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A US Marine stands guard outside the Pentagon
This Marine is not causing the deficit.
Last year, the Defense Business Board, a committee of corporate executives established by Donald Rumsfeld, issued a plan calling for drastic reductions in military pensions. Secretary Panetta said at the time he was considering the proposal but ultimately decided to hand off any decisions about pension benefits to a blue ribbon commission. Back in April, Army Times reported on how the commission would be constructed:
First, none of the nine commissioners appointed by the president and Congress would belong to a military or veterans advocacy group, and no more than four commissioners could have active-duty military experience. These limitations may prevent those mostly likely to oppose retirement reform from forming a majority on the commission.

Second, one of the commission’s guiding principles will be to save money. While there are other goals — modernizing retirement benefits, helping with career management, and aiding recruiting and retention — the savings goal guarantees that the result will not be a more generous retirement plan.

The commission would work much like the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in that it would come up with a non-amendable bill that faces an up or down vote in Congress. Considering the DBB has already recommended converting military pensions to one of these awful 401(k) plans, it should be pretty clear what a new military pension commission would recommend.

Military families are already facing tremendous increases in copayments in Tri-Care being aggressively pushed by the Pentagon and the White House. The White House has even issued a veto threat if the Defense authorization doesn't include the premium increase. Worse, is news like this:

The 2013 raise will be 1.7%. We are deeply concerned about DoD’s pay proposals for 2015 and beyond. DoD officials state they plan to set raises below ECI beginning in 2015—their proposals show these raises would be almost miniscule—starting with just 0.5% in 2016, significantly lower than any recent ECI annual increase.
To use a naval term, it is time to drop anchors. FULL STOP. It is absolutely unconscionable that Congress is seeking savings on the backs of active duty service men and women or veterans. This country is still engaged at war all across the globe and has just concluded one of the longest military conflicts in our history. The last thing Congress or the Administration needs to be doing is looking for areas of savings in military benefits. Washington certianly shouldn't consider military pay and benefits in the same way it considers physical military infrastructure, as if our men and women in uniform are merely another part of the complex. How could they even think such a commission would be accepted by the American people when a majority of its members are required to have no experience or knowledge of the challenges military families face?

There is plenty of fat in the Defense budget to be cut. The Pentagon spends about one third of the budget on military pay and benefits. The rest is spent on civilian pay, weapons programs, and war. It would seem to me that these last two areas would be the first places one should cut considering they cost the most. And if necessary, the Pentagon should propose a war tax strictly for the funding of military benefits. I think it is a tax most patriotic Americans would be happy to pay and it wouldn't cost much:

A 10 percent tax surcharge, similar to the one during the Vietnam War, would bring in roughly $112 billion if applied in 2012, according to Alan D. Viard, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and former senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. That would just about cover the expected $116 billion for war costs in 2012.

Although Viard said he was not endorsing such a step, he said the surtax would not affect the 40 percent of American households that pay no income tax at all and would add just one-tenth to rates of those who do pay income tax.

But before anything is proposed or negotiated with respect to military and veterans benefits, these matters should not be discussed in the context of deficit reduction. Our people in uniform deserve better than that.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As a veteran, salute to you for this (33+ / 0-)

    But let me offer this:

    Put Social Security and Veterans Disability Benefits on the table with the following proviso - I rely on both:
     

    Not until tax rates are rolled back to Saint Ronald Reagan's era can any entitlements be touched.
    heh.
    Oh, yes. There is one more way to same a pile of tax dollars not to mention some lives . . . it's to gat the hell out of Afghanistan RIGHT NOW.

    Those who fought the war in Afghanistan won it. Get them out of Afghanistan NOW . . . It's long past time. Those who want to wage the next war in Afghanistan are condemned to lose it.

    by llbear on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:20:31 PM PST

  •  they should bring procurement and services (24+ / 0-)

    back in-house, and fire all the contractor gravy train corps, if they want to save some money. ditto for mercenaries and military contractors. and a hell of a lot of bases should be closed globally as well.

    after that, the obvious place to cut is homeland security and the intelligence-industrial complex sucking like a leech on federal funding.

    soldiers and their families should get better benefits, as far as i'm concerned. take the money out of rich people's hide.

    •  Shorter version (11+ / 0-)

      They don't want  cuts unless its our little safety net and incomes.

      Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

      by divineorder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:47:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i agree (0+ / 0-)

      Cut the  no bid contracts out. They over charge, get caught and still get new contracts.
      And while I think the Vets should get FREE health care, I do not support a War Tax.
      We are not at war. We are invading other countries for the corporations.
      Iraq was no threat tous. Nor was the WHOLE  country of Afganistan, Pakistan, Libya, ect.
      These are acts of agression and are war crimes. Just like it was when agermany invaded other countries.
      And instead of. Cutting any social programs helping taxpayers, quit giving our taxes away to other countries.
      How far would the 3 billion we give to Israel go here in the US?  
      How many other countries are getting OUR money?  
      And who said they could do that in the first place?  
      I do not support the drone program.
      Nor the kill list

      America never needed so much in the last election and got so little.

      by snoopydawg on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:42:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And when does (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vzfk3s, Tfill

        Congress start making sacrifices?  
        Cut half their staff. Take away their drivers
        Drivers for any higher up in the military.
        My God, they already ask for the soldiers to put their lives on the line.
        Now they want them to pay more for the injuries they get when these chicken shits send them in to harms way for their buddies.

        America never needed so much in the last election and got so little.

        by snoopydawg on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:48:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  IIRC that's part of what's in the works. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tfill, LilithGardener

      Obama's also putting the squeeze on contractors to meet their actual bids or not get paid.  This is all part of his package for cutting military spending, no harm to active duty soldiers or vets.

      We've not had a President this committed to vets and soldiers.  He won't allow cuts that harm them.  

      I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

      by I love OCD on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:47:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Infuriating. (22+ / 0-)

    These men and women sign up for a pittance and put their lives on the line, fighting the wars most of us – the other 99% – only see on television.

    Fighting the wars that draft-dodgers like George Bush and Dick Cheney got us into, and that serial evaders and cowards like Mitt Romney, his sons, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, God alone knows who else, without risking their own flesh and blood.

    Absolutely. Fucking. Not.

    Fuck you, I put on pants yesterday.

    by MBNYC on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:23:24 PM PST

    •  There should be a special SHAME tax (12+ / 0-)

      for the assholes like Dick Cheney and George Bush and Paul Ryan that led us into the current fiscal mess with their eyes wide open.

      I'm not sixty-two—I'm fifty-twelve!

      by Pragmatus on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:39:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What MBNYC Said!! ^^^^^^^^^^^ (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, MBNYC, Egalitare

      Talk about welshing on solemn promises.

      No.  No.  Hell, No!!

      (-7.62,-7.33) l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

      by argomd on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:44:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The 1% like Cheney/Halliburton (5+ / 0-)

      and other too bigs make obscene profits off the 'wars'. Be they the GWOT,  resource wars, or geopolitical dominance wars. Contractor's, weapon makers/dealers and even our so called representatives are war profiteers. At this point or armed services are nothing but Olivers Army. Our 'defense' budget is unjustifiable and insane as it does not protect the 'homeland' it simply uses our soldiers to protect the neocon wet dream of a NWO that is not going to keep anyone safe.  

      When they talk of 'cuts' to DoD they turn their greedy eyes towards the people who fight their obscene wars. Cut's to vets should not be a bargaining chip. Soldiers should not be a 'profit loss' and more then cuts to the poor elderly and most needy among us in civilian life. They are so corrupt and immoral it makes my head spin.

      How to fix the deficit, end the wars and tax the rich.      

    •  GI's and benifits.LOL (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MBNYC

      Most people who have not put on the uniform don't understand the things a person who has served go through. You are owned by the powers that be.. that is what GI means.. government issue, you are nothing but a tool to be used just like a tank or a gun. Once you are used up you are sent to the scrap yard and they get a new one to replace you. It has always been that way, I know I enlisted in 1974 and served 4 years, lucky to not see combat. We should help our vets more, but it,s not going to happen until we get to the point where the people who start the wars like bush/ chaney/etc have SKIN IN THE GAME as the elite like to say. I would like to see a requirement for all serving members of congress and president must serve in the military and not like G.W. Bush did with his non-service/service. Thats is all.

      •  Better yet (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tfill
        I would like to see a requirement for all serving members of congress and president must serve in the military and not like G.W. Bush did with his non-service/service.
        ...their children.

