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Well, that is not exactly what they said but it should be.  The title of the report Approaches to Reducing Federal Spending on National Defense uses Beltway jargon to mask the pain they recommend to inflict on military personnel and retirees.  Typical of such Washington studies of recent times, is the focus on capping pay, while also boosting TRICARE cost sharing. Sure, there is one procurement item they threw in the report to trim to make it look balanced but who believes the Services will want to trade the Joint Strike Fighter for F-16s?  Get real!  The report fails to find any other savings throughout the massive DoD budget.

This new report by the CBO is a clear indication where Washington wants to target DoD savings:  on active duty and military retirees.  The takeaway is the Beltway messaging crowd has successfully convinced everyone in the Beltway the military personnel costs are exploding to the point of being unmanageable.  Notice those that say such things dont provide empirical evidence to that assertion.  

The Military Retirement Trust projected only 1.4% growth per year for the next 10-years in the last DoD Actuary report.  Hardly an explosive situation.  What the bean counters are afraid of is and few admit to is active duty pay is passing the 80% of what a civilian equivalent makes.  The Washington elite want to trim that back so they can fund more hardware acquisitions.  They could care less about recruiting and wanting to retain the best and brightest.  I hate to say it but seems like breaking faith will be the norm.

The other expense the CBO recommends trimming is TRICARE.  Costs have gone up for TRICARE over the years because the US pays higher prices for medicines and health care services than any other nation.  The US government fails to negotiate medicine prices so we pay a lot more than Belgium, for example, for the same medications.  Doctor fees are also way out of line compared to other countries.  This is unconscionable, but you wont find such potential savings recommendations in the CBO report.  

However, what the alarmists in Washington are basing a part of their venting is on a GAO report.  The report had some old assumptions on pharmaceutical delivery costs.  What is missing from this report is what is going in the pharma drug industry as a whole now.  Their predictions are way off.  Drug pricing has tapered off in recent years due to many factors, such as loss of patents and lack of innovation in the industry sector.  

GAO should be challenged to make another study on retail drug pharmacy in the DoD to get a better gauge on actual costs.  Dont count on it though.  The old report will likely be used like a set of shears to make active duty and retirees pay more for their health care costs.  This is on top of the cut in the military retiree COLA formula.  

Washington wants everyone to believe the sky is falling and military compensation is off the charts.  That is simply not the case by their own reports.  The much bigger picture though is personnel accounts are targeted by the Washington establishment in order to pay for defense industry hardware.  It is a zero sum arrangement after all.

Originally posted to callawar on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:39 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'd cut that f@cker in half to start. (10+ / 0-)

    It is waste, fraud and abuse.    

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 05:12:48 AM PST

  •  Sounds like they need to hire (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, divineorder, NoMoreLies
  •  since shortly after WWII our military has been (4+ / 0-)

    more about wealth distribution and being a cash cow for some than about defending the US.  And we've spent decades looking for enemies so the few can milk the many.

    elipsii: helping the masses express aposiopesis for...

    by bnasley on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 08:02:13 AM PST

  •  Before you attack the CBO (13+ / 0-)

    You should remember the following:

    They have to follow the instructions they were given by the Congresscritters who ordered the report!

    If they are told to assume that they can only find savings in personnel costs, then that's what they have to do.

    So you ALWAYS need to look at who ordered a given CBO report, and what were the assumptions that were made in creating the report. Otherwise, alarmist responses are premature and unhelpful.

    •  Congress is full of dedicated servants (4+ / 0-)

      working for the benefit of defense contractors, Democrats as well as Republicans. The majority of Congresscritters are vulnerable to hometown backlash if contracts get cut back, not to mention the impact on campaign funding.

