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The Pentagon is in a full court press to sabotage pay for the military and veteran communities.  Nearly every week over the last year, there has been a concerted effort by decision makers in Washington proposing fresh cuts to personnel accounts.  It is being done in the most cruel way and breaks faith to those men and women who signed a solemn oath to defend our nation from those who wish do us harm.  True to form, some in Washington want to ignore all that.  Recent Washington legislation, proposals, reports, think-tanks, the media, etc... are intentionally undermining that trust and are causing a great deal of needless anxiety among our active duty troops and veteran communities.  All the while there are troops still in harms way.  Unfortunately, leadership that should be vigorously defending against those cuts are on-board with the Beltway slash and burn strategy.

Stateside Commissaries: Going the Way of the Dinosaurs?

The latest bomb-shell proposal from Washington aims to drastically scale back the Commissary benefit Stateside.  The military Commissary system is a widely popular benefit to the community.  It sells grocery items at cost plus 5% mark up to cover operational expenses and operates on a non-profit basis.  It does not have to keep jacking up prices to satisfy a Wall Street quarterly earnings report.  We need more ethically operated stores like the military Commissary system in our communities, not less.  

The Commissary system was set up to shield troops from greedy merchants that sit outside the base gates with a specific aim to get rich from unsuspecting military personnel.  Commissary systems have been in place since Civil War times for the same reasons as they are today.  Most merchants outside the gate are honorable and sell products and services at fair market prices.  However, that will swiftly change once Stateside Commissary stores are shuddered.  There will no longer be any honest competition so merchants like Wal-Mart can raise prices at will.  Thus, the benefit that so many depend on could be gone.  I am sure some millionaire Congressmen see this benefit as being too generous, too costly.

Painful COLA Cuts

If that is not bad enough, a few Congressmen engineered, in the Ryan/Murray 2013 bill, with Pentagon leadership blessing, a 1% cut to the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for retirees below the age of 62 starting in 2016 without any grandfathering clause.  When the legislation passed the House, it was quickly realized the penalty also affected medically retired veterans.  A chastened Congress saw how evil that was and reversed the cut in the omnibus bill but left it in tact the COLA cut for “working-age” veteran retirees.  While that is partially good news, leaving the cut in place for everyone else breaks faith to those who have served.  Bear in mind Congress put the COLA cut in as a backroom deal so -- it stood little chance of amendment – without a courtesy review by military advocacy groups – and most importantly, adheres to the austerian world view of slashing pay and entitlements.  

Top Brass Favored Grandfathering Before They Were Against It

It was heartening to hear General Martin E Dempsey, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff, America's top military officer, say he was for grandfathering any changes to pensions back on October 13, 2011.  He was adamantly opposed to any changes for active duty service members.  Then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta backed him up and made clear making changes to the pension system is out of the question for those who have served.

When the painful vice-grip like affects of the sequestration were being loosened last year, Gen Dempsey emerged and felt somewhat relieved.  He can go on about the business of preparing the military for the future.  However, during an interview with NPR's Tom Bowman on January 17,2014, Gen Dempsey shocked the military community by coming out favoring cuts to military pensions.   He here is trying to play on one side of the fence:  

Bowman:  In general, are we talking about limiting Cost of Living Adjustments, asking for more co-pays, higher deductibles?

Gen Dempsey:  The package that we've proposed has not yet been approved by the Secretary of Defense and the President, so I really can't speak to specifics.

Bowman:  But clearly those are the things you're looking at.

Gen Dempsey: Yeah, I mean.... that's where the money is.  Rates of pay raises – smaller pay raises, potentially changes to tri-care enrollment fees or co-pays, basic allowance for housing.  I mean that's where the money is and so that's the places where – again, though, the important point is this is slowing growth so that it becomes manageable over time.

I have one sacred obligation to the young men and women who serve. And only one. ... If I ask them on behalf of the President to go to places like Afghanistan or some other conflict, they must be the best trained, best equipped and best led force on the planet. I don't want to win 5 to 4, I want to win 50 to nothing.

To do that we've go to make the appropriate investments in training, readiness, leader development, modernization and manpower. But I can't have the manpower account so out of proportion that it precludes me from making sure that if they go into harm's way they're ready to go.

