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One in three lawmakers wants to repeal cuts to military pensions


Welcome and thank you for stopping by. Please be aware and advised, this is a CONSERVATIVE BLOG.

 

Here is some information and my rules:

1) I do not like Liberal Ideology;

 

2) Conservatives have the voice of reason on my blog;

 

3) I will delete any comments that are abusive, non-related to the “blog theme” and not debated in a civil manner;

 

4) I welcome input from all walks of life.

 

However, this is my blog and I will make the “ultimate” decision on any/all comments.

I encourage “civil” discussion. We may not agree on “ideology”.

 

However, we can agree on “respect” and at least listening to different perspectives.

 

Thank you for visiting!

 

Reblogged from:http://thehill.com/blogs

Posted by:Jeremy Herb

Getty Images

More than 150 House members and 35 senators have signed onto efforts to repeal the cuts to military pensions included in the budget deal signed last month.

Roughly a third of lawmakers in both chambers have sponsored or co-sponsored 15 different bills. All the measures seek, one way or another, to repeal the reduction in the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for working-age military retirees.

The flurry of bills and number of co-sponsors highlights the sizable bipartisan opposition to the military retirement cuts that were included in the budget deal reached by Budget Chairs Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

But none of the bills introduced has identified a true bipartisan “pay-for” to replace the retirement cuts, raising doubts about the chances of any of them passing.

The only legislation that has attracted significant bipartisan support does not replace the $6 billion that was saved in the budget deal through the military retirement cut.

“People are allowed to go out there and say what they want, but it is not going away,” said a leading conservative strategist who is a deficit hawk. “How are they going to pay for it going away?”

The budget agreement signed into law last month provided $63 billion in sequester relief over two years and achieved $85 billion in deficit reduction, including $6 billion from reducing COLAs by 1 percentage point below inflation for working-age military retirees under age 62.

The military pension cuts attracted swift condemnation from service and veterans’ organizations, who have launched a full-court lobbying press to get Congress to reverse the provision.

The effort has spawned more than a dozen bills. In aggregate, those measures have been backed by 94 House Republicans and 64 House Democrats, 12 Republican senators and 23 Democratic senators.

Many of the lawmakers voted for the overall budget bill that quickly cleared both chambers last month.

Even so, the bills that offset the $6 billion savings do not appear likely to attract bipartisan support, making them long-shots to pass both the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House.

Democrats in both chambers have signed onto measures that would replace the retirement cuts by closing offshore tax loopholes for corporations, a non-starter for Republicans.

The GOP bills target a number of cost-cutting issues. They would prevent illegal immigrants from claiming a child tax credit, make cuts to the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, replace the COLA cuts with the Pentagon’s unobligated balances and stop aid to Egypt and Pakistan.

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced a bill to restore the savings through limiting Saturday mail delivery.

No Democrats have co-sponsored any of those measures, with the exception of Rep. John Barrow (Ga.) backing the child tax credit pay-for in Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick’s (R-Pa.) bill.

The bill with the most support was introduced by House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), which has 95 co-sponsors, including 32 Democrats.

That measure simply repeals the $6 billion cut to military pensions. But defense observers are skeptical Congress would pass legislation to undo deficit reduction already in place.

One senior defense lobbyist said the budget deal included all of the “low-hanging fruit” when it came to deficit reduction, making it unlikely that the COLA cuts would easily be replaced.

The military retirement cuts were one part of a carefully crafted deal, which also included reductions for civilian federal worker benefits.

“It’s all political in an election year,” the lobbyist said of the repeal bills.

“The ones the Democrats are offering to close corporate tax loopholes — Republicans are never going to go for that… The same thing on Republican side with credits for illegal immigrants. They know it’s not going to fly with the Dems.”

BOHICA the military takes it again.

House and Senate leaders have not said whether they plan to bring up any bills to restore the military benefits cuts.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) did not include the military pension issue in his January legislative agenda. A Senate leadership aide said retirement benefits legislation would not be considered next week, and could not elaborate beyond that.

One House aide said that leadership may be waiting before making a decision on the retirement benefits to see how strongly the issue resonates back in lawmakers’ districts.

“If members come back and go to leadership and say they’re really getting hit on this, leadership might be in a mood to adjust it,” the aide said. “If they come back and there’s not as much passion behind it, that tells you it will be a completely different story.”

There is likely to be at least one change made to the retirement benefit cuts: exempting medically retired veterans.

There have been an additional four bills introduced to address that issue, including from Murray. Both Murray and Ryan say that disabled veterans were included in the budget deal due to a “technical error” and they want to quickly fix the problem.

