I don’t mean to pick on Congressman Mike Turner; this is just representative of the problem:
This month, the House passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4310). As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I worked closely with members of the Committee to craft a bipartisan bill that advances our national security objectives, establishes a robust national missile defense, and ensures that veterans and their families maintain access to the care and benefits they have earned through their service. This bill protects veterans and military families from a proposal by the Obama administration to increase most TRICARE enrollment fees and co-pays, and prevents the Administration from implementing new fees.
Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, across-the-board cuts known as a “sequester,” are scheduled to take effect next January, due to the failure of the bipartisan “super committee” to agree on a plan to cut federal spending. I voted against this law, which raised the federal debt ceiling and created the so-called “super committee,” because these cuts would place our national security at risk and have a detrimental effect on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and our regional economy. Funding for the Department of Defense will be slashed by $500 billion, and certain domestic programs face an automatic eight percent across-the-board cut. The federal government must learn to live within its means and balance its budget, but our servicemen and women and their families need not shoulder the burden for Washington’s failure to budget responsibly.
Don’t tax you. Don’t tax me. Tax the feller behind the tree!
Look, I’d be happy this provision puts more money in my pockets, except for the fact that it’s the same process that has paralyzed our government in the face of trillion dollar deficits. We just can’t afford all the stuff we’ve been getting anymore, and to argue that the military should be exempt from cuts is wildly wrongheaded.
On the other hand, we have Obama, who thinks that only military benefits should be cut:
As reported here, the House Armed Services Committee recently forwarded the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013 (HR4310) to the full House for a vote. The bill added back many of the cuts proposed by the White House, and ignored the DoD’s request to increase TRICARE Fees for military retirees.
While most expect it to pass in the House, it is also assumed that the Senate will not pass the current version. And, of course the President would surely veto it if it happened to make it through the Senate. On Wednesday the Office of Management and Budget that confirmed that the President would veto the bill. The OMB statement states, “If the cumulative effects of the bill impede the ability of the Administration to execute the new defense strategy and to properly direct scarce resources, the President’s senior advisors would recommend to the President that he veto the bill.”
So President $4T-and-counting has decided that now It’s Time To Take A Stand against excessive spending?
Leon Panetta hasn’t covered himself in glory, either. On the one hand, military retirees should not expect to be insulated from skyrocketing health care costs, and indexing our Tricare premiums to those costs would be fair even if we weren’t facing a budget crisis. But Panetta’s defense of those cuts – “hey, you’re still getting below-market rates on healthcare!” – is disingenuous. Lifetime healthcare is part of our deferred compensation and has been, in one form or another, for a long while. Saying that Tricare fees are “below market” is to lower the bar considerably.