During an earlier interview with the Associated Press, on December 11, 2013, Gen Dempsey supported the “legislative proposal” as it stood, in other words he was all in favor of the 1% COLA cut to military retirees.  

Secretary Hagel, backed up by Gen Dempsey and the Service Chiefs, is pushing the line to anyone listening, compensation and benefits are out of control - without evidence - so they can convince Congress to squeeze those funds.  Why isn't anyone from the media challenging the misinformation campaign that is being waged against our troops?

Washington hired the perfect four star Generals and Secretary to run our military.  They are in perfect sync with the DC austerian crowd to keep salaries and work benefits down for everyone except themselves.  

Media: Who's Side Are They On?

Some in the media have dealt with these critical issues in a similarly unfair manner.  They see active duty and veterans as commodities, which can be traded away as if their service did not matter.  In their editorial page on November 30, 2013, the New York Times, the paper of record, recommended “putting military pay on the table.”  Siding with Pentagon leadership, they want pay “reform” – code for cuts.  The editorial quotes pro salary “cut” think-tanks to bolster their argument for “reforming” (also code for cuts) pay and benefits.  What is most repugnant in the article is the inference troops should help pay for the budget shortfalls.  I wonder if the Times is willing to make up the difference by paying more in taxes?  

What the piece fails to mention is the US government borrowed a staggering$3.1 trillions to wage the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and will continue to borrow trillions more well into the future.  The nation was not asked to help finance the two wars.  Policy makers in Washington are now trying to push some of those costs onto retired veterans and active duty troops in a very dramatic and painful way.  The problem is the federal government refuses to acknowledge how much the wars cost because if they did, that would expose the money shortfalls, and reveal more money would be needed to cover them.   Funds are scattered in many budgets so as to confuse the public.  By the way, the New York Times must have forgotten when one of their own journalists lost all sense of journalist integrity by writing favorable articles for war in Iraq, which all turned out to be based on fabricated information.  They see no irony with their position.  

When troops leave the battlefield, they continue to carry war scars – at home, at work, etc.... the trauma stays with them and their families.  The Pentagon does not cover at home care, therefore undercutting the true cost of war.

Yes, the irony.  On January 10, 2014, the Times editorial board waded into the income inequality fray with a piece titled “No Jobs, No Benefits, and Lousy Pay.”  They rightfully complain politicians in Washington are causing the income gap to widen.  They infer Congress needs to take “action” to shore up federal safety net programs to help narrow income inequality.  That is precisely what the editorial board should be doing for all cases of unfair government policies, including with military pay.

The Times editorials are just a few examples other news outlets favoring cuts to active duty and military retiree pensions, benefits and compensation.  Contrary to what some say, the cuts that are being proposed are not small by any measure as some in Washington would have you believe.  For instance, the recent enacted law which cuts “working age” military retiree COLA will have a dramatic impact on military pensioners.  According the Military Officers Association of America:

Reducing COLA by 1 percentage point each year before a person reaches age 62 has a serious and profound effect on lifetime earnings.  If you've served, you deserve the benefits promised to you.
1% COLA Cut Impact
Of course, those who favor Pentagon cuts are silent when asked if they themselves are ready to lose $124,000 in salary over a 20-year period.  After all, they've built prosperous careers alarming the public.  They try to crowd the discussion on fairness out by providing large, scary numbers without context and try to deflect attention away from their own agenda.  You see, sticking the war debt to the most vulnerable is becoming a sport for some.  

The most reprehensible part of the many proposals gutting military compensation, benefits and retirement comes from the very Congressmen, such as Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI) who favored war without the means to pay for them.  Now they are fiscally conservative and want veterans and active duty members to shoulder the cost of downsizing.  Total hypocrisy.

A More Humane Approach

As with everything in life, there are options.  We don't have to end up penalizing the active duty personnel and the military retiree community for serving in the armed forces.  What is needed is leadership in the White House, Congress and the Pentagon to demand they view the people who work for them as national treasures worth defending.  We understand the military should wind down in size but not at the expense of those who've given so much for the safety of our country.  Policy makers must not be so focused on only the spending side of the federal ledger.  They must look to those that have done so well over the years to help pay for the security they get from our troops.  Maintaining security costs money so that means raising revenues to pay for it.

