Military Compensation

We just had a wonderful guest on the show (Gordon) and we talked a lot about military compensation. I am pretty sensitized to the subject and I studied it a lot when I wrote a book on the Federal Budget about five years ago. There are lots of people in Congress and within our government at all levels who will propose and fund projects like “The Impact of Swedish Massages on Rabbits” who will also argue that we should cut the pay of our men and women who serve in harms way. So when Gordon came on the show I was very excited to hear good news and at the same time prepared to raise my voice an octave or two if the news was bad. The outcome is obvious if you listen to the show. I was singing like a soprano. The news was all bad. If you ready to vote some of these crazy’s out of office, then listen to the show we did with Gordon Lubold on January 19, 2015.

During the show Lynda del Castillo shows me something and I look it up on the internet and I can’t believe my eyes. It says that John Podesta has started his own organization (even while he is serving in the current Administration) and one of his key objectives seems to be tearing down our armed forces by striking at morale and the paychecks of our young men and women in the service. When you cut someone’s pay in the manner that he appears to be proposing, every man or woman serving in uniform today will get the same questioning from their spouse; “And where will we get the money for the kids? The baby needs formula, John has to take his lunch already because we can’t afford $2.75 ever day for him to buy lunch at school and Sandy is not going to have anything decent to wear to church. What are you going to tell her? Does she have to wear the same dress she outgrew last year? Are you crazy? You need to get out.”

But John Podesta wants it this way and he doesn’t care about you or your spouse or your son or your daughter. He wants to tear away at the fabric of America. He started this radical organization called Center for American Progress (emphasis on Progress and Progressive, which is another word for Socialist or Anti American or Anti Capitalist) and the article I am reading is hateful and full of lies. It sounds so calm and reasoned to anyone who does not understand that he wants to destroy our armed forces by attacking the military family.

Here is his (John Podesta and the Center for American Progress’s proposal): Start with a lie. Start by telling everyone that the payroll for the Army and the rest of the services will eat up the entire DoD budget by some date, not too far out. Lie to the American people and tell them that the $107B ($180B including medical and housing expenses) or so that is paid to men and women who fight in places like Iraq and Afghanistan in 130 degree heat for years on end (14 in Afghanistan so far) will swell to over $500B (one of the recent estimates for the DoD baseline budget for 2015 not including $79B for OCO, and $26B for Modernization, Construction and about $15B for The Corp of Engineers or other approved bumps for contingencies, the war on ISIS or any of that). Can you see the lie in that? Do you believe that the DoD or the Congress is going to triple the paychecks or benefits of a private or a general in the US Army or any other branch of the service and even get close to eating up the entire budget? No of course not. But he planted the seed and now the talking heads in the liberal press are running around repeating what the Counselor to the President of the United States is saying, based on the credentials of being a former assistant to Bill Clinton and will soon be Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager or senior advisor. If Hillary Clinton picks him for this role, you can assume that Hillary is on board with the Center for American Progress and the proposal to cut military pay, benefits, housing medical etc. You can assume that Hillary Clinton, as in President Hillary Clinton (presumptive) will work tirelessly to force retirees to shoulder the burden of Tri Care. You can assume that she will follow the advice of the Progressive voices in the Center for American Progress, founded by John Podesta and push military retirement age out and increase the time in the service before any benefits for retirement accrue.

The media and organizations such as the Center for American “Progress” will repeat this lie so many times that some people, a lot of people, will be “Grubered” into believing that our men and women in uniform are being paid so much that it repugnant on one level and unfair to the average high school graduate on the other. A private in the Army may make as much as $17 per hour and she may get a food or a housing allowance for being forced to live in a place she did not choose. Is $17 per hour too much to pay for someone to be shot at or have their legs blown off or to take the life of another human at the point of a bayonet being so that we can sleep safely at night?

To drive home his point Podesta’s website says, “Since 2000 active-duty compensation has increased by 28 percent, with the cost per service member growing from $64,606 in 2000 to $80,292 in 2012. This is primarily due to repeated increases in basic pay authorized by Congress.” Do you believe that a Private in the US Army makes $64K per year or the average pay for anyone in he US Army is $80K? No way. And even if it were true, it took 12 years for pay to go up 28% or about 2% per year. A 2% per year pay raise is not obscene; it is rather average. And in no way does it point to a 300% increase in compensation over the next few years as outlined on Mr. Podesta’s website: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/report/2012/05/07/11573/reforming-military-compensation/ At 2% per year it would take over 100 years to triple compensation (150 years or so if you use Mr. Podesta’s math acumen).

