This October it was not the upcoming Halloween that was on everyone’s mind. Nor was it the culmination of a magical season by the bearded Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately it was the government shutdown that had everybody talking. Though an agreement was reached in time, it was not before veterans were seriously concerned over whether their November checks would arrive on time.
We all agree that we don’t want to have to go through that again. In order to ensure that, though, budgets must be passed in advance. The Senate is hoping to pass a proposal by the end of the day Friday when the holiday recess arrives. The current proposal, being pushed hard by Senate Democrats, is not favorable to military retirees.
In order to save money, it has been proposed to reduce the cost-of-living increase for military retirees under 62. Last Wednesday members of the Military Coalition – 33 veterans and military advocacy organizations – wrote a letter to the White House calling the proposal “an egregious breach of faith” driven by “an arbitrary deadline so that Congress can go home for the holidays.” It has been estimated that the proposed 1% cut in the annual inflation calculation for retiree pay will cost a typical retired officer more than $124,000 over 20 years and a typical enlisted member $83,000 over the same amount of time.
One of the budget committee chairs, Sen. Patty Murray, said that veterans “want to know there aren’t going to be furloughs, layoffs and cutbacks that are dramatic to the issues they care about.” While this may have some truth to it, making military retirees pay for it, to the tune of $7 billion over 10 years, cannot be the only solution. There seemingly would have to be other options. The question is whether Friday will get here with a vote before such alternatives can be found.