Richard (RJ) Eskow wrote an excellent piece:  The Generations Should Fight Their Retirement Battles Together.  In the article he suggests the wars on “retirement security should unite us....”  I could not agree more.  There is a cottage industry that is backed by mega bucks which wants to undo the safety net Americans have.  These same people have military compensation, healthcare and pensions in their cross-hairs and have willing people in leadership positions to cut them.

To follow the ongoing struggle ...  follow the efforts at the following websites:  MOAA , Veterans of Foreign Wars, and The American Legion.  These military advocacy organizations and others have stood up for our troops and veterans, warning Congress to act in good faith when working legislation that will have an impact on those who've served.  

Originally posted to callawar on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:07 AM PST.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos, IGTNT Advisory Group, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Pentagon is still the most wasteful (8+ / 0-)

    boondoggle and corporate welfare scam in the world, and they're going to screw up our National Security even worse than they've already done.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:22:17 AM PST

  •  Simply obscene. (8+ / 0-)

    Slashing the paltry benefits and threadbare pensions for the men and women who have done the grim fighting, bleeding and dying in our endless "GWOT", just to make sure the Pentagon has enough cash to keep burning it on wasteful, flailing gold-plated weapons systems like the F-35.

    •  F-35 (5+ / 0-)

      Everyone knows the F-35 is an expensive dud.  Sen McCain asked the Air Force Chief did he fire anyone because of cost over-runs..... the answer was no.  $1T and counting.

    •  This entitledment is already paid for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      with blood, sweat, and tears of veterans and their families.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:25:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know about "threadbare" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slothlax, gffish

      There is plenty of waste to tackle at DoD before going after servicemembers' pay, but pensions aren't exactly "threadbare".

      About the minimum pension an officer could draw is bit less than $45,000/yr, plus health care.   More if they are judged to have any service-related disability.

      •  Wish I could BS sneeze (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Carol in San Antonio

        The "benefits"?  What? PAYING for Tricare? No dental, no optical, no audiological care? The VA is free?  Been in one lately.  And don't you EVEN think that 45K is great for 20 years in with God knows what wrong with you from being in so long?  Do me a favor, read my Support Our Troops diary.  Some real life bites for you.

        ~Arianna_Editrix-- I willingly accept Cassandra’s fate, To speak the truth, altho’ believ’d too late

        by Arianna Editrix on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:43:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  paltry and threadbare (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm sorry, I don't buy the idea the these benefits are paltry and threadbare.

      As the son of a navy lifer with 24 years of service, and as someone who served for 8 years myself. Benefits are not paltry, or threadbare.  

      •  They were quite decent back in the day; (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Carol in San Antonio, AnnCetera

        but for enlisted service members, the folks whose kids are living on foodstamps while they get deployed to Afghanistan for the fifth time, you can hardly describe them as generous.

        •  back in the day? (0+ / 0-)

          Pay was worse "back in the day".  In 1994 in HI I made $727 a month in BAH, an additional $122 for comrats, and $1401.00 per month is base pay.

          Today I would make $2707 in base pay, $2709 in BAH and $357 in BAS.

          Not to mention that the post 9/11 Gi benefits are much more generous than the previous version.

          Now I don't begrudge enlisted individuals getting whatever they can, but I notice that the ones complaining the loudest are the spouses of Officers.  Cry me a river, the officer class is better paid, is exposed to less risk, gets more educational opportunities, and has better job prospects post retirement than their enlisted counterparts.

        •  Those aren't the ones getting retirement. (0+ / 0-)

          The ones who need foodstamps don't usually last that long, as I understand it.

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 03:44:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  When looking at chopping blocks (6+ / 0-)

    human beings and human services are always more expendable than corporate contracts and corporate interests

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:30:41 AM PST

  •  Congrats on the Community Spotlight! (7+ / 0-)

    Hope many who haven't seen the austerity measures for military families will notice now!

  •  Military pay and benefits are gigantic costs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Gutting the commissary system seems dumb to me, but if we want real savings from the Pentagon, pay and benefits have to be part of that equation.  