BTW: There is another subtle lie that Mr. Podesta tells on his website. He says that Military Compensation has doubled since 2001 (right after he says it went up 28%). I don’t know if it has or not and I can look it up later. The point I want to make is this. When the DoD budget for personnel costs for 2001 was set, we were not fighting two full wars (Iraq and Afghanistan). To fight those wars troop strength was increased, reserve units were activated, national guard units were activated and combat pay was handed out as it should be. Thousands of civilian contractors were also added and it is hard to tell if Mr. Podesta is including this factor or not. All of the extra pay and special pay and benefits were also paid as they should be. An assessment was made of what the average soldier was being paid and it was found to be inadequate on many levels and was increased by an additional half percent per year for the last few years. So even if the amount that the DoD was paying out for this expense item increased significantly, the average private and the not so average general only got modest increases to their individual pay. Mr. Podesta would like for you to believe that someone doubled their pay and that is an absolute farce. It is a subtle lie.

Mr. Podesta wants to lie to you and tell you that our men and women in uniform get an allowance to pay for housing that is not the equivalent of the average American paycheck. Obviously he has never worked in the private sector. You have to pay someone more to live in New York than you do for someone to do the same job in Jackson Mississippi. I was on the radio with an expert who told me under very direct questioning what the average soldier gets for rent money in the DC area. He said the “thought” it was $3,500 per month. I liked our guest a lot, but I check with the DoD and I was directed to a website that is maintained by the Secretary of Defense that was appointed by President Obama, Chuck Hagel. He is a good man and does not lie. His official DoD website says that the Commandant of the Marines could get a housing allowance of about $2,500 a month, which was a thousand dollars a month less than the expert said. The Commandant gets a house at 8th and I so he does not actually receive any housing allowance. Considering the cost of a cheezy one bedroom apartment in Rockville, Maryland costs $1,400 and a decent three bedroom costs $2,600, a four star general could make it on his or her allowance for housing with not much of anything to spare except a little pride. But a private can’t. A private can’t make it in this area on their allowance for housing. A private gets $1,284. So a private has to take part of the kids lunch money to supplement the housing allowance to get into a cheezy one bedroom apartment. So Mr. Podesta is lying when he suggests by one means or another that our troops are getting too much for housing.

Ok Mr. Podesta (and the committee that is made up of the FOB’s (Friends of Barack’s in the case)), let me answer all of your questions about subsistence allowances. First, an Army troop, officer or enlisted is on the move all the time. They get up at 4AM or 5AM and by the time you get to the office and get a cup of coffee, these men and women have put in a full day of work and some of them have put in their first ground attack against the Taliban for the day. Around 9AM they take a break and see if there is something they can grab to eat at McDonalds our out of their back pack. If it is McDonalds or some other “Grab and Go” establishment, then it is going to cost $7 or more. Do that a couple of times a day for 30 days and run up $420 or more and you have done nothing to feed your family. Your food allowance is $325. That’s ok with Mr. Podesta and the Committee because they don’t care if you have to take money out of the kid’s lunch money to just get by. And they hate you so much that they will propose and possibly pass a new law that cuts your subsistence or food allowance so that your kids are forced to request free meals under the school lunch programs. That is the Progressive answer to all evils. Pay for it with taxpayer’s money. They don’t you mind being “Grubered”. As long as they destroy the fabric of the military fighting family they will do whatever Progressives and Socialists want or need.

Mr. Podesta and his allies in the struggle to defeat the US Military from within want you to believe that pay and medical benefits and retirement should be lumped into this thing called “Military Compensation”. Most Americans look at compensation as a paycheck, but human resource specialists know that “Total Compensation” goes beyond that. You can throw in the kitchen sink if you want to and label your employer’s contribution to your Social Security as part of your pay and technically you would be right. So in civilian land, where I spent the last 30 years as a manager or executive with lots of people working for me, I know all the elements of pay and benefits and when Mr. Podesta suggests that Army gets too much for retirement, he is smoking crack (right, I was talking about a schedule drug that is illegal). He is telling you a lie of monumental proportions and if he gets mad enough, he will break out charts and graphs to explain how that part of the $180B he is talking about is too much for retirement and in a few years we won’t be able to buy tanks or planes or ever fight a war because pay and benefits to the Army take the whole budget. He is lying. You would have to triple the pay and benefits of the Army to get to his figures. You would suddenly have to pay out another $320B in pay and benefits and that is not going to happen under any circumstance. So please stop listening to this idiot and start doing something to blunt his aggressive Progressive, Socialist behavior.