A list of the various bills offered to repeal the military-pensions cut can be found here.

— Erik Wasson contributed.

http://thehill.com/blogs

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Hypocrisy of Hollywood Liberals


 Welcome and thank you for stopping by. Please be aware and advised, this is a CONSERVATIVE BLOG.

 

Here is some information and my rules:

1) I do not like Liberal Ideology;

 

2) Conservatives have the voice of reason on my blog;

 

3) I will delete any comments that are abusive, non-related to the “blog theme” and not debated in a civil manner;

 

4) I welcome input from all walks of life.

 

However, this is my blog and I will make the “ultimate” decision on any/all comments.

I encourage “civil” discussion. We may not agree on “ideology“.

 

However, we can agree on “respect” and at least listening to different perspectives.

 

Thank you for visiting!

 

Reblogged from:http://patriotupdate.com

 

Posted by:David L. Goetsch

It stands to reason that most Hollywood actors, directors, and producers would be liberals because Hollywood is all about fantasyland, that place that does not exist but where liberals are most comfortable.  There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part Hollywood is synonymous with liberalism.  I do not begrudge Hollywood types their political views, but I do wish those views were better informed and less hypocritical.  What chaps me about Hollywood is that it is filled with people who are quick to criticize the very nation that made their stardom and financial success possible.

Think about it.  Actors are entertainers.  They make their living doing the same thing little children do: playing let’s pretend. They do not invent new technologies that improve the quality of life.  They do not conduct agricultural research that feeds starving children in faraway places.  They do not start companies that employ hundreds of people and give them a chance to be self-supporting.  Hollywood actors—no matter how good or bad—are just entertainers.  They inhabit the land of fantasy.  No matter how much we enjoy a given movie, in the final analysis it is nothing more than a brief vicarious diversion from reality.  Of course, those of us who have real jobs and real lives can use a little vicarious diversion every now and then, so movies can serve a positive purpose.  But people who watch movies and those who make them need to remember that movies are just that: movies.  They do not convey upon those who make them any special knowledge or insights into politics.

Hollywood gives actors fame, money, and an audience.  There is nothing wrong with any of this. But fame, money, and an audience are assets that should be used responsibly.  This is where I part company with the majority of Hollywood actors, directors, and producers.  Some of the most irresponsible, hypocritical public statements on socio-economic issues are made by Hollywood actors whose knowledge of the subject in question is thinner than a sheet of paper.  For example, actor Marin Sheen decries the wickedness of corporate America but acts in movies developed, produced, and paid for by corporate America.  Hollywood movie studios and production companies are corporations.  In fact, they are some of the most entrepreneurial corporations west of Wall Street.

Director George Lucas made not millions but billions from his movies, yet he is a critic of what he calls “capitalist democracy.”  He would prefer a socialist democracy.  What hypocrisy.  George Lucas made his billions from the most capitalistic, entrepreneurial business in America.  In fact, a substantial part of his fortune was earned from retailing movie related merchandise.  Actor Russell Brand favors a “socialist, egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth.”  Well Russell, if you are so interested in redistributing wealth get out your checkbook.  There are charities galore just waiting to hear from you.

Brand is typical of the hypocrites now so closely associated with Hollywood. They want to redistribute all of the wealth of the world; all of it that is except their own.  If you have grown weary of the hypocrisy emanating out of Hollywood, I can recommend a book that will make you feel better.  Hollywood Hypocrites was written by Jason Mattera.  Mattera makes his living confronting Hollywood hypocrites with their own hypocrisy.  Here is an example of his good work: Mattera confronted Harrison Ford who was spouting the usual Hollywood tripe about global warming with the fact that he owns seven airplanes; a fact that gives Harrison a carbon footprint bigger than Al Gore’s ego.  Congratulations to Jason Mattera.  It’s about time someone held Hollywood actors accountable for their hypocrisy.

Read more at http://patriotupdate.com/articles/hyposcrisy-hollywood-liberals/#z2iuhqw8pHqiDkbw.99

 

The Schizophrenia of Barack Obama


Welcome and thank you for stopping by. Please be aware and advised, this is a CONSERVATIVE BLOG.

 

Here is some information and my rules:

 1) I do not like Liberal Ideology;

 

 2) Conservatives have the voice of reason on my blog;

 

 3) I will delete any comments that are abusive, non-related to the “blog theme” and not debated in a civil manner;

 

 4) I welcome input from all walks of life.

