Paul Ryan is having a bit of a nightmare. Because of the Bi-partisan Budget Act passed in December, he is catching hell from retired military and military families, especially those on the right who believed Paul Ryan, and other Republicans, supported not only the DoD but the members of the military themselves.
It's been a rude awakening for both sides.
“I hope you and your cowardly Republican ‘colleagues’ hear a message from me loud and clear,” writes Chuck Wooten, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, after receiving a fundraising letter from Ryan. “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.”In a recent interview with Hugh Hewitt of the conservative radio show, The Daily Caller, Ryan only doubled down. He dared to say that "those in the military have not paid into their retirements," clearly not understanding the concept of deferred compensation nor of a currency other than straight cash. Military service members have given blood, sweat, and tears over the last 12 years and Ryan seems to think that their contributions to our country have not been enough to collect their full retirement.
To make it worse, he dared to say:
If we don't watch it, the military is going to become a government benefits agency that fights wars on the side.That is the worst thing to say to a staunch conservative Republican veteran. They hate when military pension is compared to any kind of benefit of at all. They will rightly remind every Republican politician that their pension was earned and then likely remind that politician that their own Congressional pension is more easily obtained than any military retirement.
Ryan is trying to separate himself from his poor choice to attack the military rather than the DoD by deflecting the blame to the House Appropriations committee:
“If you think I wanted to do this…that’s not true,” Ryan said, later adding, “Look, I didn’t write this bill that’s coming to the floor tomorrow…this isn’t a bill that I wrote.” Ryan said that the House Appropriations committee wrote the bill that is expected to pass Wednesday. Ryan repeatedly claimed that he didn’t want to have to support veteran cuts.And it's not just Ryan that's making waves. John Boehner decided to step in the fray yesterday:
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, signaled in a brief hallway conversation with The Associated Press that he would oppose a broader drive to repeal the entire pension provision, which saves $6 billion over the coming decade by reducing the annual cost-of-living adjustment for working age military retirees by 1 percentage point.I tell you folks, this is a rare opportunity. It isn't often you see part of the Republican base riled up about pensions. And although military families and veterans are a small group, we're large enough to make some noise. Take a look below the fold so see some of the noise we've been making.
If you would like, you can listen to my interview of yesterday with Union Edge Radio (start time 5:27). Charles Showalter helped me make the plea to his broad audience that the military, while having no official union, has the strong voice of the American people. Will you join us? There are several ways to help:
Follow #KeepYourPromise on Twitter (and tweet and retweet by our sides!)
Like KeepYourPromise on Facebook (and engage in the conversations there)
Sign this petition by IAVA via Change.org
Or use these handy sites to send emails to Congress:
And, of course, contact Congress. Here is a how-to guide for visiting Congressmen next week while they are on recess.