        Fuck you, I put on pants yesterday.

        by MBNYC on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:26:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I can think of a fat target (18+ / 0-)

    that seldom gets talked about in budgetary terms—contractors. In all of those billions, there must be enough money to help pay veteran's benefits. If nothing else, charge them a windfall-profits tax. They made, and continue to make, a lot of money.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:24:31 PM PST

    •  Link-Defense contractors fight budget cuts (3+ / 0-)

      http://www.pogo.org/...

      In their campaign to stop reductions in Pentagon spending and protect their profits, big defense contractors are spending millions on studies, rallies, and lobbying Congress with the false claim that defense cuts will result in the loss of more than 1 million American jobs. But Pentagon contractors’ threats to send layoff notices to thousands of employees in the days preceding the Presidential election are political stunts. The public has a right to know the truth behind the rhetoric and fear mongering.

      "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

      by sceptical observer on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:35:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  certainly not 1 million jobs would be lost (0+ / 0-)

        but perhaps many tens of thousands, or even a hundred thousand or more, over the long term. But cuts in any program will likely mean job losses. We have to decide what our priorities are, and what we can do to strengthen the economy so that people who lose jobs can find work again.

        "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

        by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:55:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am surprised military pay is even 1/3 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sceptical observer, Coastrange

    of the Pentagon budget, given how much they spend on weapons.

    I think your idea of a special tax for military and veterans' benefits is not a bad idea, but I wouldn't call it a "war tax." That sounds like a tax to fund a war, which is something I would be very opposed to paying.

  •  Once again, Triple B is spot on! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, PSzymeczek, Portlaw
  •  if you said "servicepeople" and veterans (6+ / 0-)

    this would be clearer.

    I happen to think "the military"  gets benefits far beyond what we need to defend our country.

    The folks who do the work... not so much.

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:30:25 PM PST

    •  Servicepeople and veterans do not pay into the (0+ / 0-)

      system.  They just collect when they hit the 20 year mark.  
      I don't ever remember paying into any sort of retirement account when I was on active duty, yet I was told that if I stuck it out (I didn't) I would be entitled to PX priveledges, on-base gasoline, medical, dental and eyecare along with my retirement pay, which would be 1/2 my highest pay grade.  My two uncles, both 30 year lifers, enjoyed their benefits until their deaths.  Not a bad return for two guys, one retiring at 47, the other 48, who contibuted nothing, monetary, except putting their asses on the line for our country (both served Korea and Vietnam).

      "With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarky". - V.P. Joe Biden

      by Taxmancometh on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:01:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The last thing we should have on the table (7+ / 0-)

    are cuts to the men and women and their families who are on the ground and on the front lines for their country.  My brother has permanent physical and emotional damage from his time in the Gulf - he deserves so much more than what the Romeney-Cheney-Bush types have ever earned. Those shitbags aren't worthy of cleaning his boots.

    When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? Eleanor Roosevelt

    by seefleur on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:30:42 PM PST

  •  If there are a fixed amount of cuts, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Coastrange, argomd

    then by shielding the veterans in essence somebody else has to pay. Are vets more deserving than kids or old people or single moms or the handicapped or, well, anybody? Giving more to vets sounds very nice. But the truth is that it is a zero sum game, and somebody, somewhere is going to suffer more if vets get a larger slice.

  •  Pay for wars as we go along? (7+ / 0-)

    What a radical idea.

    Who would have thought we could fight two ten year wars by writing bad checks?

    Mitt Romney's moral compass points to the Cayman Islands.

    by captainlaser on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:36:25 PM PST

  •  Rumsfeld? The idiot who said that... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PSzymeczek, vzfk3s, Lily O Lady, grover

    ...people are "fungible"?

    The guy is still destroying lives through his legacy?

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:37:58 PM PST

    •  Defense Business Board (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener

      Is a Who's Who of military contractors trying to protect the bulk of the acquistition part of the Pentagon budget and financial industry titans who would love to get their hands on military retirement funds, and other foxes standing at the chicken coop door saying they alone know how the hens should be protected.

      In other words, Rumsfeld hasn't changed one bit. He just has more friends and he's trying to cash in on any connections he has left.

      He should be trapped and disposed of in an area where he can't harm anyone like the predatory varmint that he is.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:59:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Any comment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cany

    on the vote this week in the Senate to approve outsourcing of processing? I can't understand how Cronyn got that through!

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:39:24 PM PST

  •  In our ongoing battle to expand a viable middle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cany, Gooserock

    class - stopping financial cuts to vets and their families should be low-hanging fruit.  I said ... should be.

