Who is to Blame for Defense Budget Crisis?

Readers of Tom Philpott’s Military Update Column Sound Off

Just read your article on how political gridlock and budget sequestration are deepening the budget mess for our military.  Fair reporting, so thanks.

I would like to call into question whom to place blame for budget sequestration.  Congress didn't inflict this "crisis" on the military; the President did, when he decided to play chicken with the members of Congress.

I agree with the service chiefs' testimony that the sequester will damage military readiness.  In the end, not only will our national security be affected but military members, their families and the great American government service of civilians and contractors who support the military.

Thought-provoking article.

MARTIN J. WILSON Colonel, U.S. Army-Retired Carlisle, Pa.

President Obama and congressional leaders were foolish to include the mindless sequestration mechanism in the Budget Control Act, thus exposing defense accounts to $500 billion of arbitrary cuts over a decade if Congress failed to agree on a debt-reduction deal.

However, it was a congressional "super committee," created under that act and made up entirely of members of Congress, that could not reach a deal to avoid sequestration.  And why could it not?

In the view of many neutral observers, Republicans on the super committee deserve much of the blame.  They refused to budge on their pledge to a right-wing lobby group never to raise taxes or to close a single tax loophole to add balance to any debt-reduction deal.  Yet every bipartisan debt-reduction study or commission had called for a combination of curbs on entitlements and higher tax revenues.

Democrats and President Obama, for their part, had offered entitlement curbs.  In fact, one that the president endorsed, which some Democrats criticized, was to adopt the controversial "chain" Consumer Price Index for adjusting federal entitlements, which would have dampened inflation protection for government payments including Social Security benefits, federal pensions, military retirement and veterans' compensation.

Still, Republicans rejected raising revenues as part of any debt-reduction plan.  Even Rep. Harold "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, which is responsible for preserving military readiness, has refused to budge on raising taxes despite how this rigidity is devastating defense budgets.  In my view this has weakened his chairmanship immeasurably.  – Tom Philpott

It is a shame it has to come to this.

I am a retired Air Force officer, flew 100 missions over North Vietnam in F-4Cs, and feel for our country.  We are on the slippery slope to becoming a second-rate, if not third-rate, country.

As bad as it is now, wait until the Affordable Care Act is implemented.  Companies will hire more and more part time employees.  First-rate hospitals such as the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic will downsize. Doctors will stop practicing medicine, and our beloved military force will be decimated.

I feel the military chiefs pain. No wonder Putin is now in charge.

JOHN SLOAN Colonel, USAF-Ret. Via email

IS TRICARE FOR LIFE ENOUGH?

I'm a retired non-commissioned officer well into my sixties.  My wife and I are confused about our need for additional medical coverage.

We have Medicare Parts A and B and TRICARE for Life.  Do we need additional coverage because TFL will be cutting down on some services or not paying some bills?

Many military retirees in this might need some clarification on this.

Thank you for your column.  It always is understandable with no doubletalk.

JOHN S. PARISI, SR Colorado Springs, Colo. Technical Sergeant, USAF-Ret.

You don't need additional medical insurance.  TRICARE for Life will remain a golden supplement to Medicare.

That's not to say Congress won't, over time, impose some added fees on TFL beneficiaries.  Defense officials have been pressing for retiree fee increases for more than a decade.  No fee increases proposed, however, would necessitate you needing to buy additional health insurance coverage. – Tom P.

PRO-GAY MARRIAGE LEAVE

This was a wonderful idea by [Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel.  I feel those who oppose it are simply jealous, bored or bitter.

Homosexuals have had to sit back for years in silence, unhappy, and treated unequally.  Allowing them seven-to-10 days unchargeable leave cannot make up years to this type of treatment but it is a start.

I wish people could see this, rather than yelling, "Special treatment!"

Where were those complainers when homosexuals were getting kicked out for being who they are?

Get your heads out of your bottoms and think logically rather than critically.  I'm sure we have better things to bicker about than the happiness of others.

ASHLEIGH L. SUMMERS Senior Airman, USAF Via email

Holy Cow!  Sex discrimination has taken a whole new turn!

Instead of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, now it is now, "We will give you everything including free leave to get married.

I am heterosexual and did not receive free leave to get married.  So why should anybody?  If you give it to one, give it to all.

I am retired Navy.  I did not give special treatment to gays under my command.  I treated them the same as I treated the straight person standing beside them.

J. BLAUCH Data Systems Technician First Class, USN-Ret. Via email

Letters may be edited for clarity or length.  Write to Military Forum, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA 20120-1111, send e-mail to militaryforum@aol.com or visit www.militaryupdate.com

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