep hill. The government is in an increasingly volatile state due to decades of poor decisions and selfish actions; and now they’re chipping away slowly from the incomes and benefits of the working class who makes their increasing pensions and pay happen in the first place.

It starts off as only a percent here, a small demographic affected there and next thing you know that snowball is rolling down the hill, growing bigger and bigger – taking more and more little flakes of snow from the earth as it rolls. Soon it’s this massive ball barreling toward the bottom of the hill where it will either slow to a stop or crash into something – shattering to pieces.

In this case, and many others out there impacting the working class, the snowball is our rights, pay and benefits slowly being stripped from us as the government continues barreling out of control.

And I think it’s destined to crash.

The only thing that can prevent that at this point, I believe, would be for the people as a whole to wise up to the world around them, pay attention to what’s happening and change it through understanding and the power of knowledge.

A good place to start is speaking your mind in a constructive, informative way. The following link will allow you to find your area’s congressional representative and will provide their contact information. Write them, e-mail them and call them. Let them know that you’re not happy about this, along with EVERY other decision that’s made by them, but seems to only impact the lives of the working class.

Let them know that you’re tired of your role as a simple flake in this growing snowball of deceit, selfishness, misrepresentation and downright immoral actions of the leaders of this nation.

If enough people make their voices heard, the government will have no choices other than to listen, re-adjust those in power or be removed.

History has already shown us that, time-and-time again.

Here is the link to contact your representative.

http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

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