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 07:17:08 AM PST

    •  I Don't Think So (12+ / 0-)

      The military spends over $75 billion a year just on R&D. There are plenty of places to make cuts. For one thing, pulling out of Afghanistan would save a boatload of money. Closing bases in, say a few dozen foreign countries where we don't need them would save money. Cutting a few thousand unnecessary nuclear bombs out of the system would save money. And insourcing all of the outsourced military services would probably save the most of all.

      IMO, military personnel ought to be paid better. They could be if we ran the military like a military operation.

      Besides which, the idea of cutting their pensions makes it easier for Republicans to argue for cutting Social Security and other programs. It's part of an overall attack on our pay.

      So, I think we should focus on cuts that matter. I'd like to see about $350 billion a year cut out of military spending. But I don't think compensation is the place to look.

      •  That is completely unrealistic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You can't cut defense spending by more than 50% (FY14 Pentagon budget is around $654bn) and say compensation is off the table.  And some of the things you cite, like withdrawing from Afghanistan and closing other overseas bases, will reduce how much service members can make in combat and separation pay.

        I just don't agree that military personnel are somehow underpaid.

        As part of the overall narrative of austerity as a Trojan horse for shredding the safety net I share your concerns.  But the idea that military pay and benefits are untouchable is not really feasible IMO

        There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

        by slothlax on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:11:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wonder, are you military yourself? (5+ / 0-)

          Would you be willing to serve for the pay and benefits as it exists today? Or maybe after it is gutted by Congress?

          If not, then who serves? Only those most desperate for what little they can get?

          I prefer a dignified compensation package for our military members. It's what my husband was promised and it helped convince me, a spouse unable to work consistently due to multiple moves and quality of work I could obtain, that we should stay for 20 or more years.

          •  Eight years in the Army reserves (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            With a tour in Iraq.  I get post 9/11 GI Bill and access to the VA, so I have a stake in this.

            I am not in favor of cutting COLA for people who were promised certain terms for the service they provided.

            But the 30% link you provided reinforces my thinking.  If personnel costs have been so consistent for so long, it is entirely reasonable to expect that to continue, which means personnel costs will have to come down along with the overall budget.  Now a lot of that can probably be accomplished through a reduction in force (RIF) as operations wind down, but compensation cannot be a sacred cow.

            There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

            by slothlax on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:33:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  The Issue Is More Fundamental (4+ / 0-)

          You can have a well paid military and well equipped military.  But that is not what the Pentagon and Congress is pushing. What they dont talk about is the cost over-runs on everyone of their new weapons platforms.  They are shafting soldiers to make up the difference.

          •  Cost overrunns and boondoggles are important (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            But eliminating "waste fraud and abuse" never adds up to the savings it promises.

            By all means, defund unnecessary platforms and programs before looking at pay and benefits, but don't expect that to cover everything.  And also realize that cutting those programs will result in the people working on those projects to lose their jobs, which is why the programs stay in the first place.  Sure, its just defense contractors, but those are good paying jobs that individual congressmen and women will fight to keep in their districts.

            In another comment I incorrectly stated the FY14 budget was around $650bn.  That was FY12, this year's budget is around $526bn.  Personnel ($137bn or about 25%) is the second biggest item in the defense budget behind Operations and Maintenance ($210bn, about 40%), Procurement is third and R&D fourth ($99bn or 18% and $67bn or 12% respectively).  I don't see how a reduction in the overall Pentagon budget happens without Personnel being part of the equation in some way.

            There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

            by slothlax on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 09:19:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really??? Did you know they took a major base (4+ / 0-)

              in Germany, closed it down without explanation and opened a brand new one miles away? For what reason? Nobody will answer. They are building a brand NEW commissary, schools, workspaces, and housing for no reason at all except to grease the palms of politicians and contractors. These are the stories nobody talks about because they want you to believe that the only places to save are in the benefits, measly at that, which our service members receive. Did you know that an E4 in the army is still eligible to receive WIC based on their income?? Yep, poverty wages are very much alive in the military and many are trying to hang on to 20 years to receive some semblance of a pension. But according to you, they have to take their lumps like everyone else. So you mean everyone else like the top brass with a direct line to the Administration that had their benefits excluded from the yearly drop in COLA or the politicians whose pensions are written in stone, or maybe you mean the contractors who are still making money building things that the military doesn't need.

