On October 31, the Center for American Progress, an influential think tank, released a report titled ‘Rebalancing Our National Security.’ The report calls for freezing future military pay raises, forcing working age military retirees to use employer-provided health care plans, and changing the current 20-year retirement plan to a 401K style pension program, which would make retirees wait until age 60 to start receiving it - this could affect anyone currently in the military with less than 10 years of service.
The report also recommends changing Tricare for Life coverage by making older retiree’s cover their first $500 expenses out-of-pocket and only cover 50 percent of the next $5,000 in Medicare cost-sharing.
The Military Officers Association of America responded with the following editorial.
MOAA Boos CAP Halloween Report
On Halloween, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released yet another report that is anything but a Halloween treat -- calling for huge cuts to military pay, retirement, and health care benefits.
Titled “Rebalancing Our National Security,” the report’s task force opposes the across-the-board cuts of sequestration, but suggests shifting more spending from the Defense Department to the State Department and Homeland Security. In CAP’s terminology, the intent would be to move from “offense” to “prevention” (non-military international engagement) and “defense.”
As part of that process, CAP recommends capping military pay raises, cutting troops assigned permanently in Europe and Asia, and scaling back military retirement and health care benefits.
Their retirement reform proposal is a retention-killing combination of the Defense Business Board and 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation recommendations. It would put new recruits under a 401K-like retirement system, and would grandfather only part of the current force.
Troops with 10 or more years of service could choose the existing plan or opt-in to the new 401K. Those with less than 10 years would have to choose the new 401K plan or be converted to a much-reduced retirement benefit that would provide 40 percent of basis pay for 20 years’ service…with payments delayed until age 60.
As if this doorstep gift bag were not sufficiently aflame, CAP would also cut back dramatically on TRICARE for Life coverage, imposing a $500 deductible and capping TFL coverage at 50% of the next $5,000 in annual health costs.
MOAA believes such attacks on career service benefits are reckless and misguided in the extreme.
They ignore that the current package of retirement and health benefits is the primary incentive to induce top-quality people to endure the extraordinary demands and sacrifices inherent in a 20-30 year career in uniform.
They also ignore that a far less-drastic retirement change imposed on new service entrants after 1986 had to be repealed after the Joint Chiefs of Staff complained it was undermining retention and readiness.
These kinds of trick-or-treat proposals would be ludicrous if the threat they’d pose to readiness weren’t so serious.