Government Promises….

Top Democrats said they would revisit the cut, which raises $6 billion over 10 years, before it takes effect in two years. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash. — Ryan’s negotiating partner on the budget agreement — was grilled by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., on whether she knew the cut could reduce by $80,000 the lifetime benefit of a soldier who retires in his or her early 40s.

“I would suggest the senator ask that question to Chairman Ryan,” Murray said. In a document defending the cut, Ryan’s staff called pensions to middle-aged military retirees “an exceptionally generous benefit, often providing 40 years of pension payment in return for 20 years of service” and noted that “most begin a second career after leaving the military.”

SOURCE: Bipartisan budget agreement nears final passage – Yahoo News.

I believe that one of the major fiscal problems with our current deficit stricken government is that they promise way too much to those who won’t collect on those promises until the person who voted for the bill is long gone from congress. Providing a lucrative 40 year pension for 20 years of service is definitely one of those things. This is way beyond what those of us who spent 30+ years in the private sector could ever hope to get.

I know that cutting benefits to anyone is onerous but it is especially so for our soldiers.  When this cut was announced there were an infinite number of criticisms shouted across FaceBook pages. They typically showed a severely injured soldier in uniform and then shouted “How can we cut benefits to someone who has given so much for their country!!” I certainly agree with those feeling but for these cuts that is certainly not the case. Disability benefits will continue for those maimed in our many wars but for the 97% of our soldiers who went through their service with no injuries, they will have to face the reality that our country just can’t afford the very lucrative pensions that many may have promised.

Of course lucrative public employee pension benefits go way beyond the military. There are many public employees who have been promised sizable future benefits for sacrificing some current pay. This certainly includes postal employees, police officers, and firemen as well as a many of others. We simply can’t afford to continue to dole out future lucrative programs that put the expenses onto future generations.

It is not often that I agree with Mr. Ryan but in this case I think he has it right.

7 thoughts on “Government Promises….

  • This pension cut does not address anyone but the military- even if your comments do. Do you have a pension, or provided with enough income to develop a pension? How would you feel if your benefits were changed after you worked the amount of time (or project) required?
    Military pensions are different. If you leave before 20 years, you get nothing. There is no matching 401k. The average pension of the less the ten percent who retire is about $25,000 a year. The proposed cuts will only hit the soldiers who have served in THIS war. A war supported by both sides of the aisle ( continuing today). A war that stretched soldiers to the limit because there are not as many of them as the conscript army of our last wars. And BTW – this will hit anyone who was medically retired and survivor spouse and children of those KIA.
    My husband (over 62) will not be touched.
    I talk to loads of soldiers. This warns the volunteer army that they are not important. As much as you would like to see the military disappear, most think it is important. Are we ready to return to the conscript military? I assure you, the industrial machine would rather go with robots. Is that your thought?
    But then , what do I know?

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    • Janette, I knew that I could count on you to have issues with this post but I stand by what I said. Let me address some of your complaints.

      * I agree that military should have a 401k. For me and most others in the private sector that was 3% of salary if I also put in 3%. It is a known fact that defined pensions are pretty much gone from the private sector. They have been replaced by the 401k. While I don’t like that trend it is what is happening. Maybe the military pensions should follow that trend?

      * You say if you leave before 20 years you get nothing but the data I see from http://militarypay.defense.gov/retirement/ which is a military site says you get 25% of final pay for 10 years and 37.5% for 15 years. I expect this is somewhat like the private sector where you don’t get it until you turn 65 but you do get it. My wife worked for 22 years for a large corporation but quit at age 50 and got less than 10% after age 65. I personally after 31 years get about 25%. Those are big differences from the chart shown on the cited URL. And they also get a COLA which I or most from the private sector don’t get. If I were to have spent my 30 years in the military I would get 75% which would be over 90% with the COLA instead of the 25% I do get. That is a massive difference and can’t remotely by made up by my voluntary contributions to a 401K — So I stand by my claim that military pensions are way out of whack with the private sector whose taxes are funding them.

      *The primary purpose of pensions is to give someone a means of surviving when they can no longer work. I am one of those people. To give a 38 year-old a nearly full pay pension for the rest of his/her life drastically moves outside that parameter and we simply can’t afford to do that much longer.

      * Our soldiers should not think that they are unimportant simply because they need to share some of the things needed to reign in our massive overspending as a country. The rest of the population has been hit by this necessary reduction. Why should the military be immune?

      * I know this is a sensitive issue for you but I really don’t want to see the military disappear. I just want it to reflect what the rest of the world spends. If it did that it would be very much smaller but would definitely not disappear.

