Murray made the case to House Democrats that Ryan was proposing about a $20 billion cut to federal worker retirement programs, and she was pushing him to lower that number. After a series of back-channel talks with House Democrats, Murray and Ryan agreed to impose about a $6 billion cut in federal pension programs, and only new workers would be affected. Members of the U.S. military who retire before age 62 will also see smaller cost-of-living increases as part of the compromise.Politico makes it sound so tame. I don't want this to be an argument between federal employees and military service members. In my opinion, cutting pensions should be off the table, period. But one fact to point out is that the military cuts will hit those who are just about to retire while current federal employees will be grandfathered. Thus, the broken promise.
And the scariest part is we're afraid these cuts to COLA are only the first step. It's not unlike the threats to Social Security. Once Congress passes one set of COLA cuts, the next one will be easier.
The Pentagon has got to get the defense budget under control and they claim they can't sustain the benefits already promised to their retirees. Our Nation has chosen to go to war twice in the last 10 years and our Nation has chosen to have the largest and best equipped military in the world. And with that choice comes the responsibility to honor the promises made to those who signed up to serve.
Now the time is coming to pay for those promises and Congress is feeling a little sick to their stomach. They can't bear to make tough choices like cutting programs the military no longer wants and needs because they can't face the contractors. Instead of working to find reasonable, non-wartime substitutions for their communities, they'll just keep the perpetual war machine growing and screw over the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, and the Marines that have already served (shades of Eisenhower's warning here, don't you think). Congress is sending a very strong message: Troops that have already served just don't matter anymore.
Retiree benefits are the low-lying fruit. But once the low-lying fruit has been picked, you have to reach a little higher on the tree. What will be next?
Over the weekend, military families and their supporters have been busy contacting their Senators, writing the Chiefs-of-Staffs of their Senators, and just sharing ideas on how to stop this in its tracks. While we're doing our best to keep partisan politics out of the conversation it is becoming increasingly clear that Republicans are willing to back our fight. I've been gleaning info from news articles across the United States and Democrats are voting for the budget as is and Republicans are leading the threat to filibuster. Three prominent Republicans, Senators Ayotte, Graham, and Wicker have signed a letter to their colleagues saying they will work to find an alternative $6.3 billion to offset the COLA cuts. As a progressive, I am begging to hear a Democratic Senator join their pledge.
Today a new phase begins - military families and their supporters will be calling Senators offices non-stop today. Most of them will be expressing their displeasure with this provision but we could do much more at the same time. We can gather information. And with today's modern tools, we can do it very easily. With luck and a little persistence, we'll get a clearer picture of what is actually going on with the budget process and how likely it is we can get this change made.
If you're game, please pick up the phone. If you you're not going to make calls, at least support the effort by recommending this diary and helping it see more eyes. You did that for me last Friday and helped more than you can ever know. I'm depending on you to do it again. And the truth is that having a military wife writing from a progressive website helps within the movement. It's good for other military families to see that I not only write here but that I have a lot of support among DailyKos members. It doesn't replace the Democratic Senators, but it helps.
So lets get calling! This link gives you a list of all Senators' phone numbers in Washinton DC.
After you call and someone answers the phone, please try and ask to speak with the military affairs or veterans affairs aide:
Hi, my name is Angie and I'm a constituent of Senator SO&SO. I'd like to speak with the aide who deals with military affairs please.The odds are that person won't be available but you can get their name. And it gives you a future contact the next time we need to call. Yes, Congress will try to do this again within the next year or two.
So you're left with the staffer who answered the phone. That's okay! Just ask the questions:
Now that you've asked all these questions, give them your two cents! And make sure you let them know that you want your Senator to remove all language about military retiree pensions from the budget.
- Does Senator SO&SO support cuts to COLA for Military Pensions?
- If not, will Senator SO&SO work to remove that language from the bill?
- Will Senator SO&SO filibuster the budget vote?
- Will Senator SO&SO vote for the budget as written and passed by the House of Representatives?
- If not, why not? (it may not be COLA cuts but for some other reason and this can help us determine a better strategy latter down the road)
Believe it or not, this will probably take no more than 5 minutes. The calls usually go fairly quickly. After you're finished please visit this page:
This is a short survey asking your Senator's positions. It should be easy because it uses the exact same questions as above.
Now it's time to call your second senator and repeat!