Here is another subtle lie that is perpetrated on the unwitting and misinformed American public by the Mr. Podesta’s Socialist Friends. They say “Congress also ignored the fact that the Department of Defense has met or exceeded its recruiting and retention goals each year since 2006, indicating that the compensation package was very competitive and allowed the military to maintain the force it required.” People like me and you say that there is no indication (as the Socialist’s put it) that military compensation packages have allowed the military to maintain the force it required. America is in a deep recession with over 20M workers underemployed. Under employment and unemployment and reduced hours and reduced wages have put more people in the military than the half percent pay raises our servicemen and women have received in recent years. The socialists will lie about anything to destroy America.

Here is another subtle lie in Mr. Podesta’s epitaph on the evils of rising military compensation. He starts by scaring you with a lie under the “Threat” fear factor when he says, “The threat that mounting personnel costs pose to military readiness……”. Then he says that unless something is done (i.e. cut military pay and or benefits) the DoD budget has to be raised. The opposite is true. Natural increases in the Federal Budget will be looked at for the DoD, but the DoD is smarter than the Department of Education. The DoD will look for ways to cut real meat from the bone, because it makes sense. I have a list. The DoD has a list. GAO has a list. CBO has a list. There are so many lists and we can certainly find the right combination of cuts to trim across all of the elements of DoD budget in a very sensible way. So I don’t think we will see the DoD budget go over $570B anytime during the next decade and I believe it will come down in real terms over the next few years. From what I can gather, it will be around $500B (the core budget, excluding OCO etc) with some puts and takes from different parts of the Federal budget.

The DoD has said, “Institutional reforms in the budget will save $18.2 billion in FY 2015 and an estimated $94 billion through FY 2019.  Efficiency actions include a 20 percent cut in headquarters operating budgets, reduced contractor funding, targeted reductions in civilian personnel, reductions in funding for defense support agencies, savings in military health care, and savings from deferred military construction projects and family housing.” Ok, that’s a good start. And the other lists have many more options to include fewer new tanks, less fuel expenses and fewer duplicative projects. It will all add up and our troops will get paid a fair amount. Mr. Podesta and his Progressive Buddies can go pound sand.

With the Socialists and Communists who hate America, there is an overarching, chalkboard screeching problem with military compensation. A tiny fraction is tax-free. As the Progressives vehemently complain, “service members also receive tax-free allowances for housing and subsistence, a variety of other tax breaks.” If nothing else, they want our privates and corporals and everyone else to pay taxes on their housing and food allowances. Why? Just because. Socialists and Progressives live to increase taxes, create taxes and hurt people who defend America in the process. The Progressives who run the Party of Disappointment love to talk about taxing the rich when they have their eyes set on taxing the poor, starting with every private in our armed forces. It is in black and white and they cannot hide behind anything on this one. This one fact alone should be talked about over and over when the Party of Disappointment brings up the subjected of soaking the rich to help the poor. It is a lie.

When I was commissioned into the Marines as an officer, I earned about $6,000 per year. My wife worked for a local company and earned $12,500 per year. As my pay increased to almost $8,000 per year, my wife’s pay went up to $25,500. I was earning one third of what my wife was earning for similar work (I was in communications and computers and she was a programmer). Back then the military was paid far less than our civilian counterparts. Now the Progressives are up in arms because they say that the tables have finally turned after 30 years of civilians being paid more than their military counterparts. As the Progressives put it, “By 2006 the average service member earned $5,400 more in cash compensation than a comparably qualified civilian counterpart, and the average officer earned $6,000 more than a civilian with similar education and experience.” If the Progressives have managed to not lie about this (doubtful) then Congress can stop the extra half percent bump in pay per year and after a few years everything will be back in balance. This is hardly and issue. And I doubt that I can find a credible source to back up their lies.