              •  Sure, that's all well and good (0+ / 0-)

                Like I said, eliminating waste fraud and abuse never creates the promised savings.  And anecdotal evidence without numbers is pretty meaningless.

                The lowest paid E4 makes $2000 a month.  But he or she will also get free housing if they live on post or tax-free Basic Allowance for Housing payments if they get housing off post.  BAH is not included as "wages", so the $1,080 a month an E4 with dependents in my area gets is not included when determining eligibility for WIC and the like.  I'd say $36,000 a year as a floor for a job that requires no more than a high school diploma is not poverty wages.

                I agree that cuts should be top down.  Eliminate weapons platforms that will be obsolete or unnecessary by the time they come on line.  Don't cut earned benefits that service members agreed to in return for their service.  Gutting commissaries is plain stupid, as the diarist outlined.  Don't carve out exceptions for top brass.

                I just don't think personnel costs can be ignored.  When 25% of a given budget is deemed untouchable, that puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the budget if cuts need to be made.  Reducing the number of service members is the easiest and most direct way to reduce personnel costs, that is already happening.  If you are serious about cutting the Pentagon's budget, though, pay and benefits have to at least be looked at, even if it is the last thing you want to do.

                There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

                by slothlax on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 03:04:07 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Do you know how much daycare costs? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean, AnnCetera

                  A lot. Daycare is so ridiculously expensive these days. On average, a month of daycare costs about $600 per kid. A lot of military kids end up in daycare because either they only have one parent or both parents work. If you are talking about a family with two or three kids, most of that soldier's paycheck is going to daycare, with very little left over for anything else.

                  Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

                  by moviemeister76 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 02:08:37 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  So does this look so good when you are away from (0+ / 0-)

                  your family for months/years at a time, and getting shot at and carrying packs in 110 degree heat?

                  I'd say $36,000 a year as a floor for a job that requires no more than a high school diploma is not poverty wages.
                  I wonder how many in your area do that for $36k a year.
                  •  Yeah, it does actually (0+ / 0-)

                    Since I've been there and done that. Topped out at 130 degrees in my AO, went three months without a drop of rain. Four IED attacks while on patrol, can't tell you how many rocket and mortar attacks. Not that there were that many, I just stopped counting after the first four or five. I'm speaking from my own personal experience, being a soldier was by far and away the best job I've ever had.

                    Anyway, you said $36k was poverty wages, I'm just saying its not. But that number is just going on an E4, Privates make less, but most soldiers make more

                    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

                    by slothlax on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:19:57 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  I found R&D numbers much higher than that. (0+ / 0-)

              $62.5B for the entire DoD. Have a link for your numbers?

              I added together numbers from the BBA of 2013 that just passed in December.

        •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

          We simply can't say military benefits are off the table. They need to be reformed. The Pentagon budget is being overwhelmed by pay and benefits and the last three Secretaries of Defense have said we've got to get control of these costs.

          •  Then why not wait for the organization who was (0+ / 0-)

            tasked to review retirement to report their findings? Why cut pensions of people who have just retired or about to retire? We made decisions about remaining in the Air Force based on certain factors and if Congress can just change those at will, whose to say we will have any retirement left in a few years?

        •  Seriously? (4+ / 0-)

          Do you know how many folks in the military are on food stamps to feed their children because the military doesn't pay them enough? The military is great if you are single with no commitments. For everyone else, the pay, while not as bad as it was in the 80s, is pretty crappy.

          Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

          by moviemeister76 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 03:34:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Military pay isn't THAT crappy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            You're not going to get rich, no matter how long you stay in, but you won't starve either.

            Don't expect a fancy house, or a fancy car, or a fancy anything. If you have a big family, yes, you may wind up qualifying for some assistance. But so will most people without high paying jobs and big families.

            If you live in base housing, it varies depending on where you live. It's ADEQUATE. It's far from fancy. Everything works, you won't freeze and you won't roast, but you probably won't have top of the line appliances, whirlpool tubs, granite counters and hardwood floors, either. Nor will you have extra bedrooms, a pool, etc.

            And it's unlikely you'll afford those unless your spouse has a really good job.