      We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term. --Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

      by uffdalib on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:04:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What I'm saying is (6+ / 0-)

        That such thinking may have been "baked in" to the report. The CBO can't just do whatever it wants. That's why they get such strange "fairy dust" results whenever they have to analyze Paul Ryan's numbers, because he throws in ridiculous conditions. For instance, according to this Wonkblog article:

        Ryan tells CBO to assume his tax plan will raise revenues to 19 percent of GDP and then hold them there. He tells them to assume his Medicare plan will hold cost growth in Medicare to GDP+0.5 percentage points. He tells them to assume that spending on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program won’t grow any faster than inflation. He tells them to assume that all federal spending aside from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will fall from 12.5 percent of GDP in 2011 to 3.75 percent of GDP in 2050.
        And that's the assumptions the CBO has to work with. They're not allowed to really vet if those assumptions are realistic or not.
      •  Thhis Congress has been very good .... (0+ / 0-)

        ... at putting the blame for all things negative at the foot of the POTUS and his (party) which will get POTUS more involved in decision who gets more/less of the budget pie...longterm unemployed or military. Typical current repug strategy...don't devise a position that works for betterment of nation, rather to create devision and confusion and to hell with progress.

        Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

        by kalihikane on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:13:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Lose the contractors. A civilian doing a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, JerryNA

    private's job should nt earn $100K per year or more.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 08:54:31 AM PST

    •  Most contractors aren't doing a private's job. (0+ / 0-)

      Force limitations mean that many duties, like food service, that used to be carried out by the uniformed personnel now... legally can't be. Because there aren't enough uniformed personnel.

      There's also the issue of technical work that most enlisted simply aren't qualified to handle, like upper level systems management. Almost all handled by contractors because the enlisted persons who get experienced enough to get those jobs... leave for the better pay in the civilian world.

      Which is another point that shouldn't be missed: Most of the these contractors are former military themselves. Don't hate them just because they now make a living wage.

      •  its not a legal issue (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        its a financial one

        When I ran a dining facility (DFAC) all of my cooks were soldiers.  My DFAC NCO was an E-7 who hadnt cooked a meal in years.  He was essentially management.  nex t two below him were the same - management.  Then my line cooks were E4s and E5s.  All good.  The problem was that because they were soldiers I had to send them to the same leadership schools that everyone else did.  So at some point my E4s were gone for a month to learn how to lead PT and march formations and conduct counseling.  My E5s did that for 2 months plus a month of cooking related schooling.  And so on.  So I had guys who I needed to flip burgers who could do that PLUS they could do EMT level medical tasks, dismounted land navigation, conduct professional counseling and were qualified on multiple weapon systems.  All that training cost time and money.  What also cost time and money was moving them every 3 years.  And providing housing, medical and retirement.  Plus 30 days a year of paid vacation and probably another 30 days of various holidays.  All for a skill that didnt require someone in uniform.  

        back in the 90s the Army took a long hard look at what we were doing and looked at what we HAD to do.  We HAD to pull triggers.  We HAD to lead.  After that the list got short and we looked at what we could outsource.  Some of it went too far, some not far enough.  But it was all about money.

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:36:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was all about overcompensating civilians (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          civilian corporations to improve the bottom lines of certain business entities.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:18:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  not originally (4+ / 0-)

            as an example, almost all food service contracts for Army posts went to small local contractors.  Often a large post would have 3 or 4 different providers (which could be a real pain!).  It wasnt until the Bush years that the big corporate guys got involved - go figure.

            It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

            by ksuwildkat on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:04:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Contractors get ~1.8x pay of feds (POGO report). (0+ / 0-)

              The DoD could hire federal employees and come out ahead. "Originally" outsourcing was a decent-sounding idea, but it has proven to be a failure, especially after the Bush/Cheney years of contractors and crooks leading the government.

            •  Funny thing about that. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              It wasnt until the Bush years that the big corporate guys got involved - go figure.  

              "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

              by Calamity Jean on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:56:07 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Horsebleep. A lot of jobs thatenlisted people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        did, and learned to do, were shifted to private contractors by Cheney back when he was defense, leading to his job at a company that suddenly got a shitload of contracting work. De-contract the contractors and hire more enlisted personnel.

        Nobody is hating on contractors simply because they get paid 100 to 300K per year to wash dishes or drive a truck. I'm simply saying that, those jobs were deemed to be appropriate for given grade levels of uniformed employees, and that's what the appropriate level of pay is. The use of hating on says a ton about those who use it as a reflex reaction to criticisms of thing, by the way.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:16:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I made a comment a while back that the pet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    projects will be the LAST place they will ever cut, and ascending from there are senseless wars and foreign occupations, bases closing, educations costs for personnel, benefits for personnel, pay for personnel. They will start with pay both current and retirement and work their way through. There is no surer way to kill the vote than to vote against military retiree pay, Tricare cuts, and anything that cuts the benefits of personnel before cutting the other pork. THIS is what happens when people clamor to have defense cut without being specific!!!!!!!!