Now get this. Mr. Podesta jumps into a discussion of how the DoD had a good idea in 2013 to cut military pay. What Bull Crap. For Heaven’s sake Mr. Podesta, do you think we are as stupid as Mr. Gruber says we are? Here is what Mr. Podesta says about this great idea, “To its credit, the Department of Defense has attempted to tackle this problem in its FY 2013 budget request, outlining a plan that would gradually bring military pay back in line with the Employment Cost Index without cutting any service member’s pay, by slowing down military pay increases beginning in FY 2015. The Pentagon estimates that its plan would save $16.5 billion over the next five years. Congress should demonstrate political courage and allow the Department of Defense to execute this long-term plan.” The DoD is doing exactly what I am talking about. If there is a pay differential that is unjustified, then slowly cut back on the pay increases, starting with the extra half percent bump and bring things in line. But what Mr. Podesta wants is an outright pay cut and that must not stand.

If this sort of crap is not bad enough, Podesta wants to pass over $12B in costs onto the backs of uniformed members of the military and their dependents. He hides behind his own organization (Center for American Progress) as if he has nothing to do with them (even though he founded it and currently serves in a leadership role) when he says: “The military must also face the challenge of restraining runaway health care costs. As the Center for American Progress noted its 2011 report, “Restoring Tricare: Ensuring the Long Term Viability of the Military Health Care System,” the need for military health care reform is undeniable. Between fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2012, the military health care budget grew by nearly 300 percent and now consumes about 10 percent of the baseline defense budget. Most of this cost growth stems not from providing care for active-duty troops but from caring for the nation’s military retirees and their dependents.

Encouragingly, the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2013 budget request includes smart reforms to the military’s Tricare health care program that, if implemented by Congress, would be a first step toward restoring fiscal balance to the program. The Defense Department proposes to do the following: 1. Raise enrollment fees and deductibles for working-age retirees to reflect the large increases in health care costs since the mid-1990s, 2. Peg enrollment fees to medical inflation to ensure the long-term fiscal viability of the Tricare program, and 3. Implement an enrollment fee for Tricare for Life, a Pentagon-run plan which augments retirees’ Medicare coverage”. This is lunacy. We have lost 40 Vets in Phoenix alone by the scandal at the VA. The Congress just increased spending on Veteran Health Care so we can avoid this kind of unacceptable care in the future. Now the White House, through Podesta and his Progressive organization, is pushing to cut spending and transfer $12B to $15B onto your backs if you are a Veteran (excluding disabled Vets).

Mr. Podesta likes to use terms like “modernize, overhaul and reform” when he talks about military retirement. He actually means “cut, destroy, and pass the buck”. He wants to cut, cut, cut and he uses excuses like this to make his point (lies), “Due to the 20-year vesting requirement, Pentagon managers are reluctant to separate personnel who have served more than 10 years but less than 20, not wanting to leave service members without a job and retirement savings. As a result, the Defense Department is forced to either separate service members early in their careers or keep them until they reach 20 years, even if they are underperforming, unhappy, or ill-suited to the immediate needs of the military.” I don’t know of one man or woman who was ever kept on active duty for this lunatic argument made by Mr. Podesta. Maybe you do, but I doubt it. To say that the DoD is “Forced” to do anything like this is purely idiotic. Then Mr. Podesta piles on by saying, “Lastly, while the military’s retirement program serves only a small minority of the force, it provides an exceedingly generous benefit, often providing 40 years of pension payments in return for 20 years of service.”

Mr. Podesta uses his own facts, his own figures and his own assumptions to back his claims. How convenient. He keeps saying that it comes from the Center for American Progress, but that is his organization and he is a key figure in the day to day operations. That is a blatant attempt to hoodwink America. It is not allowable in my view of society and government. You need other references and major references when you are trying to rewrite the book (“reform” or “overhaul”) on military compensation. Since Mr. Podesta has fabricated his lies, you can’t check his numbers, but you can check mine at: http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=16567 . And if that is not enough then go to the White House website, OMB and look up “Tables”. You will find lots of easy to read spreadsheets of past and future budget proposals (and actuals). The facts are easy to find. The lies from Podesta and Jonathan Grubber are harder to understand and there is no source to back them up. They are just liars. They hate America. They can be stopped. You are the ones to do it. Write your congressman and tell them that you do not want any cuts in Military Compensation. Or call them at 855-827-2353 or 202-224-3121 or look up a more specific number by going to http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ .

I am not partisan. I am completely independent. We do not and will not pick sides. But we do support our Vets and military families. In the next election, please pay attention to who says what and who they pick to support them. John Podesta is not on your side. He has made that abundantly clear. Vote. First and foremost, get out and vote. And please vote to protect our military, our Vets and our families.

My Two Cents

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