            •  Wow (3+ / 0-)

              I served in the Army. I know what it was like. I also went hungry numerous times while my dad was in the Army under Reagan and Bush, Sr. One of his NCOs let him take home MREs from time to time so that we could have something to eat. And we only had a family of four. Not exactly a big family. Pay is better today, of course, thanks to Clinton raising pay, but to even think of cutting it is pretty messed up.

              Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

              by moviemeister76 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 11:39:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That was years ago (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gffish, slothlax

                And I said nothing about cutting pay, which is a stupid idea IMHO.

                But you have to compare military pay to what that person could get in civilian life - and with jobs and pay the way it is now, the military isn't much worse. In fact, in a lot of ways it's better, since you at least get medical, paid vacations, and paid sick days.

                Military pay SHOULD be better, if you ask me, because you ask way more of a military member than you do of a civilian employee.

                •  There are thousands of families on food stamps (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Carol in San Antonio, gffish

                  And that's just the families willing to actually apply for them. Many families never apply as there is such a stigma over it. This is a fact right now. Not years ago. And you are here trying to minimize the struggle these families are going through by saying it's not that bad. Like I wrote, if you are single, or at least E-5 or higher, the military is actually pretty good.

                  But if you have a family and are only E-4 and below, life is extremely rough for the first few years, especially since certain things like daycare are way more expensive than it was when I was growing up. The Army and the other branches offer assistance with paying, but parents today in the military still end up paying quite a lot for day care, just like civilian parents. It's outrageously expensive.

                  Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

                  by moviemeister76 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 01:49:39 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Pay increases since then (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mmacdDE, slothlax

                Adjusted for inflation, pay is much better today than the 1980s.  It wasn't only Clinton, in fact there were even larger pay increases under Bush Jr. -- reasonably so given the wars.

                •  And yet (0+ / 0-)

                  People are still on food stamps in the Army. They must just be lazy moochers, right?

                  Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

                  by moviemeister76 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 03:03:10 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Some soldiers may get food stamps (0+ / 0-)

                    But if the housing and food allowances were included as income, a lot of them wouldn't be eligible. I, for one, and a whole lot of food stamp recipients, would love to have our employer provide us with rent and food and not have that count as income.

                    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

                    by slothlax on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:43:06 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  It depends. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mmacdDE, Liberal Thinking, slothlax

              It is that crappy for some.

              Especially junior enlisted with a family. It's incredibly difficult for spouses to find work and when they do find work, the salary rarely covers the expense of childcare. Depending on where you've been stationed, cost of living can be high and that isn't always taken into account stateside. Often the Basic Allowance for Housing doesn't always cover the rent, much less the utilities.

              For others, none of these problems exist. So it really does depend. As to adequate housing - any more that depends as well. Some places have privatized with good and bad results. Other places are still allowing families to live in sub-standard housing. So both you and I can find examples to prove our points.

              •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Liberal Thinking, slothlax

                A lot depends on where you're stationed and what the surrounding community is like.

                If you're stationed overseas, the chances for your spouse to find work are often close to nil. And if you were used to that second income, often you have major financial problems. If you bought a house at your last base and can't sell it, you've got an extra mortgage or you try to rent it, which has its own set of costs and problems.

                If you're an officer, once you advance a little it gets much easier, for sure. But you still aren't rich.

                Child are costs are a problem for everybody, in and out of the military.

                Junior enlisted have the worst time of it because they're the worst paid. But often, they're making more than they would outside, especially given the economy and jobs right now.

                Whether the strings attached are worth it is a totally personal decision. Because there are a LOT of strings attached.

        •  I Won't Consider Them (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gffish, Carol in San Antonio

          We managed with a $400 billion military just a few short years ago. Taking $350 billion off the total is reasonable and doable, but does not require that anyone in the military take a pay cut. It probably requires a reduction in force, especially if you cut the number of foreign bases, but not pay.

          As I said, the big inflationary factor is our outsourcing of military services, along with our unnecessary wars.

          So, I don't see the need to reduce compensation unless you've got some real figures to bear that out.

          •  RIF=massive layoffs (0+ / 0-)

            The labor conundrum.  Do you sacrifice jobs for the sake of compensation?  Sounds like the classic argument management makes when they ship jobs overseas because of our "excessive" labor costs.