    •  The Present Battle is to Slow the Shrinkage of the (0+ / 0-)

      middle class.

      What's historically proven required to re-expand it is very radical policy.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:10:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  World Police Tax (5+ / 0-)

    The US spends more on defense than the next dozen countries combined.  One of the big beneficiaries of that are multi-national corporations.  Let them start paying a bigger share of that, rather than expecting US taxpayers to subsidize them.

    I would love to hear the talking heads mention just once when there is a discussion comparing US corporate tax rates with other countries, that other countries aren't funding the world police force.  

    •  We Could Help Them via Tariffs Which Would (0+ / 0-)

      improve another side of that problem at the same time.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:11:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sick of this (6+ / 0-)

    Cut the useless, overpriced F-35.  It's the F-111 all over again.  Cut one CVBG.  Cut some of the ridiculous benefits the generals get.  Cut something, ANYTHING out of the DoD before screwing over the guys carrying rifles, doing without their families and generally getting the shaft.

    I'm a mushroom. Kept in the dark and fed....you know

    by The Voice from the Cave on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:41:14 PM PST

  •  Disagree (5+ / 0-)

    i can't agree with this even a little bit. See here:

    http://www.brookings.edu/...

    Fact is, military pay is growing faster and higher than comparable civilian pay, literally not even including the more or less total lack of living expenses.  The health care is more or less free (which is appropriate for active-duty) for life (more questionable), including for dependents (way overkill).

    20 years is a very short career, the shortest of any i can think of in the known world, and then you get a pension for life. It's a tough job, but it's not the world's only tough job. And the toughness of it varies. between 1975 and 2001...

    last, but not least, our Armed Forces are insanely top-heavy, and the compensation for high officers is lavish enough to be mildly scandalous. I'm sorry, nobody needs a 300K/year pension for 60 years on a government dime. Nobody.

    At the very least, we could tier the system better so that this very, very generous system is reserved for those who have actual combat duty. Laugh off weapons programs and O&M, but if these costs rise constantly, budget for those fall every year in a flat budget. There's a relationship between that money and keeping soldiers safe. There's a case for keeping them safe with procurement on the battlefield, rather than paying for 100% of their healthcare for life, even after they seek other employment.

    Note that I'm for a shrinking defense budget. If you think you can shrink the defense budget drastically and take nothing out of this item, you're more radical than you think. Unless you want a procurement budget of zero. If so, come out for it.

    •  I agree for the officer ranks... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hoya90, LilithGardener

      ...and people should actually look at whogets military pensions and how muchthey get before opposing changes on a go forward basis. I hope someone has the guts to cut DoD deep and wide. Sure, salaries and benefits should come last, no reneging on past agreements, but I see senior level Marines retiring after 20 years with a 6 figure  pension only to do the same work as a private contractor for even more money.  

      I prefer a single equitable national social insurance (health and pension) for all Americans.

      Let all Bush tax cuts expire and , bring on the Sequestration cuts to defense.

      by kck on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:41:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  we've already got a "war tax" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, PSzymeczek, rsie

    fifty-three cents of every tax dollar goes to defense spending.

    The income tax is the only place where there's any progressivity in our tax code, and precious little at that--but nearly half that revenue is plowed into sustaining our military-industrial complex.

    How much of that money is spent on actual soldiers' needs and operations, and how much is spent on fancy new planes and fleets of drones and expensive, elaborate projects intended to line defense companies' pockets is something no one knows. But I'm guessing the distribution is very lopsided in favor of the latter.

    Compared to that, what's spent on veterans' benefits must be an infinitesimal fraction, and a shift of that infinitesimal fraction from military spending to the VA's budget to cover the rise in costs of veterans' care won't be missed by the defense companies.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:46:59 PM PST

  •  Wait - let repugs put them on the table first (0+ / 0-)

    before you take them off it.

  •  There's an old saying: What if they had a war... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, PSzymeczek, Egg, snoopydawg

    ...and nobody  came?

    Cutting benefits to military personnel may be one way to do that.

    And, personally, I do not consider commitments to the military families more sacred than commitments to pay the earned benefits of non-military retirees. No one was drafted into the military.

    But a deal is a deal. Are military benefits excessive? Should they be cut? I do not know. But I do not think it is right to go back on a deal. Any cuts should only be made to the benefits of people who join the military in the future.

