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View Diary: John McCain and Leon Panetta - Time to Cut Military Benefits (116 comments)

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  •  My 'troll' comment of the day... (0+ / 0-)

    The question of military benefits is worth scrutinizing in a dispassionate way.

    No one would seriously argue against providing needed medical benefits to veterans but there is a vast array of other benefits provided to military retirees.

    Our professional class of military officers, in particular, are well compensated.  

    •  What about Congressional benefits? (8+ / 0-)

      If Congress wants to cut military benefits, why doesn't it first cut its own benefits?

      Why not put Congress on a defined contribution plan (401K)?  You serve as Senator for three terms, you leave with whatever 401K money you've managed to put away.

      And same for the Executive Branch.

      If President Obama signs off on cutting military benefits, I wouldn't blame any serviceman for voting against his reelection.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

      by PatriciaVa on Tue Nov 08, 2011 at 07:09:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think I am one of the few people arguing that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PatriciaVa, wu ming, SoCalSal

        Congress keep their benefits... I believe that all government employees should have a pension plan, not a 401K. We should not be asking Congress to give up theirs but be demanding that pensions be replaced for all civilian employees as well.

        I believe that to serve in Congress, you should not have to come from a family of wealth. If we cut benefits for Congress, it would make it even more difficult for your average Joe or Jane to even consider running for office. The salary and benefits have to be enough to consider taking a break from your own career to serve the public. Otherwise, only rich people can afford to serve.

        •  Except for most, Politics is their career (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean, PatriciaVa

          It used to be a break from their careers, but not anymore. Politics is an industry , just like any other and yes there are paths to great wealth, unachievable by most.

          We have the most corrupt congress ever now. It's in-your-face corruption. I've seen it first hand. The irresistible draw of mid-six figure paychecks for staff and seven figure paychecks for ex-members-of congress all who have proven track record of doing the lobbyists bidding before they get the big checks.

          So giving them special benefits has not done us any good. In fact, I'm betting quite a number of people in congress would have difficulty finding work outside of politics.

          All they need now is a fricking Trade show.

          The very first reform that no one who is in politics will fess up to, is changing the entire political system that rewards those who are good at cash and carry govt.  The political sector is every bit as bad as the financial sector. In fact, one couldn't work without the other. That's why we see no bankers jailed for obvious crimes.

          The spending cut torture will proceed for those who can least afford it until we are all dead or people get serious about defining what change really means.

          •  I am hoping for the latter: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dburn
            or people get serious about defining what change really means.

            I get where you're coming from but I guess that I still have hope that we can have a congress of non-professional politicians, of citizens truly serving for a time in order to give back to their country. Yes, I am idealistic. But I am also serious about defining what change really means. Maybe we can somehow pull this shit together and make change happen.

            •  I come from the party of Disillusioned Cynics (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              This has been going on since the Republic started.  Jay Gould, a first class asshole Robber Baron who would have been worth 67B in today's dollars, once said (paraphrased)"I can buy the entire working class, cut them in half and pit one side against the other".  That was well over 120 years ago.

              The point which this accents  is that once one side of the working class have been stripped of their rights and  benefits, it makes it not only possible, but probable, that the other side will get stripped of theirs.

              At one time Social Security was the third rail of politics. Now it isn't. Attacking teachers? "Who would have thought..." .

              Now they are floating test balloons for the military. Hey if they can get cuts through and beat this social safety net to pieces, it then becomes probable that no one will be exempt unless they are the rulers of that particular class or the enablers. There are no sacred cows left except a Dysfunctional Health Care System, The Political Sector, Bankers and Weapons Systems.

              That's where the money is. If you want to kick the can down the road a ways, then vets will have to organize like they never have before. This is hard because again we have one side vs the other in the military too. There are plenty of people on both sides of the aisle that would cheer a benefits cut for different reasons.

              Finally, casting idealism aside for a second, you have to consider the out of sight, out of mind paradigm of the bubble in DC. Inside the bubble,  everyone gets good health care benefits. To them,there is nothing wrong with this system that must be sustained at any cost.

              No one they know will get hurt because they really don't know anyone that has had to go through the monthly pain of paying $2500 for a junk policy, with a $5,000 deductible, for a Husband and Wife that are 62. Out of sight out of mind. That's why it's a damn good idea to force them to buy private policies. Then things would change so fast we won't know what hit us. But the change will be for the better.

              There is no way that the Political class ever would want to be in a position where they had to buy private health insurance that will double every 6 years or so while payjng less benefits.

              You do know that the Joint Chiefs asked congress to stop with the pay raises as it was taking away money for weapons systems right?

    •  Delve away... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      catilinus

      my husband is a military officer so I will be well able to answer your questions and comments.

      What compensation would you like us to give up? I'm curious.

      •  excessive pension payments (0+ / 0-)

        Well, let's look at pension pay for retired officers.

        As you know, it is common practice to promote officers just before retirement to sweeten the pension kitty.  

        •  It's impossible for that to work in practice. (4+ / 0-)

          Pension benefits take an average of your last three years of salary so a last minute promotion won't affect the final pension. And, if you accept a promotion, you sign on to serve more years. You can't accept promotion and then bail on the military.

          Currently, we have figured out that to max out our retirement benefit, my husband would need to serve 26 years. Currently he is at 21 years. It is common practice for Colonels to try and stay that 26 years in service to get every penny into their retirement fund. What is a few more years of service when you've already given 20, right? It's not like we're doing it to screw over the system; we will stay as long as the military has a job for my husband to do and as long as he feels like he has something to contribute. Honestly, if they offer him a great position at year 26, he would probably stay until 30. That's the maximum a Col. is allowed to serve.

          This would only affect Colonels - if you didn't make the rank to Col. you wouldn't stay beyond 20 years because the military wouldn't see a need to keep you. You might find a 21 year LtCol, but not much more than that.

          Generals have a different retirement plan altogether because they tend to serve 30+ years. I was just discussing this on Facebook with a friend of mine. A few disgruntled Generals from pre-Bush are upset with the retirement plans that came about during the Bush years. Some of them believe that there was a 'pay-off' component. They would keep their mouths shut about the administration if their retirement could compensate. Can't find any hard facts to back up this hearsay, however.

          So, are your concerns with Colonels or with Generals or with both?  BTW - military retirement is meant to be 'deferred pay' to help make up the difference between what a military officer could earn in the civilian world and what he or she actually earns in service. It was never intended to be a Retirement in the sense that you could actually stop working and live off the payment.

    •  Well compensated? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      You must have a very low threshold for "well."

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