The "Trashing Tricare" article, and fee increases
Thanks to a solid assist from Drudgereport yesterday, the TRICARE fee increase plan from the DoD is big news today, warranting a ton of emails to me from just about everyone....
The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.
Many in Congress are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place.
Now, for a good primer on the subject, you should read what Bruce McQuain has to say over at Blackfive... The only problem I have with all the renewed attention isn't that any of it is wrong, or that the outrage isn't warranted (it is) but rather that everyone seems to be acting like this is something new, when the DoD has been playing this game for a LONG time now. And the Congress every year basically tells them to find a new way of dealing with it. Now, the threat this year may very well be elevated over what it has been in the past, but it's still the same scheme, re-imagined as a budget balancing measure.
As I had noted earlier when a hyperbolic fund-raising email made headlines by blaming the President, I boted that this is actually the Pentagon more so than any specific President:
The point of this is largely that MAF is focusing on this round of a recurring message, without acknowledging that it is the same message we’ve been hearing on Capitol Hill since long before President Obama was elected as Commander in Chief. Although I empathize with any argument against lowering the pay and benefits of service-members, to lay this all at the feet of the President is to ignore the history of the preceding five years.
Even if one is predisposed to believe that President Obama is the villain-in-chief, I still don't get the timing of this. As can be noted by looking at Legion Press Releases, we've been tracking this for almost a month. As we noted back on the 30th of January:
With the Pentagon’s release of a five-year budget plan that cuts $260 billion in defense spending, The American Legion is pressing Congress to find other ways by which to reduce the country’s staggering $15.2 trillion debt.
Over the next decade, defense spending must be cut by $450 billion as required by the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last August.
“Congress failed to act last year when the Supercommittee failed to cut more than a trillion dollars from federal budgets,” American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong said. “Our congressional leaders must find the courage to act this year before our national security pays the price with further cuts to defense spending.”
“Washington still has time to make this right,” Wong said. “It needs to take another look at non-discretionary spending and leave the DoD budget alone. After all, what good are entitlements if we can’t defend our own country?”
Pointing out that President Obama just pledged a month ago to “keep our Armed Forces the best-trained, best led, best-equipped fighting force in history,” the top leader of The American Legion warned that if the administration’s 2013 defense budget is enacted, America will once again return to a hollow force.
“To keep the best fighting force, you must recruit and retain the best people,” National Commander Fang Wong said. “By increasing, and in some cases, quadrupling health insurance fees for military retirees, you are sending a powerful message to those in uniform and to their families that their decades of service and sacrifice are unappreciated. Moreover, most believe that the Retirement Modernization Commission that this budget recommends will lead to a 401(K)-type plan, which will encourage people to leave the military for a safer and less demanding career in the private sector. ‘Grandfathering’ benefit cuts merely tells tomorrow’s veterans that their service isn’t as valuable as those who served before them.”
The budget for 2013 represents an 8 percent cut from 2012. In October, the 2.4 million member American Legion passed a national resolution which called on Congress and the White House to “cease all efforts to reduce the defense budget from its current level.”
So again, get mad, Lord knows I am reading about it. But bear in mind that the DoD has been talking this same game for years. Stay on target, pressure your Reps to reject this plan. Focus on blame after we block this nonsense.