  •  Audit?? (5+ / 0-)

    No one talks about the fact that DoD STILL hasn't given realistic assurances that the audit that was mandated in 1990 will be complete by the end-date of 2017.  Fat to be cut indeed....  but somehow, no one is talking about this. What can we do to make this part of the pushback?

    http://rt.com/...

    http://articles.cnn.com/...

  •  Can we please go back to calling (5+ / 0-)

    the defense department the Department of War?

    •  The Department of War Contractors (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Al Fondy, wsexson, snoopydawg

      and War Profiteers would be more accurate.

      •  This is what turned me into a Democrat (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greenbell, snoopydawg, LilithGardener

        I went into the Army in 1967 as a Republican.  I was at the Air Defense School in El Paso when I learned that a missile system that the Republicans were pushing would not and could not work: the ABM (Anti-Baillistic Missile).

        Then I was the pay officer at an air defense site where a great many privates were getting $97 per month.  Meanwhile the "gold-plated" weapon system, the Nike-Hercules was a system from 1958 that had already been bought and paid for after ICBMs made it obselete.

        Seeing the amount of money going to the military-industrial complex with my own eyes, and seeing the Republicans suceed in getting the ABM employed caused me to realize that the human side of the Army was totally secondary to war profiteering.

        Well, not exactly war profiteering because the real money is in weapons systems that are never used, but look good in a PR campaign.  It has only gotten worse as the years have gone by.

  •  How to cut pay and benefits fairly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg, VetSpouse1988

    End the wars and bring the troops home -- NOW. Savings: Instead of paying combat pay (non-taxable) and the costs of horrific injuries, PTSD, etc. etc., we would be paying regular salaries. Then add the savings from not flying people and equipment back and forth to the other side of the world, trucking in petroleum to run them, blowing stuff up, etc. etc.

    Then gradually reduce the number of troops, by attrition and fewer enlistments, because we're no longer sending them off to get blown up or blow other people up. Spend some money upfront helping them transition to civilian jobs and communities, with thanks for honorable service. But get them off the federal payroll.

    I don't know enough about the military to know this, but I suspect you could also cut the number of top brass sitting at desks at the Pentagon, and aides and service staff for them. I wouldn't mind if those people (the ones with large salaries and cushy benefits) got a smaller COLA.

  •  I have a suggestion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg

    Do not only what American voters voted for, but set that capital gains tax at 90%. Maybe that will rid us of bogus stocks and securities.

    No Jesus, Know Peace

    by plok on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:12:19 PM PST

  •  What they want to do (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady, grover

    is force servicemembers into the Thrift Savings Plan (the Federal version of a 401(k), like they did the civilians back in 1984.  TSP is subject to the whims of Wall Street.  I had to withdraw about a third of mine back in 2006 to avoid defaulting on our mortgage.  Starting at age 62, I'll get a whopping $162 a month from my TSP account.

    You can't keep a mighty tree alive (much less expect it to thrive) by only spritzing the fine leaves at its tippy-top. The fate of the whole tree depends on nurturing the grassroots. - Jim Hightower

    by PSzymeczek on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:13:02 PM PST

  •  I have a problem with your premise (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kck, limpidglass, snoopydawg

    I have found retired military the most vociferous in terms of wanting to gut Social Security and Medicare.  

    Unless Social Security is expanded to include Military base benefits (and perhaps some supplemental in the military budget for a 'service' retirement), and Medicare replaces TriCare, then I have a problem with taking military benefits off the table.  

    I want a Quid Pro Quo.

    I have worked hard all my life, over 40 years now, only to be wiped out in the last four.  (Yet I voted for Obama because I do understand where the problem lies.) You have Retirement for life after 20 years of service.  Then you can double dip with another government job so you have two retirements after 40 years.  The upper ranks live like corporate executives, and all too often seem to act like them too.  I, who paid for you all these years, now have nothing.

    I want a Quid Pro Quo.

    Unfortunately for the Military, its budget eats a disproportionate amount of the national budget, has better benefits, and greater guaranteed retirement and employs around 5% of the nation's population.  Look around, WalMart is almost bigger in terms of employees.  Until their benefits start coming up to yours, expect problems.

    Until the Military starts fighting for the 99%, I predict you will face a silent majority backlash to your resistance for a review of benefits.

    ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

    by NevDem on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:13:08 PM PST

    •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

      So why advocate reducing military retirement and benefits?  My spouse is an active duty soldier, I'm a veteran...we're fighting to keep the younger soldiers from losing the benefits they were promised when they joined, even though ours are pretty secure due to years of service.  He's probably what you'd consider "upper ranks" and we live far, far from the life of a corporate executive.  I'm pretty sure he doesn't consider the cot he just slept on for the last year to be especially luxurious.

      I don't understand why we all get wrapped up in the "them vs us" mentality...I want YOU to have good benefits at your job AND I want the benefits my spouse was promised.  I don't think he's an inherently better person or deserves more than anyone else, but he chose the job based on the benefits in part...he should get what was promised.  He passed up a vastly higher income in the private sector because he felt being in the military/national service was important and the benefit/retirement package helped balance out the actual and potential loss of income over his lifetime.

      The military budget is fat with contractors, useless weapons systems, overseas bases and Congressional pork projects.  Corporate America is destroying our middle class by attempting to balance the books of their failing enterprises on the backs of the workers that are the only reason they've ever seen any success.  And now you're advocating they do the same to military personnel instead of looking at and attacking the REAL reasons Defense eats so much of our budget.

    •  Retired military (0+ / 0-)

      who are Republicans. Those of us who are Democrats are all for Social Security and Medicare. As a matter of fact, my husband (retied Army) and I are all for Medicare for All! Everybody in, nobody out!

      "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 Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:19:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Same old, same old (5+ / 0-)

    The same thinking that permits a Walmart to pay its workers peanuts. Advantage of the powerful over the weak. If the US can't afford to pay its service men and women a good, not just a living wage, and if the US can't afford to award those service men and women and their families a health insurance program that is fair and reasonable, then we have no business keeping stations all around the world and fighting wars that can't be won.

    “The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we.” ― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

    by Miss Pip on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:14:55 PM PST

  •  Reduce the size of the military (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VetSpouse1988

    Cut the number of troops not the commitment to troops.  And the National Guard also gets screwed so using them to bulk up the war machine is no answer.  Reduce the imperial commitments.

  •  absolutely no war tax (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg

    Stop the wars immediately...I would never be in favor of any new taxes for ANY wars...no way...we have to de-fund these things in order for our society to ever progress...if we keep behaving as wild animals, we will never realize any potential that we might possess.

    The Universe is strange enough, you don't have to add hocus pocus

    by rsie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:18:58 PM PST

  •  The deficit is a consequence of insufficient (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg

    spending by Congress and hoarding by the private sector. So, the money isn't moving and the economy is sluggish. The Congress and the private industrial/commercial/financial sectors are stalling production, trade and exchange, but for different reasons. The Congress wants to demonstrate its power to make life miserable for citizens who aren't sufficiently subservient. Having over a hundred freshmen in the House after two elections has not imparted the message that the Capitol Hill Gang has to shape up. Rather, the time-servers are convinced that they have double down and assert their powers.
    Wall Street, on the other hand is waiting for a return of the good old days when they could expect to collect interest and dividends in excess of eight percent. The unearned income they can currently expect is simply unacceptable. So, they continue to hope that if they make money scarce, people will pay them more to borrow.

    How long will it take for the reality to sink in that trying to use the currency to manipulate the economy is a lost cause? Who knows? The problem with manufactured deprivation is that those who produce will eventually find a work- around. Once organized a black market or underground economy is very hard to revers. Just ask the Greeks.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:22:21 PM PST

  •  The problem, of course, is not veterans benefits. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, Sue B, snoopydawg

    The problem is the number of veterans, because we simply have a bloated military. I'm more of a "tonight we are at peace with the world" (Jimmy Carter) kind of guy I guess.

    However, veterans deserve the benefits they have been promised. Just like anyone who agrees to do a job deserves what's promised in return. I feel the same way about SS and Medicare: I was born after Medicare and Social Security was the law of the land. I was born into a social contract. I have paid into it my whole working life. Don't move my cheese. It's MY money!

  •  Military not sacrosanct (0+ / 0-)

    Coming from a military family where 11 of 15 have been at the nose of the spear since 1941 I have a lot of respect for them.  But unless you have a combat infantry badge (or service equivalent) you're nothing special.  A lot of people work tough jobs in tough conditions - yet do not merit a nauseatingly compulsive "we thank you for your service".

    You should bear in mind that unlike the military, other federal employees have not had a COLA for the past two years, and will likely not in 2013 either.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

    •  Oh they want to cut civilian pensions too (0+ / 0-)

      for federal employees.  All this BS about sticking up for the middle class.  Who are more middle class than public employees?  Darn few ever make it to that $250K tax limit.  I mean how are you middle class if you are a private physician or accountant making $250K but a moocher if you are making $75K as a VA nurse?  