            My main line of thinking when I first posted was that no matter how you slice it, cutting the Pentagon budget is going to effect people you don't want it to effect.

            There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

            by slothlax on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 12:16:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Good points, LT. Military pay and benefits are (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Liberal Thinking, angelajean

        no different than those of other workers. A good day's work deserves a good day's pay. Solidarity.

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:28:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  the only way to reduce cost and increase pay (0+ / 0-)

        would be to cut the force size by 1/3rd.  How many jobs would that entail?

        •  I Want To See Other Measures First (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gffish, Carol in San Antonio

          A big part of bloated military costs is the constant outsourcing of services. The first thing I want to see is these services brought back inside the military.

          The second thing is that we've bloated the whole security establishment. That includes all the intelligence services (of which there are too many and their budgets have increased too much).

          Third, we should continue to move toward nuclear disarmament. We have on the order of 5000 nuclear weapons. By some estimates the use of 500 would be enough to induce a nuclear winter and wipe out humanity. This is what I call "Self Assured Destruction", when launching your nuclear arsenal is sufficient to ensure your own destruction.

          Fourth, we should reduce the size of the military. We have bases in dozens of foreign countries. How many of those are necessary to defend the U.S.?

          Fifth, I want to see money devoted to converting jobs from military jobs to civilian jobs in areas where we have bases in this country. I want to reduce our military spending to the 5X level. That's the level where we are spending as much as the next five largest military budgets in the world. We are spending on the order of $750 billion a year on the military (when you include all the various pieces, such as the Department of Energy, which has our nukes). I want to see a reduction in the budget of about $35 billion a year (for ten years), and have that $35 billion spent on developing non-military industries in the areas where we currently spend military dollars.

          Our best national security asset is the working economy. Any money we spend on the military in excess of what we need for our actual defense needs is hurting national security. Anything in excess of the 5X level is clearly not being spent for national security. We have to cut military spending. But I don't think we should do that by reducing pay, and I don't think we need to.

        •  Probably at least a million (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberal Thinking, slothlax

          Because it's not just the soldiers being let go. It's the industry that has grown up around all the bases to serve those soldiers. A downsize of the military to such a huge extent would cost us a million or two jobs. If not more.

          Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

          by moviemeister76 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 01:53:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Money Needs To Be Transferred (0+ / 0-)

            This is why I want the cuts to be matched by spending on moving jobs to the civilian economy. As you see in my other comment, I want the money cut each year spent in those areas where we currently spend money to sponsor new companies with civilian jobs in those areas where we currently pay military contractors.

            I know there are areas which are kept afloat by military spending. These places would be devastated by a sudden reduction in military spending. We need to make sure the money goes to develop civilian businesses in that area and provide retraining and other support to move people into those jobs.

            We can't just cut military spending. We have to transform the economy.

    •  Check out the numbers by MOAA... (3+ / 0-)

      personnel costs have remained consistent at 30% for decades. It isn't that they are rising independent of defense spending but that all defense spending has gone up. Want defense spending to go down? Then cut mission.

    •  Commisaries have to cover their costs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and that's pretty much all they have to do.

      So they do. I don't think you'll save much of anything by getting rid of them.

      Though they are rarely necessary stateside. If the base is pretty remote, maybe. For most bases now, there's plenty of shopping within reach, often with prices just as good and a better selection.

      My husband is retired military. I used the commissary for decades, but when you work their hours are often not good for you. They weren't for me. I found I was spending just as much at the commissary as I did when I shopped off base, and the commissary was more crowded and had less of a selection. Besides that, their hours were less amenable to my schedule.

      Overseas, it's a completely different story.

  •  International Symbol for Waste (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevemb, angelajean, gffish

    Is the PENTAGON.  Corporate greed is running amok in the five-sided building on the Potomac.  We need to put a stop to this crap.  Which would you rather fight with -- a half-biillion-dollar fighter jet that can't fly in the rain or a forty-five-dollar Kalinshekov assault rifle that can fire reliably in the mud?  
    We, as a Nation, have our priorities wrong.  Eisenhower was right all along.

  •  Coming soon, McSoldiers... (7+ / 0-)

    Welcome to the Army...

