Congress Needs To Rethink Its Priorities

Politico posted an article today about the appointment of Joe Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The article reports:

The Obama administration is counting on Dunford to take the lead in pushing a series of proposals designed to shrink the pay and benefits of troops as the Pentagon wrestles with the need to rein in its personnel costs.

There was a related article in yesterday’s New Bern Sun Journal.

The article in the Sun Journal explains where some of the cuts will take place. Military personnel who retire after 20 years will receive 40 percent of their basic pay rather than the 50 percent they currently receive. Military personnel who serve for 12 years will also receive a retirement benefit. I don’t know whose idea this was, but they need to rethink it. First of all, does the person who came up with this plan understand the sacrifices a soldier and his family make during that twenty years? Do they understand that a 40-something year old man retiring from the military will begin his business career at the bottom of the ladder competing with much younger men? Why are they taking money away from people who serve twenty years and giving money to people who serve only twelve? There is also an alternative 401k-type retirement plan proposed for new military members. I am fine with that as long as the benefits for those currently serving are not altered. The government signed a contract with our current military that promised certain benefits during their service and afterwards. Congress does not have the right to viod that contract.

Politico reports some of the other changes:

An even more controversial proposal, put forward by an independent commission, would overhaul the military health care system, known as TRICARE, so that dependents and retirees would choose from private insurance options that would be subsidized, rather than have the care provided through a government-run system.

I don’t oppose taking the health care system away from the government–I do oppose increasing the cost to military members, retirees, and their families.

There are better places to cut the federal budget. We have an all volunteer military force that includes many very dedicated people. Cutting their benefits will impact the number and quality of the people who join the military in the future.

Before we cut the benefits we give to those who serve in our military, let’s take a really good look at the perks we provide to Congress.