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Bonus Deal

Paul Ryan defends cut to military and veterans' benefits in his proposed budget

December 18, 2013
John McCormack, writing in the December 15, 2013 edition of the reports on Paul Ryans defense of the proposed reduction in military and veterrans' benefits in the recently adopted House budget plan. He reports:
If cutting a bipartisan deal is so easy, why couldn't Republicans and Democrats have reached an agreement before October 1 and skipped the government shutdown altogether?

"I think the pressure of divided government has come full force, and I think the specter of one or two more government shutdowns concentrated our minds to make this divided government work," Paul Ryan said on Saturday afternoon, speaking with THE WEEKLY STANDARD by phone from his hometown of Janesville. "It's very clear that without this deal two things would happen: The military would have borne the full force of these cuts starting in January. And we would have at least one more government shutdown drama."

"We think that's bad," Ryan said during a break between games at his son's basketball tournament. "We think that's not in our interest. We want 2014 to be a year where we don't keep cutting the military, and we focus on Obamacare, we focus on the conservative reforms we want to roll out, and we win the next election so we can start saving this country."

But the Ryan-Murray deal is not without its critics. In the Senate, a growing number of Republicans have objected to bill's provision to reduce the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by one percentage point for military retirees under the age of 62. Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma have all cited the issue as a dealbreaker for them.

Ryan defended the provision on Saturday as a modest reform that's part of a broader plan to save the military from devastating cuts.

"We give them a slightly smaller adjustment for inflation because they're still in their working years and in most cases earning another paycheck," Ryan said. "Our goal here is to make sure that no other country comes close to matching the U.S. military, and the stress on the budget in the future brings that whole entire notion into question. We still have a Pentagon budget that is not where it needs to be."

Under the 2011 Budget Control Act, about $1 trillion was cut from the defense budget over 10 years--roughly $500 billion by the law's spending caps and another $500 billion through automatic sequestration cuts, which exempted personnel. The Ryan-Murray deal relieves $31.5 billion in sequestration cuts to defense over the next two years. "From my conversation with just Chuck Hagel and General Dempsey recently, the biggest relief this gets is military readiness," Ryan said. "The statistics are very, very concerning about our readiness."

The COLA reduction for military retirees, which doesn't take effect until January of 2016, would save an additional $6 billion over 10 years in the defense budget. "The defense community asked us to look at compensation and their entitlement spending within the Pentagon. We knew we couldn't put back into the Pentagon's budget as much as we'd like to, and these reforms help them with their budget," said Ryan. "The savings stays with the Department of Defense and that comes on top of the money we're giving back through the sequester."

The savings "can go to anything," said Ryan. "It can go to readiness, it can go to troops, it can go to brigades, buying equipment."

But why not grandfather benefits for current servicemembers, like Ryan does for Americans over the age of 55 in his plan to reform Medicare?

Ryan replied that grandfathering wouldn't achieve the savings the military needs, and he emphasized the pension reform only affects servicemembers who have served the 20 years necessary to qualify for a pension (just 20 percent of all veterans) and retired before the age of 62.

The bill has a "catchup provision" so that at age 62 the retiree's pension goes up to where it would have been without the COLA reduction. "I don't think people know there's a catchup provision," said Ryan. "Once they hit the age of 62, this provision recalculates their benefits so they get the full adjustment for inflation and their pension pay goes up as if nothing had happened. And from then on they have full inflation protection."
COMMENTARY: "We don't want to balance the budget on the backs of our military." Then why do it??? Because it is easy and doesn't affect them in any way.

A 1 percent reduction of a 1.5 percent cola is a pretty big reduction for a family of four who are trying to regain the huge difference in pay that they lost while serving for 20 years compared to what they would have made in the civilian sector. Most military retirees will not find a job in the civilian sector that compares with their military occupational specialty so they will take a huge reduction in earnings until they spend the years to catch up. We hear a lot about companies that talk about their willingness to hire veterans but it is not because of their occupational specialties it is because we have learned the value of hard work, showing up on time and doing the best job we can, even if it is at lower pay.

The "Catch Up Pay" is a throw away because as we all know our representatives have very short memories and anything more than a couple of years away will be lost in their efforts to secure another election or satisfying some campaign donor, or lobbyist. Why is it that no one wants to do the work of looking into all the waste, fraud and abuse to save money and quit using the military as a whipping boy? I tell you why, because a lot of that waste, fraud and abuse is going into their pockets. They will never reduce the input to the trough where they all feed.

As a parting thought the government shutdown was not a shutdown…….. it was a paid vacation, if there was any money saved it was minimal.

