Saturday, November 5, 2011

Washington Perspective -- Hill testimony, Ad

AFA members, on Wednesday I attended a round-table discussion on Veteran’s benefits in the House of Representatives.  The meeting was chaired by Minority Leader Pelosi and was well attended by members of Congress – more than one dozen were present.  I sat next to two Members who are on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction [Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)].  The focus of discussion was wide-ranging.  We brought the following issues to their attention:
Military Retirement system changes [no changes for those serving, much study for the future force to see what the impact might be on morale, readiness, recruiting, and retention]
TRICARE and TRICARE-for-life fees [you cannot compare civilian medical plans with those who endured low-pay, wars, deployments, frequent moves, lack of careers for spouses, etc; the benefits were earned benefits that, many times, were promised to veterans]
Joblessness for Vets [higher than the national average – we need programs to address]
Suicide rates for military and vets [one vet dies every 80 minutes from suicide; need VA to fund programs to support]
SBP/DIC offset [there are 54,000 widows that give up some or all of their SBP payments – that they paid for – to receive DIC]
Disabled Vets [need access to training]
And a number of other issues.
[Thank you to Woody Hogle and the AFA Veterans and Retirees Committee for helping me get ready for meetings like this one.]
Here’s what I heard back:
  • VA funding will be protected from cuts in the Super Committee.
  • While everything is “on the table” the members of the Super Committee understand the differences between support for the military and the Pentagon budget.  All of them believe there needs to be more work before fundamental changes are made in Military retirement and TRICARE.
  • The “Doc fix for Medicare” – the Super Committee is looking at a permanent fix … but they need to find $300B to do that.
  • The Super Committee should go after much larger cuts than $1.5T – more like $4T.
  • Both the House and Senate passed a 3.6% COLA for retirees.
Secondly, AFA placed an ad in Politico and The Hill this past week [displayed below or click here].
For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association


Miles D. Dahlby, LtC(ret), USAF said...

While I appreciate your work to protect our benefits, I get this nagging sense that if our country goes bankrupt, all the benefits on paper will not be worth the paper they're written on. I'm more concerned with the survival of my country as a representative republic than I am about my benefits. Of all the people in the country who should rightfully get benefits from the public treasury it is disabled vets like me, and believe me, I'm grateful. But after having stood guard on the ramparts of liberty as a missile combat crew commander to protect my country from external threats, I'd feel terrible if I contributed to its internal collapse because I helped suck it dry. Therefore I suggest that my current veterans benefit and retirement pay programs remain unchanged, but that the amount of my benefit payouts be reduced by a small percentage, say 3.6%, and the savings verifiably put towards paying down our national debt until it gets to a safe level, namely below 60% debt ratio to GDP. My personal budget hardly notices the effect of a COLA increase, so I figure the same will be true of a COLA decrease. I sacrificed once for my country, and I'm willing to do it again, to lead the way for my fellow citizens to follow my example and "ask not what my country can do for me, but what I can do for my country."

Hubert Russell said...

OTC Dahlby has made a very sensible comment. However, USA taxes are pitifully at a low % of income since P Reagan and P bush II shifted the burden of taxation from the rich to the not rich. Prior to P ReaGaN, the top 1% owned 26% of the wealth of the USA. Now the top 1% owns 42% of USA wealth.
simply reinstate ALL of. the P Bush tax cuts, not just the part on those making over $250,000 (per P Obama) and you get $4 Trillion more Federal income over 10 years. That is almost twice what this committee is looking for.