 

However, this is my blog and I will make the “ultimate” decision on any/all comments.

I encourage “civil” discussion. We may not agree on “ideology”.

 

However, we can agree on “respect” and at least listening to different perspectives.

 

Thank you for visiting!

 

Reblogged from:

http://www.americanthinker.com

 

Posted by:Steve McCann

Barack Obama is a man with only one core conviction.  He has, as the basic foundation of his otherwise disorganized and uncertain belief system, the irrefutable tenet that the United States, because of its European roots, has been the epitome of oppression and arrogance throughout its history.  Therefore, he is able to rationalize the need to say or do anything as the transformation of American society and the end of the pre-eminent status of the United States are his sole objectives.  He has, thus, adopted a pre-meditated schizophrenic personality wherein he comports himself as an apologist and appeaser on the international stage and a narcissistic autocrat at home.

The autocrats that ran roughshod throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century were determined to aggregate power in a central authority and to achieve an exalted position for their countries.  Barack Obama, on the other hand, is determined to denigrate and diminish the stature of his nation as he otherwise emulates the tactics of these despots.

Beyond his one immutable and core tenet, Obama wavers between acceptance of hybrid fascism with its emphasis on crony capitalism and inflexible government dominance of the individual and the economy on the one hand, and on the other post-World War II European-style socialism rather than rigid socialist/Marxist ideology.  This may be anathema to the hard core left from whence he came, but little do they understand that Barack Obama is driven by retribution not ideology.

After five years, Barack Obama has gone a long way in accomplishing much of what he set out to do, namely, the end of the pre-eminent status of the United States and setting the stage to even the score with the European descendants that dominate American society.

Barack Obama began his presidency by donning the hair shirt and groveling before the nations of world begging forgiveness for what he perceived to be the sins of America’s past.  It is America’s enemies and their loud and false protestations that frame the basis of Obama’s outreach and appeasement mindset.  This servile mindset by Barack Obama has projected an image of weakness which begets chaos, and chaos is what the international scene has become whether in the Middle East, Asia, Russia or Latin America.

Barack Obama, determined to become the Muslim world’s best friend, has instead unleashed the dogs of war in the Middle East.  With the latest agreement in hand, he has essentially told Iran they are free to develop enriched uranium through the most difficult and time-consuming stages,  and to meddle, unchallenged,  in the affairs of Lebanon and Syria as well as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.  He has given tacit support to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in their confrontation with Israel as U.S. policy is to browbeat and intimidate the Israelis into accepting any agreement with them, all the while insisting on Israel’s acquiescence to Iranian nuclear capability. 

In an eerie replay of history, the Middle-East has become the Balkans of 1912-14, wherein any inadvertent action or misunderstanding could trigger not only a regional but global conflict.  Whereas the spark that initiated World War I was due to the egocentric and nationalist ambitions of many European countries, the underlying factor of any major war in the Middle East will be the abandonment of American resolve and the deliberate erosion of its economic and military power.

Beyond the Middle East, Russia and China are more emboldened than ever, openly mocking the United States and its leadership.  China has begun acting as if it were already the pre-eminent power in East Asia.  Russia has succeeded in intimidating the United States into abandoning a crucial missile defense system, thus allowing Russia a free hand to effectively reconstitute the old Soviet Union while browbeating its neighbors in Europe, and more recently becoming a major antagonist in the tinderbox that is the Middle East.

Seventy-two months ago Barack Obama officially declared his candidacy for President.  Only now are a few within the mainstream media and ruling elites in America slowly awakening from their self-induced infatuation and beginning to understand who he is.  It has become difficult to totally ignore the lawlessness, overt intimidation, demagoguery and outright lies spewed forth by Obama relative to the passage and implementation of ObamaCare.

However, this pattern has been repeated consistently over the past five years in his dealing with the American people as Barack Obama has followed in the footsteps of those 20th century despots resolved to accumulate power.

1.     Obama has been determined to keep the populace in a constant state of turmoil.  He has endorsed the escalation of vitriol aimed at inciting retaliation against the tea party movement, Republicans and conservatives.  In an effort to promote class strife, the demonization of the wealthy has never been so sustained and blatant. The incendiary charge of racism has become the default accusation directed at anyone disagreeing with Barack Obama.  As a result, racial animosity is approaching levels not seen since the 1960’s.

2.     He has created a de facto secret police through the use of the Internal Revenue Service, the EPA and other government agencies to intimidate and harass his political enemies and to browbeat the American citizens into acquiescing to his edicts and demands.