SMSgt George Schryer (ret.) is a 24-year Air Force veteran. He served as a B-52 tailgunner (see insert on the masthead) in Vietnam. Tailgunners were trained to not only protect the plane from the rear from enemy fighters but to also assist other B-52's following in a formation that might have experienced difficulty with their radar in locating the target. The tailgunner in the forward plane would use his radar to locate the target and then signal to the following plane where to drop its bomb load. The technique was called "The Bonus Deal." George and his wife Gail have lived in Beaufort County for the last 17 years and since his 'second' retirement from Grady White Boats in 2006 after 12 years there. He is a life-member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, currently serving as the Chief of Staff for the Commander of VFW District 2. George will be offering information for veterans and their families and commenting on issues he believes are important to all of us. He speaks for himself and not the Air Force, VFW or anyone other than himself. We thank George for providing this "Bonus Deal" to the veterans and their families in our readership. You can contact George at:
  1. reply print email
    Cut in Veterans Retirement Benefits
    December 19, 2013 | 02:16 PM

    - Senator Chuck Schumer says "veterans have to pay their fair share."

    - Every veteran has paid "fair share" up front by putting their lives on the line everyday to protect and defend America.

    - In my view, the representatives and senators who have never served the country in a job that requires putting their life on the line, is riding on the back of every veteran who has served and particularly those who have lost limbs and eyesight, etc.

    - Stealing from veterans retirement benefits also breaks what should be a solemn government retirement benefit promise made when these veterans signed up.

    - There are plenty of other places in the budget to find six billion dollars!

    - I have not read of any cuts to congressional pay. Where is your "fair share" listed in the budget deal?

    Wayne R. Brendel
  2. reply print email
    Cut in Retirement Benefits
    December 19, 2013 | 05:03 PM

    I have moved 11 times in 15 years so my career as a military spouse is that of MOM since I really have no choice but to stay home (especially when we have been stationed overseas). We sold our home at a loss because of a short notice P.C.S. and we have to pay for private school for our two boys since we live in Louisiana and the schools are horrible here. I have lived with deployments, no family to count on, and wondering if my husband will come back from war. We have paid a very high price to serve this country. The one thing I had to count on was our retirement. We have earned every penny.

    Amie Lennon
  3. reply print email
    reduced cola for military retirees
    December 19, 2013 | 05:26 PM

    The members of the house and senate all make more money than active duty military folks without the inherent risks. Why don't they reduce their pay? They have been unable to pass a budget, they allowed the government shutdown, and they don't have to worry about it. If they can't figure out a better place to make cuts than defense and military retirees, how can we expect them to be able to make up the difference when we turn 62? Stop sending money to countries that hate us anyway and fix this mess!

    kelly kilgore
  4. reply print email
    Paul Ryan and Mil cuts
    December 19, 2013 | 06:36 PM

    once again the courageous representatives of the Amerikan people stand up and take the easy way out. If it weren't so tragic it would be humorous to watch a country destroy itself from the inside by the very people who are sworn to defend it's founding principles.This action is merely a symptom of a diseased and dying society.

    richard l
  5. reply print email
    Cut to military
    December 19, 2013 | 06:43 PM

    It's funny that he says he doesn't want to stress the military but with all the cut backs and manning cuts, those of us still in feel the pressure of the cuts. Let's start making cuts on capital hill, make them who think Obama Care is good, fall under that suppose great medical plan. If Obama Care is good enough fo r my family, why not good enough for the president and his family? We need to make cuts to Congress and Senate retirement plans. Military only gets 50% while they lose no pay and only need to serve one term. How about make Obama pay for his own vacations and not tax payers!!!!

    Daniel Hume
  6. reply print email
    Veterans Cuts - non support of our veterans
    December 19, 2013 | 06:47 PM

    Veterans are one group of citizens who have earned their "benefits" far above any other group. It's incredible that our government should even consider not respecting their benefits - it's seems part and parcel of undermining our entire military.

    Brenda Flemmons
  7. reply print email
    Cuts and Ryan
    December 19, 2013 | 09:03 PM

    Why not cut handouts to illegals, and congress, and the vacations of the first family,
    How does one in congress get elected and have so little and become a mollioinaire in one or two terms?
    Same for our current president?

    Roger Dearman
  8. reply print email
    Veterans cuts
    December 19, 2013 | 09:12 PM

    I don't understand why retired military members are the only ones being forced to give up retirement pay to add money back into the DoD budget. Are we not protecting your bacon over there Mr. Ryan? Shouldn't all Americans be helping out in this area? My guess is that by making cuts that affect so few, you hope the fall out come election time isn't so great.

    The catch up contribution is great, but you are forgetting that by the time that comes, we have lost 1% for over 20 years! That money doesn't get back paid to us.

    T. Pearce
  9. reply print email
    gutless government
    December 19, 2013 | 11:25 PM

    Let me get this straight. When the government is shutdown, government employees stay home, don't work, and when brought back to work are paid for their time at home? Why can't we reduce the Government employees annual increase by 1à Oh that's right, they're union and the Democrats don't want to touch union benefits!

    J. VanDuzer
  10. reply print email
    military retiree pay cuts
    December 20, 2013 | 01:58 AM

    I know this sounds redundant, but I think it is a shame that our reps in congress are willing to cut military benefits and to say that those vets need to pay their fair share. Why can't they take a 1% pay cut? It wouldn't hurt them near as much as it will hurt the vets. And I don't even want to get into the sorriness of Obama himself. Well, except to say that I think, and I'll guarantee that I'm not the only one, he should be removed from office and given no benefits at all. What a sorry excuse for a president and a man.

    daniel casher
  11. reply print email
    Paul Ryan
    December 20, 2013 | 04:38 AM you're saying you would vote for Paul Ryan again for any position in this government...."you're some special kind of stupid aren't ya".

