By Brett Gillin
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, had some choice words to describe what the proposed budget deal means for our military retirees.
“Is the choice between keeping the government open and screwing all the military retirees? Is that the right choice?” Sen. Graham asked at a news conference on Tuesday. Sen. Graham has come out as a staunch opponent of the budget deal, adding during the press conference “Of all the people we could have picked on to screw, how could we have arrived here?”
What Sen. Graham is speaking of when she talks about the bad deal for military retirees is the stipulation that these retirees stand to lose a full percentage point from their cost-of-living raises when they retire. Even after 20 years of service, these cost-of-living raises will go down with the proposed budget. Already, the proposed budget has passed the House of Representatives, with the Senate vote expected this week.
As expected, thousands of military families and workers have come out in opposition to the new budget deal. As a result, according to this story on CNN, four Senate Republicans have now publicly said they were going to vote against the deal due to their opposition to the proposed pension cuts.
Even the top Republican on the budget panel, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, has come out to voice his concerns. Sen. Sessions said “I hope the Senate will move to address the unbalanced treatment of our service members before considering the legislation any further.”
The proposed cuts to military pensions will affect all military retirees under the age of 62, which according to experts, represents the vast majority of military retirees. Because most military men and women enlist in their 20s, they reach the “20 years of service” threshold in their 40s and are eligible for retirement. Very few people end up sticking around until they are 63 years old.
Furthermore, the proposed 1% decrease in pension could, as this story points out, equate to more than a 20% reduction in pensions over a 20 year period. According to the proposed budget, the cuts aren’t slated to begin until December of 2015, so optimists are hoping that this will give military groups time to convince Congress that action needs to be taken to preserve the pensions of our retired military men and women.