Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Senate Bill Cuts Veterans' Pensions; Democrats Block Fix

The new compromise budget deal worked out by Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington), after having passed the House, was discovered to have a provision to cut the pensions of military retirees and disabled veterans. 

The two-year budget agreement is to cut the benefits by some $6 billion over ten years from the pensions of this segment, by pegging any pay increase to the rate of inflation, minus 1%, affecting all military retirees under the age of 62.  Over the course of their retired life, retirees could lose up to 20% of their pension.
 
Sessions, Ryan, Murray
 
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) sought to force a vote on an amendment that would halt that provision, and instead close a loophole that allows illegal immigrants to claim an IRS credit for child welfare through the Additional Child Tax Credit.  The IRS paid out some $4.2 billion to people with invalid Social Security numbers in 2010, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration estimates that the payout this year to be some $7.4 billion. 

Senator Sessions' amendment was blocked by the Democrats in the Senate, with Senator Murray claiming that the move was a plot by the Republicans to kill the entire bill.  Senator Sessions replied,
By blocking my amendment, they voted to cut pensions for wounded warriors.  Senators in this chamber have many valid ideas for replacing these pension cuts, including my proposal to close the tax welfare loophole for illegal filers, and all deserved a fair and open hearing.  But they were denied.
 
Almost all Democrats voted along party lines to preserve the payouts to illegal immigrants, much of which goes outside the US, and to cut veterans' pay.  The lone dissenter from the Democrats was Senator Kay Hagan, whose state of North Carolina contains two of the largest remaining bases in the US: Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, along with a sizeable population of military retirees who tend to settle near military bases for access to retirement benefits.  Senator Hagan is up for re-election next year.

The pensions of civilian federal retirees are not affected.
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Update: From Congressman Ryan: A temporary fix has been applied that will delay implementation of the cuts in order to give a special commission on military pay and benefits time "to find a better solution."

4 comments:

  1. We need to add a requirement that every candidate for office, in any American election, MUST have either for-profit business experience or military experience. Those with both should be declared the winner, automatically. Then, the executive branch should be limited to two departments, with the mandate that one of them must be Defense.

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  2. The Democrats haven't been the friends of veterans since the end of the Vietnam War. But I'm surprised at Ryan, who apparently help write it, and the House Republicans who either didn't read it or didn't care about it. Still, when only about 1 percent of the population serves, no pol is likely to pay for this at voting time. If this keeps up, and it probably will, conscription is going to have to come back.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. I can't, as a staunch Libertarian, support mandating military service....but I do view it as [and am absurdly biased as a Veteran] the epitome of civil service. If the government/Administration wants to downgrade the retirement and veterans benefits available to those who risked their lives in the service of it....then do so by codified law beginning only upon the passing of such law.

    Do not play political shell games and breach the contracts and the trust of those who have defended you.

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