Well, that is not exactly what they said but it should be. The title of the report Approaches to Reducing Federal Spending on National Defense uses Beltway jargon to mask the pain they recommend to inflict on military personnel and retirees. Typical of such Washington studies of recent times, is the focus on capping pay, while also boosting TRICARE cost sharing. Sure, there is one procurement item they threw in the report to trim to make it look balanced but who believes the Services will want to trade the Joint Strike Fighter for F-16s? Get real! The report fails to find any other savings throughout the massive DoD budget.
This new report by the CBO is a clear indication where Washington wants to target DoD savings: on active duty and military retirees. The takeaway is the Beltway messaging crowd has successfully convinced everyone in the Beltway the military personnel costs are exploding to the point of being unmanageable. Notice those that say such things dont provide empirical evidence to that assertion.
The Military Retirement Trust projected only 1.4% growth per year for the next 10-years in the last DoD Actuary report. Hardly an explosive situation. What the bean counters are afraid of is and few admit to is active duty pay is passing the 80% of what a civilian equivalent makes. The Washington elite want to trim that back so they can fund more hardware acquisitions. They could care less about recruiting and wanting to retain the best and brightest. I hate to say it but seems like breaking faith will be the norm.
The other expense the CBO recommends trimming is TRICARE. Costs have gone up for TRICARE over the years because the US pays higher prices for medicines and health care services than any other nation. The US government fails to negotiate medicine prices so we pay a lot more than Belgium, for example, for the same medications. Doctor fees are also way out of line compared to other countries. This is unconscionable, but you wont find such potential savings recommendations in the CBO report.
However, what the alarmists in Washington are basing a part of their venting is on a GAO report. The report had some old assumptions on pharmaceutical delivery costs. What is missing from this report is what is going in the pharma drug industry as a whole now. Their predictions are way off. Drug pricing has tapered off in recent years due to many factors, such as loss of patents and lack of innovation in the industry sector.
GAO should be challenged to make another study on retail drug pharmacy in the DoD to get a better gauge on actual costs. Dont count on it though. The old report will likely be used like a set of shears to make active duty and retirees pay more for their health care costs. This is on top of the cut in the military retiree COLA formula.
Washington wants everyone to believe the sky is falling and military compensation is off the charts. That is simply not the case by their own reports. The much bigger picture though is personnel accounts are targeted by the Washington establishment in order to pay for defense industry hardware. It is a zero sum arrangement after all.