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      • You must be bored. My son just got back from Afghanistan, so I have some time to play.

        1) There is no objection to changing retirement for those entering. They will know what they are signing up for.
        There is still no 401K match. The military was not even given permission to save in the government system until about eight years ago. Tat would be a good start.
        As long as no promises are made, none are expected. Military people tend to be back and white. Tell me the real scoop…is mantra.
        When my husband returned to the military ( Special Forces medic in Vietnam, university, returned for17 more years) the way retirement was changed. He knew that coming back in. This plan is for people under 62 who are already retired as well as the people who signed up under the pension.
        You do know, btw, that anyone who retired can be recalled to duty until 62. A number of our friends were recalled during Iraq. People can also be kept in against their wishes and were.

        2) You are looking at the plan for reduction of forces (cutting 1/3 of the standing military by 2018). Those people who are being given an out packet because of the draw down are given a parachute- hence 10 years/. 15 years. They are selected. If you choose to leave without being selected, you get nothing. The Air Force is asking people if they are interested in the packet. The Army is not.
        They can also be recalled if they take the packet.

        3) I am sorry you do not get COLA. I understand you were never promised COLA? That can be a bit different don’t you think? I am sure you and your wife worked many 18 hour shifts with no bonus or extra compensation…
        And as far as a 30 year career – you are now comparing yourself to a smaller (and sometimes larger) Corporate CEO. Wow! You are pretty impressive and really got screwed.
        A 3o year career is a command Sgt. major/ full bird or general/admiral. They would (at this point) probably served in Korea, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. They probably also pulled at least one tour in Columbia, Somalia, Djibouti, Morocco, the Old Congo, Middle East, Uzbekistan. (Or one of the many stans) – of course without family (or cooks, since those are contract now so no mess halls). They often command 2,500- 10,000 soldiers at a time. Most have masters and/or PhD. How big was your department that you were in charge of? How many life decisions did you make ( you started the comparison thing)?
        Currently, my son (7 years) commands about 500 people- and equipment amounts that makes my head spin. He is called on the carpet if one of the spouses needs help and does not get it. He delivers the news of something goes wrong. A chopper goes down…Really, you have NO clue.

        4) You have a different interpretation of pension- but that is not surprising. You did, btw have the opportunity to serve your country and make “the pension” – but which one is that? .

        5) The military gets it. Health care is being cut. Housing. Moving allowance (still required to move/ not paying for those moves), Commissary . We are STILL in a war. My son lost four friends two months ago. First people called for Russian Olympics? That would be the military.

        Last, more then half of the military is filled with soldier’s children. Most of my friends discourage serving any longer then four/ five years any more. There is a large feeling that the military is being given the lip service they were given after Vietnam. ( you lived through that). Our kids have served (which we feel is the Main reason to join), gotten great discipline and training ( less training these days).
        My son in law makes triple what he did in the military- with a 401k. He funds their IRAs / 529 with his quarterly bonus. Yes, compensation is very different then what you got before pensions disappeared. He will make plenty to retire with 20 years without a pension. Too bad the military lost his skills.
        I have my opinion on if my son should continue- but know it is his choice. I know he is a moral man- the type the military needs.

        Want to cut the military? Start with the Abrams tank. Really? Start with pension. That is just spitting on their service- because we know it is the tip of the iceberg.

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        • Talk about being bored. Wow.. No, I did not have the opportunity to serve. I was given a 4F rating in my draft physical in 1969 due to my hearing impairment. It does sound like there is a different mentality in the military than in the private sector.

          I am sorry that the military, at least as you see it, feel they are getting picked on. But welcome to the club. The other 90% of the population has felt that way for decades.

          I was in charge of 100,000 people…. Really you are comparing apples to oranges and somehow figure your apples are much more important than my oranges… But I did design equipment that made 250 million people safer so that must count also.
          Enough, I have to watch some TV now….

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    • Sorry I didn’t go over the particular points you wanted in your comments. I tried to hit on the topics I thought were germane. Maybe in the future if you have particular points to discuss you should keep your comments focused on them so that get attention.

      You gotta admit you kind of rambled with this round. Not, unlike me I guess. 🙂

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  • I read an article recently that pointed out how seperated the military are from the rest of the population, resulting in mistrust, misinformation, and miscomprehension. Sounds like that is a correct assessment. One thought was that if we had a system that required everyone to give service of some kind at some time that we would all have a better understanding of what it means to serve. We would all be participants and not just observers and critics. Although, the word “draft” brings up visions of Vietnam and that is a scary scenario.
    Full disclosure…I would be among the ranks who do not fully understand how the military works. I am merely throwing this out there as food for thought.

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