    Your uniforms are taken out of your pay and you pay what the contractor says it costs.  No Allowance for them.

    Tricare?  You don't need it.  You've got the ACA, so go do that.  However, if you want to see a doctor, you still need to go to sick call.  However, if you can't get an appointment that day, you still have to show up at formation.

    Housing?  That's what the private sector is for, Soldier!  You get the same amount as everybody else in the army.  I don't care WHAT the prevailing rent is in the area, it's your responsibility.  We still have the right to inspect your house though.

    Equipment? You get to buy whatever you want to use.  As long as it's army standard.  If you can't afford it, don't worry, there's lots of ways you can take a loan to afford it.  Just don't break it, son.  It comes out of your paycheck..


    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:00:42 AM PST

  •  Basically they would prefer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SQD35R, Arianna Editrix, angelajean

    The soldiers and their families to crawl into a ditch when they are no longer useful and die. After all, they are only there to protect the assets of the wealthy, so if they can't do that, what use are they to the wealthy? (sarcasm, sorta, it is how some of these creeps think)

    Women create the entire labor force.
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:50:13 AM PST

  •  Ethically, morally and historically this idea sux (0+ / 0-)

    Slaves don't protect the masters, remember Spartacus?

    "Read what you have written 3 times and think before you hit Post while commenting when tired" Recent Experience

    by Wood Gas on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 09:04:21 AM PST

  •  It probably doesn't help that some military (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slothlax, Visceral, Urban Owl, gffish

    service personnel have Gadsden Flags all over their cars/houses and support the Tea Party agenda, little realizing (though they should know better) that the chickens come home to roost at some point.  If you want government cuts for everything, well, you're going to become one of the government cuts at some point.

  •  Um, maybe we should just stop (3+ / 0-)

    getting into stupid wars.  That might save some money.

    "There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." - Mark Twain

    by rustypatina on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 11:52:44 AM PST

  •  Rec'd and Republished (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for this!

    ~Arianna_Editrix-- I willingly accept Cassandra’s fate, To speak the truth, altho’ believ’d too late

    by Arianna Editrix on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:21:42 PM PST

  •  When I see those TV ads requesting contributions (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maregug, mmacdDE, Unitary Moonbat, gffish

    to help severely wounded veterans, I want to know why we even have to make the choice to donate or let them go unserved.

    The nation should have in place funding mechanisms for these warriors' care as part of any defense budget so that the financial cost is clear as day, even if all the other physical, emotional and relational costs of being disabled by elective wars is being hidden.

    Veteran care can never be a charitable act.  It is part of the cost of sending soldiers, sailors and airmen to war.

    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. - George Orwell, 1984

    by Ammo Hauler on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:57:08 PM PST

  •  You know what I'd like to see? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arianna Editrix, gffish, angelajean

    No more war. The fetishisation of the military in this country makes Imperial Germany and Austria look weak, at the least.

    I hate war. Period.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:31:36 PM PST

    •  I am so tired of always having to "salute the (0+ / 0-)

      troops" at every football game, band concert, and virtually every other public event in my community, especially when I see cars with military base parking stickers driving around town with bumper stickers that say "Pray for Obama:  Psalm 109."  For those who don't remember that particular psalm, verses 8 and 9 read "Let his days be few, and let another take his office.  Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."

      The high number of sexual assaults committed by soldiers against other soldiers as well as against the coeds in my community, and the increasing influence of the Talibangicals in the military hierarchy make me wonder why we always have to "support the troops."

    •  Have you read Maddow's Drift? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Well worth reading. And she does a great job of explaining how war happens easier in today's US. It has nothing to do with the troops except that it is easier for our govt to manipulate the news when the force is all volunteer. Seriously, give it a go.

  •  Commisary Benefits? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    With the "private sector protection" in place on many goods i.e. they compare prices to the pvt. sec. for 5 miles around the base and the Reagan era "privatizing" of buying i.e. all you can get is name brands, shopping the commissary only makes sense if you live on base, overseas or get locked down on base...which happens more than you think.  Leave them the crumbs they have and the scraps they can get from US table.

    ~Arianna_Editrix-- I willingly accept Cassandra’s fate, To speak the truth, altho’ believ’d too late

    by Arianna Editrix on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:51:17 PM PST

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