3.     He has actively bypassed Congress governing by presidential fiat whether in the case of illegal immigration, the environment, labor statutes, and presidential appointments or by simply ignoring whatever laws he chooses.

4.     He is a firm believer that no lie, in the advancement of his agenda, is too egregious to tell, no strategy to destroy one’s political enemies is out of bounds, and the creation of false crises and faux enemies is not only legitimate but essential for the implementation of his plan to transform and denigrate America.

5.     He has an unrelenting willingness to use and discard people.  Throughout his life Barack Obama has used and manipulated the gullible into being foot soldiers for his personal ambitions — whether an entire race of people (African-Americans) by playing on his skin color or the elite ruling establishment wallowing in “white guilt.”  The Hispanic population has become the latest group to be manipulated in an effort to turn them against the rest of the populace utilizing the wedge issue of amnesty for illegal immigrants.

6.     He is someone who would willingly inflict pain and suffering on the American people in order to permanently destroy his political enemies and accumulate near dictatorial power for the government he controls.  Barack Obama’s megalomania does not allow him to care a whit for the citizenry or the long-term future of the country he pushing into bankruptcy or the nation’s ability to survive in a hostile world.

Despite the debacle that is ObamaCare, there remains a stubborn unwillingness on the part of far too many to recognize what motivates Barack Obama.  Perhaps it is unfathomable to them that they could have been wrong about someone who was the epitome of their superficial ideal candidate.  Perhaps they are blind to the danger because of the belief that this country, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of mankind could ever be brought to its knees by anyone. However, that someone is Barack Obama.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/the_schizophrenia_of_barack_obama.html#ixzz2mZZThcUG

Obama to Force Military Families Away From Tricare …By Tripling Their Fees.


Welcome and thank you for stopping by. Please be aware and advised, this is a CONSERVATIVE BLOG.

 

Here is some information and my rules:

 1) I do not like Liberal Ideology;

 

 2) Conservatives have the voice of reason on my blog;

 

 3) I will delete any comments that are abusive, non-related to the “blog theme” and not debated in a civil manner;

 

 4) I welcome input from all walks of life.

 

However, this is my blog and I will make the “ultimate” decision on any/all comments.

I encourage “civil” discussion. We may not agree on “ideology”.

 

However, we can agree on “respect” and at least listening to different perspectives.

 

Thank you for visiting!

 

Reblogged from: conservativeinfidel.com

 

Posted by: Benjamin Franklin

 

Military-families-181x300

via ijreview

President Barack Obama has said on multiple occasions that he stands by the troops, and lauds their selflessness in fighting the Iraq war and the conflict in Afghanistan. During a time when our bravest in uniform have been in a state of war for more than a decade, one would think that our fearless leaders should reward their efforts by making life a bit easier at home.

Instead, Obama simply insists on tripling their fees on the military health insuranceprogram called Tricare.

What is the administration’s reasoning on this? Well, they actually admit that Obama would rather the troops partake in ‘alternatives’ that were established in the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare). In a report from the FreeBeacon.com, Bill Gertz states:

Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.”

This is quite a telling move by the Obama administration, due to the transparency in a letter written to congress, as the FreeBeacon.com further reports:

The Administration is disappointed that the Congress did not incorporate the requested TRICARE fee initiatives into either the appropriation or authorization legislation,” the White House wrote in an official policy statement expressing opposition to the bill, which the House approved in May.”

So, what are these ‘fee initiatives’? The Bill Gertz goes on to say,

Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.

According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.

The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.”

Essentially, Barack Hussein Obama would rather force military families to partake in Obamacare welfare-backed programs rather than using Tricare, and he had hoped to do this by tripling their premiums in just 5 years.

All the while, the report states that Obama leaves his true friends, the ‘unionized civilian defense workers’, unscathed by tax and premium hikes:

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 sad part of this tale is that Barack Obama clearly has no loyalty to his country, his ‘friends’, and most certainly the troops that would carry out his commands without question for the love of their home. It is clearly only profit and power that pulls him out of bed in the morning, and lulls him to sleep at night. How so?

We already know that upon the passage of Obamacare that the market reacted by tanking 1%, while certain public sector insurance companies, hospital firms, and pharmaceutical manufacturers significantly increased in share prices. We already know from leaked Pfizer lobbyist memos that they were going to pledge $80 billion to Obama’s reelection efforts if he were to pass the ACA. So, essentially, the fact that Obama’s action of forcing military families away from Tricare and towards these public sector insurance ‘alternatives’, shows who he really serves. …just a hint, it’s not you or anyone in the military.