  •  A step toward saving money at the Pentagon (4+ / 0-)

    There is tremendous waste at the Pentagon, probably 30% or more. For years, "national defense" has been equated with throwing money at the DoD, in spite of Eisenhower's prescient warning. The Global War on Terror is just the latest example. But any time a suggestion is made about reigning in defense spending the first reaction is that we will have to cut ships, troops, or airplanes. Or benefits for those who are serving or who have served. Nothing could be further from the truth. We do need a strong Navy; after all, we are a maritime nation. But we can also be secure at a fraction of the cost we are spending today. We will not have an empire but we will be secure.

    First, we need a Grand Strategy, in the Clausewitzian sense, and we don't have one. In fact, we have no idea what one is. Second, we need to ban flags and field grade officers from going to work for defense contractors after they retire. Is there a downside to this? Of course, but the revolving door of project managers going to work for the contractor they were working with just invites problems. Do you really think that wasn't discussed before the member retired? Third, we need to transfer back to the military many of the tasks that we have contracted out - particularly in the last dozen years or so. We used to have the finest logistics program in the world. Now we don't - it's largely been contracted out to Halliburton and the like. "Beltway Bandit" consultants and contractors fleece the country and kick back, in part, some of their fees via campaign contributions (bribes) to the congressmen that enable the arrangements in the first place. Civilian DoD employees have formed a bloated, self-perpetuating bureaucracy that wags the dog. Fourth, we need to bring back a national service draft at least in the style advocated by Tom Ricks. With the elimination of the draft we lost one of the last unifiers that this country had. We also lost a link with Main Street that kept this country from going to war without consequence for all but the 1% (the other 1%) that wear the uniform. We lost the link with Congress where sacrifice and service are abstractions and few have served in uniform. If we had a draft, people would have been in the streets as the obscenity of Iraq unfolded and the lost mission in Afghanistan has droned on. Patriotism is more than wearing a flag on your lapel. More than half my life was spent in uniform supporting and defending the Constitution of these United States and I can tell you that there is a lot more to national security than numbers of ships, tanks, and airplanes. We need a well-educated population and up-to-date-infrastructure. We also need a fine social safety net for those who need help through no fault of their own; right now the deck is stacked against Joe Average and a lot of people are hurting.

    Volumes could be written on how to reform the Pentagon and national security establishment. Set forth above, in my view, is only a start, just the high points.

  •  Military families say: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B

    "Don't balance the budget on the backs of the military."

    Retirees say:

    "Don't balance the budget on the backs of retirees."

    The middle class says:

    "Don't balance the budget on the backs of the middle class."

    The rich say:

    "Don't balance the budget on the backs of the rich."

    The poor say:

    "Don't balance the budget on the backs of the poor."

    If you're serious about the budget, you have to be willing to see your sacred cows get hit, at least a little.  Saying that everybody else has to take a hit, but not your favorite part of the government, is unreasonable.

  •  You are absolutely right. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WakeUpNeo, EclecticCrafter
    But before anything is proposed or negotiated with respect to military and veterans benefits, these matters should not be discussed in the context of deficit reduction. Our people in uniform deserve better than that.
    My son in the Naval Reserves is being deployed to Afghanistan the first week of January.  This is his second tour.  The last one was in Iraq.  You can NOT imagine how this impacts my family's life.

    It would seem that many Americans have forgotten that there are wars still on-going and being fought by our military.  We still have forces in Afghanistan, and though, inactive militarily, in Iraq.

    Damn it.  Don't forget them.  

  •  I like the idea of a war tax, but it would have (0+ / 0-)

    to have a sunset limit. The Hearst War, (also known as the Spanish/American war, also known as a grab for coaling stations), caused a tax on tires and phones that lasted at least 60 years after the war ended.

    "Anything We got, We Got The Hard Way" Mary Chapin Carpenter.

    by vzfk3s on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:41:22 PM PST

  •  What would you PUT on the table? Anything at all? (0+ / 0-)

    Anything????  Beuhler????

    Just askin'.

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:48:06 PM PST

  •  I wonder about all those veterans who (0+ / 0-)

    listen to Rush and Beck as well as those who have the TV's turned on to Faux, (I work on a base and it is on everywhere) going to do when they find out they are on the alter for the Billionaire's tax cuts?  After all didn't their candidate in '12 called them moochers?