  •  If you use Wikipedia - (12+ / 0-)

    Then the following ships are planned or ordered
    3 Gerald Ford Class Aircraft Carriers, with 7 more planned @ approx $8 Billion apiece

    10 America Class Amphibious warfare class transport docks @ $3.4 Billion apiece

    3 San Antonio class amphibious landing ships @ $350 million apiece

    4 Arleigh Burke Destroyers with 30 more planned @ $800 million each

    2 Zumwalt destroyers @ $3.5 billion apiece

    2 Freedom Littoral combat ships, 16 more planned @ $673 million apiece

    3 Independence littoral combat ships, 10 more planned @ $700 million per ship - original projection was $220 million per ship

    8 Virginia class attack subs, 30 more planned @ $370 million per unit.

    So, you can probably quibble with the numbers above, but in an era when a relatively cheap torpedo or missile can sink any one of these vessels is this a good investment?  

    When you think about how much tax you pay, and how much one of these costs, would you rather see your money go to health care or education or scientific research or humanitarian causes?  Would you rather spend it on your own home and kids rather than on weapons to blow up someone else's home and kill their kids?

    Ike was right -

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
    This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron
    But nah, let's screw the men and women who served, instead.

    "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

    by nightsweat on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:04:45 AM PST

    •  You do need to fire them from something... (0+ / 0-)
      a relatively cheap torpedo or missile can sink any one of these vessels is this a good investment?  
      Most, if not all of the planned new construction is intended to replace ships that are at or near the end of their expected service lives.  You have to decide where to reduce the Navy's global operational commitments so they can be safely met with a smaller fleet.   The military will try to accomplish whatever mission they are given with whatever resources they have.  Over committing puts more young men and women in harm's way.  

      The meek shall inherit the earth, but not its mineral rights. — dictum attributed to John Paul Getty

      by JustBeKos on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:54:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Those are chump change (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wylieSteve, JerryNA

      Look at the F35
      Look at ANYTHING the Air Force wants.

      F-35 is $1.45 trillion.  TRILLION.


      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:38:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tough question... but how do you get (0+ / 0-)

      your torpedos, landing craft, fight jets, etc. to the enemy if you don't have ships?

      For example, if the Chinese decide to push hard on their claims on the South China Sea and deny passage to US vessels how, exactly, do you want to respond unless you have destroyers, aircraft carriers, etc?

      If Kim Jong Un gets a bit hot under the collar and sends his troops south and we want to put troops in behind them, cut them off, and then head north to put Kim's head on a stick how do you plan to do that without amphibious landing vessels and the vessels you need to protect them?

  •  One simple medical cost cut (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, Hirodog, JerryNA

    That isn't even a cut. TriCARE beneficiaries cannot use VA pharmacies to fill their prescriptions. This drives costs up for Tricare.

    Make the VA pharmacy system the first choice for Tricare beneficiaries both for the members and their dependents.

  •  CBO breaking faith, or repub congressional... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobatkinson, JerryNA

    ...influence taking odds on public patriotic high support of military falling-off from high-water-mark after 9/11 surprise attack. Looks like congressional repubs are barrowing from Koch bros'/ Gov walker playbook in Wisconsin, where they created a wedge between previous consistent  general public support for public school teachers to blaming public school teachers for state budget problems. just saying.

    Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

    by kalihikane on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:50:16 AM PST

  •  CBO didn't appear to use that GAO Pharma report (0+ / 0-)

    in their estimates forming a significant basis for the presentation.

    So, I wonder, are you sure of the link you state between GAO-08-327 and the Manpower Roundtable presentation.

  •  Well...yeah. But not exactly. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    CBO doesn't "recommend" anything. They provide data and analysis on the impacts of various "what if's" presented to them by Congress. Personnel costs are generally the single largest cost in most organizations, so it's not surprising somebody asked for a study on what net impact reductions in HR costs would have. Don't yell at CBO =-yell at whichever 'critters tasked them to study that.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:10:34 PM PST

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