  12. reply print email
    Veterans benefits cuts
    December 20, 2013 | 08:40 AM

    As a retired MSG with 21 years of service I think that it is unfair for congress to reduce our COLA while they get pay raises every year. Also when they loose an election and no longer serve in congress they have better benefits than any retired veteran gets and they only have to serve one term. So how about balancing the budget with the same reductions in their benefits.

    Robert Wenck
  13. reply print email
    Paul Ryan
    December 20, 2013 | 12:31 PM

    How much would the government save if Congress had to live by the same rules as they want the military to live by. You don't get nearly your whole salary in retirement for serving just one term. You don't have the government subsidize your insurance through Obama Care when you make nearly $200,000 a year plus all you can steal.
    Paul Ryan sold the military retirees and disabled veterans like myself down the river, and I'll never donate a single dime to the RNC as long as people like him are there. We have too many old RINOs like John McCain, the Speaker of the House and others that only see the benefits for the party and to hell with the people they are supposed to represent. I'm starting to be ashamed of the GOP. It's the Tea Party for me from here on out.

    Roger Carpenter
  14. reply print email
    Paul Ryan and veterans retirement
    December 20, 2013 | 06:23 PM

    NO cuts to illegals theft of services they are not qualified for. NO cuts to generational welfare leeches. NO cuts to politicians benefits, perks, pay, nor retirement plan.

    Ryan is dead to me, as is EVERY deadbeat political hack who voted for this.

    Darrel Wheeler
  15. reply print email
    Veterans Cut
    December 21, 2013 | 07:47 AM

    If Paul Ryan had any intentions to run for President of this country; they are over, with this cut.

    What was he thinking? Has he switched ideologies?

    He cuts benefits for the very people that put their lives on the line for this country; while never cutting Anything from our over paid, over spending, over benefited politicians.

    If anyone has Paid their fair share it is our Veterans. When has Any politician risked his life or taken a cut for this country?

    I guess it is easier because 13 of the top most influential congressman have served less than 8 months in the military.

    What a sad state our country is in, taking from the very people we rely on to protect us. What a disappointing decision from Paul Ryan and the Republicans.

    Sharon Ulissi
  16. reply print email
    Senator Sessions had the answer
    December 21, 2013 | 09:19 AM

    Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) had the right answer to this Ryan screwup. Sessions proposed an amendment in the Senate to switch the cuts from military pensions to cuts in welfare (refundable tax credits) being given to illegal aliens. Unfortunately the Democrats, including Hagan voted not to allow this amendment. They would rather cut veterans who have eerved our country than take welfare away from illegal aliens who should not even be in our country in the first place. What is really telling about the degree to which Paul Ryan, in his quest to become president has become a total RINO is that Ryan spoke out AGAINST the Sessions amendment. Of course, one also has to remember that RINO Ryan has also become a mucho amigo of the illegals by becoming a very vocal supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens.

    Ryan is absolutely unacceptable as a presidential nominee.

  17. reply print email
    Thanks for nothing
    December 22, 2013 | 12:34 PM

    Simply put, I feel that your vote broke a promise made to our military veterans. I strongly urge you to quickly correct this deficient law and restore the earned benefits of retired veterans.

    RET CPO Steward
  18. reply print email
    Paul Ryans treason
    December 22, 2013 | 09:17 PM

    Just when was it that Paul Ryan served in the military? Or for that matter the vast majority of our Representatives and Senators. Not content with directing our military strategy, they have now cut the legs out of recruitment as well as active military. This reminds me of the same crap that FDR and Jimmy Carter pulled when we downsized our military prior to WWII and the rise of Terrorism. Our draftees in boot camp were hoisting broomsticks and our helicopters crashed in the desert. This is why adolescents should not be allowed to hold office they have no institutional memory.

    John W. LaCava
  19. reply print email
    February 07, 2014 | 02:42 PM

    Hmmmm... you cut the COLA increase for us Veterans, yet you found $684,000,000 in the bank to pay for advertising for Obamacare and enough money in the bank to underwrite the Post Office's $4,000,000,000 cost overrun.
    Yeah. Seems fair.

  20. reply print email
    This is Republicans support for Veterans
    April 22, 2015 | 09:18 PM

    This is the way Republicans support our Military and Veterans.... A kick in the teeth.

    Marshall Adame
  21. reply print email
    Another politico out for himself
    December 20, 2015 | 11:47 PM

    This is just another case of an idiotic idea from a congressman who could care less for the people who put it on the line so he can have a job where he is being way overpaid. Severe pay and benefit cuts for congress should be implemented immediately. They should have to punch the clock and receive an hourly wage...freshman at minimum...and live in government housing with that money coming from their pay.No fact finding (party) trips, no contact with lobbyists with deep pockets.Maybe if they had to live like military personnel they would have a little better understanding of the hardships.But, you see, the foxes are in charge of the chicken coop.

    Patti Lounsbury
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