    One does not simply walk into Mordor! One invites a gas driller in, and one’s land becomes Mordor. Chris From Balloon Juice

    by Mr Stagger Lee on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:52:16 PM PST

  •  military families can thank RW radio (0+ / 0-)

    not only was it instrumental lying us into iraq, limbaugh led the charge in convincing the tea party congress and their millions of constituent talk radio idiots that it would actually be good to default because it would finally force obama to make the cuts they wanted.

    team limbaugh is more responsible than any other factor for bringing on 'sequestration' and dems should be selling that- but they don't know it..

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:55:13 PM PST

  •  We don't need a grand bargaining table (0+ / 0-)

    And we don't need a grand bargain.  

  •  I couldn't agree more. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WakeUpNeo

    I'm very much opposed to the gigantic military machine, but pensions and health care are the last things to consider cutting.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:32:14 PM PST

  •  Let's see if I got this.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WakeUpNeo

    we fought wars for years on borrowed $$$$ and than we break our promises to the few in this country who have actually tasted battle while we were living in relative safety?
    And than that prick War Criminal Donald Rumsfield forms some sort of oh, je ne sais  quoi, a Blue Ribbon  Commission and says we should cut benefits for vets and their families?
    Hey asshole, how about cutting military contractors profits? There is the true starting point...

    What do we want? Universal health care! When do we want it? Now!

    by cagernant on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:51:42 PM PST

  •  Men and Women Veterans with Disabilities (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener

    living in the community have been determined to be at the top of the list among people seen as underserved groups among people with disabilities by the New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC) the last two years.

    I have a diary up on this:

    Are You Surprised? - A Snapshot Profile of People with Disabilities Among a State Population

    And this comment with further detail that pertains to the subject of this diary:

    Some additional details from within the report:

    If reality is any measure of need, then there should be no discussion of cutting Veterans benefits.

  •  How about a tax on guns and bullets? (0+ / 0-)

    That tax can help fund the pensions. As a matter of fact, how about we tax ALL munitions and implements of war?
    I, for one, will NOT pay a friggin' tax to fund war so it can go to pensions. I am against war. I was against Afghanistan and Iraq. I believe the lives we lost there were not for some grand and glorious reason, nor did it have anything to do with fighting for America or "for our rights and freedoms." They were sacrificed so the munitions manufacturers and the likes of Halliburton, KBR, and Xe (or whatever the fuck it's called now) could get very, very wealthy. They were also sacrificed so we could go in and steal Iraq's oil and possibly get that pipeline in Afghanistan finally built  (It's also why the Russians were there).
    I'm not heartless. I think they should be cared for. I think all vets, past, present and future, should get what they are supposed to get. NOTHING should be cut. In fact, their health benefits should be increased, especially for those injured.
    But I won't pay a tax for it. Let's get the money back from those who profited so handsomely.
    And another thing I'll bet is that pensions from the upper echelons aren't the ones that will get cut. It's going to be, as always, the lower ranks who get cut. Just like giving tax cuts to the rich while the rest of us foot the bill.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:06:42 PM PST

  •  Veterans are already left to twist in the wind! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener

    We are not doing enough for our veterans now, ANY reduction in benefits is unconscionable.

    Shameful...

  •  History suggests that a professional military, (0+ / 0-)

    isolated from and embittered at the rest of society is not healthy for continued civil government.  This is particularly true when the civil government appears to be failing and incompetent.  When our military was comprised essentially of civilians, performing a duty to their country, there was little chance of a successful military coup.  I think that is still the case, but trends of repeated combat tours in questionable wars, civil government at loggerheads, and reduction in military benefits and respect does not bode well over the long term.

  •  I read an alarming report a few years back (0+ / 0-)

    It described how military officers were going through Officer Training School, serving their required time in the military, then bailing for lucrative corporate positions.

    This drain is probably still going on, but this will simply exacerbate it.

    Who wants to dedicate your life to a nation that doesn't appreciate or value your service? And worse, paints you as part of the problem???

    As a veteran, I find this attitude despicable and incredibly stupid.

    THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CONTROL PEOPLE IS TO LIE TO THEM. You can write that down in your book in great big letters. -- L. Ron Hubbard Technique 88

    by xenubarb on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 08:53:58 AM PST

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