CNN Report: Panetta to recommend effective pay cut for troops
Just days before he leaves office, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is recommending military pay be limited, effectively decreasing troop salaries next year.
Panetta will recommend to Congress that military salaries be limited to a 1% increase in 2014. The Pentagon has calculated that the Labor Department's 2014 Employment Cost Index is expected to be above 1% but wants to still cut back on pay because of "budget uncertainties," a department official told CNN. In 2013, a 1.7% increase was approved, based on the index, which has been the basis for military pay for the last several years.
Three Pentagon officials have confirmed details of the plan to CNN. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have also agreed to Panetta's proposed pay plan. Final approval for the pay would come from Congress in the form of the 2014 budget.
The recommendation is tied to the Defense Department's 2014 budget recommendation, which was expected to be sent to Congress this month, one of the officials said. But the officials acknowledge it is going to be seen as an effort to push Congress to stop the automatic budget cuts that could go into effect if no deal is reached on spending reductions.
Yeah, I don’t see that happening, Congress would never buy off on this one. You can tell from the tone of this discussion on CNN how well this might go over:
Now, almost two years ago (June of 2011) I wrote a nearly identical post. The only difference is that this time it is directly aimed at the “pay” portion, and not military benefits. (In other words, last time the DoD just wanted us to pay more for our healthcare.) Now, before anyone jumps to a specific political agenda, or a party involved, pay heed to what I noted then, that this is the same game the DoD was playing under the previous Administration:
Now, the main point of the MAF release seems to be that President Obama is behind this sudden perfidy to cut troops pay. While certainly Gates was working in his capacity of spokesman for the Administration in this regard, what is not mentioned is that this is the exact same debate that the Pentagon has been pushing for over the course of the LAST FIVE YEARS. It didn’t pop out this month from nowhere. I was listening to the same arguments from DoD actuaries that the military pay and benefits increases were unsustainable from the time I got back from Afghanistan and returned to following Armed Services hearings on the hill.
One question that invariably comes up whenever this is suggested is “What about Congress and other Federal Employees? Are they also getting pay cuts?”
It’s unlikely that lawmakers, who earn $174,000 a year if they don’t hold leadership positions, will see an extra $1,900 in their paychecks next year for a few reasons. While the methods for determining the annual pay raises of lawmakers and federal employees vary slightly, the two are tied. Lawmakers’ annual pay adjustments cannot exceed the annual base pay adjustments of General Schedule employees. (Lawmakers do not receive locality pay.) When Congress approved a two-year pay freeze for government workers beginning January 2011, it effectively froze its own pay. In fact, lawmakers have denied themselves pay increases since 2009.
This year is a little different. Lawmakers have remained silent in several spending bills over whether to grant feds a pay increase in 2013. The 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act allows the president through an executive order to set a pay raise for government employees if Congress doesn’t specify one and doesn’t pass legislation prohibiting it. None of the usual spending bills for fiscal 2013 in either chamber contains any provisions related to a federal pay raise. But they also don’t mention anything about an extended pay freeze either.
Unless both chambers pass legislation, either stand-alone or through the annual appropriations process, it will be up to President Obama to decide whether federal employees will receive a pay boost in 2013. Obama, who has until Aug. 31 to officially announce a proposed raise, has recommended a 0.5 percent bump for government workers next year. So if feds receive a 0.5 percent bump and Congress doesn’t specifically deny itself a raise, lawmakers also will receive a 0.5 percent raise in 2013.
I’m sure that The American Legion will have more to say about this ridiculous recommendation shortly, and I will update this post with that information when I get it.
UPDATE: Here's our press release on it:
Legion leader says “no” to military pay cut plan
The leader of the nation’s largest wartime veterans’ service organization, The American Legion, is taking strong exception to a recommendation by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that would effectively cut the pay of active duty military personnel. Panetta, in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, said he plans to ask Congress to limit troop salary increases to 1% in 2014. Since this hike is below the estimated rise in the cost of living for that year, the limitation would effectively reduce service members’ pay.
“This is not the way to go about saving money,” said James E. Koutz, national commander of the 2.4 million member Legion. “Making the men and women of the military pay for out of control spending by others is unwarranted, unfair and just plain wrong. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines deserve a raise to at least keep pace with the cost of living -- certainly not a cut. This unwise move would punish our service members for the sins of others.” Koutz also said that no federal employee should receive a higher increase than members of the military.
Koutz said he did, however, “agree wholeheartedly” with Secretary Panetta’s repeated warnings about the potentially dire consequences of proposed massive cuts in military spending. Panetta, who retires from office later this month, reiterated his anti-sequestration stance during his Georgetown speech.