By Mike Cronin
In the article, he argues that since veterans have received substantial pay and benefit increases since 9/11, they should not be so testy about recent cuts to the cost-of-living raises for retirees and proposed cuts to commissary subsidies. I wrote the following response: (full disclosure: I am a military retiree).
Veterans aren’t selfish for wanting to keep the benefits they were promised and that they earned with their blood and sacrifice, anymore than any civilian corporate employee is selfish if they get upset when their company unilaterally cuts pay and/or benefits. Veterans understand the need for cuts and savings; they simply demand that ways be found to do it honorably. Regardless of how military compensation has increased over the last decade (those increases were meant to close a significant pay gap, by the way), there is no moral justification for reducing promised compensation to those who held up their end of the bargain. If cuts to military pay and benefits must be accomplished, it would be moral to make new promises to new troops (before they sign on the bottom line), but cuts could also come from other sources that are, at the moment, off the table.
We are in the current predicament because Congress has boxed the military in by not allowing more strategically considered fiscal savings, such as a round of stateside and/or overseas base closures, or cancellation of major weapons systems. It’s simply not politically expedient for an elected official to face their constituents and tell them the base is closing or that they won’t be needed to build ships, tanks, or fighters.
That political expediency is further exposed by Congress’ refusal to reign in the Fed’s “qualitative easing” to the tune of $85 billion per month. If we need to make spending cuts so bad, (and we do) how about we start by picking the ridiculously-low hanging fruit first and turn off the free-money tsunami?
So Mr. Thompson: who is really selfish? The vets who more than earned what they were promised through their sacrifices, or the politicians who make empty promises and no sacrifices at all?