That’s correct, he serves the unionized defense contractors (as long as they serve him in return), and he serves public sector companies and Wall Street-owned major medical companies, like Pfizer (also… as long as they serve him in return).

In the closing, Patricia Campion of Yahoo News writes these insightful words:

As commander-in-chief, I want every veteran to know that America will always honor your service and your sacrifice — not just today, but every day,” the president said in November. “And just as you fought for us, we’re going to keep fighting for you — for more jobs, for more security, for the opportunity to keep your families strong and America competitive in the 21st century.”

Of course, he forgot to warn them he was about to kick their existing health care insurance plan so far out of reach that they’d be forced to grab the plan that 53 percent of Americans want repealed for survival.”

Thanks for selling our bravest down the river, Mr. President …you’re a great guy

 

Obama to Force Military Families Away From Tricare …By Tripling Their Fees.


Welcome and thank you for stopping by. Please be aware and advised, this is a CONSERVATIVE BLOG.

 

Here is some information and my rules:

 1) I do not like Liberal Ideology;

 

 2) Conservatives have the voice of reason on my blog;

 

 3) I will delete any comments that are abusive, non-related to the “blog theme” and not debated in a civil manner;

 

 4) I welcome input from all walks of life.

 

However, this is my blog and I will make the “ultimate” decision on any/all comments.

I encourage “civil” discussion. We may not agree on “ideology”.

 

However, we can agree on “respect” and at least listening to different perspectives.

 

Thank you for visiting!

 

Reblogged from:FreeBeacon.com

 

Posted by:Benjamin Franklin

.

Military-families-181x300

President Barack Obama has said on multiple occasions that he stands by the troops, and lauds their selflessness in fighting the Iraq war and the conflict in Afghanistan. During a time when our bravest in uniform have been in a state of war for more than a decade, one would think that our fearless leaders should reward their efforts by making life a bit easier at home.

Instead, Obama simply insists on tripling their fees on the military health insurance program called Tricare.

What is the administration’s reasoning on this? Well, they actually admit that Obama would rather the troops partake in ‘alternatives’ that were established in the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare). In a report from the FreeBeacon.com, Bill Gertz states:

Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.”

This is quite a telling move by the Obama administration, due to the transparency in a letter written to congress, as the FreeBeacon.com further reports:

The Administration is disappointed that the Congress did not incorporate the requested TRICARE fee initiatives into either the appropriation or authorization legislation,” the White House wrote in an official policy statement expressing opposition to the bill, which the House approved in May.”

So, what are these ‘fee initiatives’? The Bill Gertz goes on to say,

Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.

According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.

The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.”

Essentially, Barack Hussein Obama would rather force military families to partake in Obamacare welfare-backed programs rather than using Tricare, and he had hoped to do this by tripling their premiums in just 5 years.

All the while, the report states that Obama leaves his true friends, the ‘unionized civilian defense workers’, unscathed by tax and premium hikes:

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 sad part of this tale is that Barack Obama clearly has no loyalty to his country, his ‘friends’, and most certainly the troops that would carry out his commands without question for the love of their home. It is clearly only profit and power that pulls him out of bed in the morning, and lulls him to sleep at night. How so?

We already know that upon the passage of Obamacare that the market reacted by tanking 1%, while certain public sector insurance companies, hospital firms, and pharmaceutical manufacturers significantly increased in share prices. We already know from leaked Pfizer lobbyist memos that they were going to pledge $80 billion to Obama’s reelection efforts if he were to pass the ACA. So, essentially, the fact that Obama’s action of forcing military families away from Tricare and towards these public sector insurance ‘alternatives’, shows who he really serves. …just a hint, it’s not you or anyone in the military.

That’s correct, he serves the unionized defense contractors (as long as they serve him in return), and he serves public sector companies and Wall Street-owned major medical companies, like Pfizer (also… as long as they serve him in return).

In the closing, Patricia Campion of Yahoo News writes these insightful words:

As commander-in-chief, I want every veteran to know that America will always honor your service and your sacrifice — not just today, but every day,” the president said in November. “And just as you fought for us, we’re going to keep fighting for you — for more jobs, for more security, for the opportunity to keep your families strong and America competitive in the 21st century.”

Of course, he forgot to warn them he was about to kick their existing health care insurance plan so far out of reach that they’d be forced to grab the plan that 53 percent of Americans want repealed for survival.”

