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Simpson-Bowles Could Mean Bad Things

August 6, 2011

Now that the S&P has (wrongly) devalued American credit to AA+, I’ve heard rumblings about instituting the Simpson-Bowles budget proposal. It’s pretty sound, as it requires cuts across the board (everyone shares the suffering) and increased revenue to the government, but there’s some bad juju in there for military, mostly because the talk is that there would be no grandfathering for those of us close to retirement age.

You see that up there? Military retirement would vest after 10 years, but you wouldn’t receive those benefits for a couple decades.

It sounds fair, since the retirement age thing is typical of civilian plans, and *ooh shiny* only ten years to earn it. Except for two glaring issues.

  1. Those who’ve joined the military, and those who’ve been drawing retirement, would be sucker-punched by this plan when suddenly they won’t see payments they’ve been banking on for several more years. It’s unfair to change the terms of a contract for folks who’ve planned according to the original terms. It’s doubly unfair to change those terms when the past decade has been a smorgasbord of war WTFkery, multiple and lengthy deployments, laughable dwell time, high danger, and personal expenses used to procure gear the military doesn’t always provide.
  2. This retirement deal might seem ducky to civilians, but they don’t make the same sacrifices. To be fair, that retirement isn’t just for the service member. It’s for the spouse who sacrificed a career and probably contributed unpaid (and expected) labor in an FRG, in entertaining, in “mandatory fun,” and in taking on full responsibility for a couple’s marriage with little or no help. It’s also for any sprogs that couple might have and the long weeks, months, or even years they went without seeing one of their parents.

If our government truly believes this retirement structure is appropriate for the military, I’d ask them make the same sacrifices we do.  Make them serve ten years before gaining retirement eligibility (it’s currently 5), and cut their salaries to match that of service members.

Also, be sure that our now-retired elected officials are subject to the same changes. If they want their pension and wouldn’t receive it under the new rules, they can run for office again, serve their time in their cushy Congressional chairs in their air conditioned Congressional spaces with nary an IED in sight.

Budget cuts are necessary. Revenue increases are necessary. But screwing with the lives and livelihood of those who’ve sacrificed an incredible amount is unnecessary and unconscionable.

ETA: I just ran across this petition. Sign it if you want military retirements preserved under the contract our service members signed.

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