What the Debt Deal Means for MilFams

Part of the grand deal forged in Washington to avert the debt ceiling crises is a promise to cut as much as $850 billion over ten years from DoD’s budget.

While it may not end up being that much (go here for a full, very detailed explanation of the whole thing) we can go ahead and say one thing for certain: family programs will not be spared from the tightening belt.

As it always is with these things, no one really has a plan yet. Many of those details will be hammered out later this year. Others will become an annual battle.

Meanwhile, I have two educated guesses as to what will be the first to go:

  • Any MWR program not actively displaying its worth (in terms of use or cost to user ratio).
  • Childcare subsidies, with hourly care being the first to at least see big time reductions. You can also expect cutbacks to childcare at gym facilities. Full time care subsidies will also likely be reduced.
In the long term we will likely see a whole slew of other painful cutbacks, with virtually nothing except (perhaps) base pay kept sacred.  Some even think that the (terrifying) plan to combine the commissary and exchange systems will eventually become a reality.

What is almost certain is that any truly sweeping family spending cuts will probably not be proposed until after the 2012 elections – and not hit the ground until the 2014 budget. Axing family benefits for what everyone agrees is a strained fighting force is not good PR for a government official looking for reelection.

There is a lot of time between now and the 2014 budget discussions. As this blogger at DoD Buzz noted, yesterday’s cutback deal is probably not the end of the story – or perhaps not even the end of the beginning. And as Kate at Paycheck Chronicles stated, "Military families need to be aware that times are going to be tough and prepare appropriately."

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