Shortchanging those who fought for us
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, December 23, 2013, 4:05 AM
The wrong pound of flesh
In its rush to pass a budget deal, Congress voted to slice the benefits of veterans, even those who retire after suffering injuries while serving their country.
This unconscionable sneak attack on former members of the armed services was evidently inserted into the legislation by GOP House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan during talks with lead Democratic negotiator, Sen. Patty Murray. He ought to be ashamed.
The provision would cut veterans’ cost of living adjustments beginning in 2015 by $600 million a year — less than one-tenth of 1% of the $630 billion Pentagon budget. But the pain would be real. A senior enlisted servicemember who retired at 40 would typically lose more than $70,000 in benefit payments over the years.
Ryan’s breach of faith must be repealed in its entirety.
Confronted by widespread outrage, he insisted the cuts were a mistake — never mind that he has been a longtime proponent of making them. He said the issue “will be solved with the technical correction” when Congress returns next year.
Murray, for her part, promises a “fix” only to exempt disabled veterans. And, shamefully, there was no groundswell among either Democrats or Republicans for repeal. The best that Democrat Carl Levin, chair of the Armed Services Committee, came up with was a vow to review the matter.
To her credit, New Hampshire Republican Sen. Jeanne Shaheen offered a bill to revoke the cuts and to pay the costs by “eliminating a tax loophole for offshore corporations.”
The cuts must be revoked, not “fixed.”
Congress must act right away, so that veterans depending on their pensions to get by, and soldiers close to making a return to civilian life, do not have this uncertainty, and lack of generosity, hanging over their heads.