Budget deal: Military benefits could be reduced

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 10:48am

The Senate is expected to pass a two year compromise budget deal today. It eases some spending cuts, but it also adds some, including a reduction to military benefits and that's causing major controversy, Dana Bash has more.

Retired Admiral Norb Ryan pounds the marble halls of Congress, refusing to give up, urging Senators to restore cuts to military pensions, in the bipartisan budget deal, "Soldiers are lucky if they're under the same roof as their family for 8 out of 36 months and they've done that for 10 years. They've paid an enormous price up front and this is really, really a disgrace."

As part of their budget, Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray decided to reduce by 1% the cost of living adjustment for military retirees who retire after 20 years of service, that's generally people in their 40's. It would go back up at age 62, it saves $6.2 billion dollars.

Right savings, wrong target, say some Republicans, Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R) South Carolina, "Of all the people we could have picked on to screw how could we have arrived here? How could we have done this?"

But Lindsey Graham's best Senate friend and military vet, disagrees, effectively asking how could we not?

Sen. John McCain, (R) Arizona, "In the words of former secretary of defense Mr. Gates said that these entitlements in the military are "eating us alive."

John McCain says this gives him heartburn, but noted military pensions cost $52 billion last year and skyrocketed 49% over a 10 year period, "We are going to have to look at this whole issue of the pay, benefits and retirement, and all of that of members in the military in a prospective fashion."

Norb Ryan of the Military Officers Association argues the average enlisted person would lose a total of $8,000, "A bucket of coal for this Christmas."

And, Graham, up for re-election in military rich South Carolina, admits they'll probably lose this battle, but vows to win the broader war, "We are going to remind people who you are and any politician who wants to do this again is going to get the hell kicked out of them."

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