Thanks for selling our bravest down the river, Mr. President …you’re a great guy

 

Trashing Tricare


Welcome and thank you for stopping by. Please be aware and advised, this is a CONSERVATIVE BLOG. Here is some information and my rules:

1) I do not like Liberal Ideology;

2) Conservatives have the voice of reason on my blog;

3) I will delete any comments that are abusive, non-related to the “blog theme” and not debated in a civil manner;

4) I welcome input from all walks of life. However, this is my blog and I will make the “ultimate” decision on any/all comments.

I encourage “civil” discussion. We may not agree on “ideology”. However, we can agree on “respect” and at least listening to different perspectives. Thank you for visiting!

This is a Reblogged from http://freebeacon.com 

Posted by Bill Gertz

Obama to cut healthcare benefits for active duty and retired US military

 

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.

“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”

Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

“When they talked to us, they did mention the option of healthcare exchanges under Obamacare. So it’s in their mind,” said a congressional aide involved in the issue.

Military personnel from several of the armed services voiced their opposition to a means-tested tier system for Tricare, prompting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to issue a statement Feb. 21.

Dempsey said the military is making tough choices in cutting defense spending. In addition to the $487 billion over 10 years, the Pentagon is facing automatic cuts that could push the total reductions to $1 trillion.

“I want those of you who serve and who have served to know that we’ve heard your concerns, in particular your concern about the tiered enrollment fee structure for Tricare in retirement,” Dempsey said. “You have our commitment that we will continue to review our health care system to make it as responsive, as affordable, and as equitable as possible.”

Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.

Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.

According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.

The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.

The changes are worrying some in the Pentagon who fear it will severely impact efforts to recruit and maintain a high-quality all-volunteer military force. Such benefits have been a key tool for recruiting qualified people and keeping them in uniform.

“Would you stay with a car insurance company that raised your premiums by 345 percent in five years? Probably not,” said the congressional aide. “Would anybody accept their taxes being raised 345 percent in five years? Probably not.”

A second congressional aide said the administration’s approach to the cuts shows a double standard that hurts the military.

“We all recognize that we are in a time of austerity,” this aide said. “But defense has made up to this point 50 percent of deficit reduction cuts that we agreed to, but is only 20 percent of the budget.”

The administration is asking troops to get by without the equipment and force levels needed for global missions. “And now they are going to them again and asking them to pay more for their health care when you’ve held the civilian workforce at DoD and across the federal government virtually harmless in all of these cuts. And it just doesn’t seem fair,” the second aide said.

Spokesmen for the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not respond to requests for comment on the Tricare increases.

The massive increases beginning next year appear timed to avoid upsetting military voters in a presidential election year, critics of the plan say.

Additionally, the critics said leaving civilian workers’ benefits unchanged while hitting the military reflect the administration’s effort to court labor unions, as government unions are the only segment of organized labor that has increased in recent years.

As part of the increased healthcare costs, the Pentagon also will impose an annual fee for a program called Tricare for Life, a new program that all military retirees automatically must join at age 65. Currently, to enroll in Tricare for Life, retirees pay the equivalent of a monthly Medicare premium.

Under the proposed Pentagon plan, retirees will be hit with an additional annual enrollment fee on top of the monthly premium.

Congressional aides said that despite unanimous support among the military chiefs for the current healthcare changes, some senior officials in the Pentagon are opposing the reforms, in particular the tiered system of healthcare.

“It doesn’t matter what the benefit is, whether it’s commissary, PX, or healthcare, or whatever … under the rationale that if you raise your hand and sign up to serve, you earn a base set of benefits, and it should have nothing to do with your rank when you served, and how much you’re making when you retire,” the first aide said.

Military service organizations are opposing the healthcare changes and say the Pentagon is “means-testing” benefits for service personnel as if they were a social program, and not something earned with 20 or more years of military service.

Retired Navy Capt. Kathryn M. Beasley, of the Military Officers Association of America, said the Military Coalition, 32 military service and veterans groups with an estimated 5 million members, is fighting the proposed healthcare increases, specifically the use of mean-testing for cost increases.

“We think it’s absolutely wrong,” Beasley told the Free Beacon. “This is a breach of faith” for both the active duty and retiree communities.

Congressional hearings are set for next month.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars on Feb. 23 called on all military personnel and the veterans’ community to block the healthcare increases.

“There is no military personnel issue more sacrosanct than pay and benefits,” said Richard L. DeNoyer, head of the 2 million-member VFW. “Any proposal that negatively impacts any quality of life program must be defeated, and that’s why the VFW is asking everyone to join the fight and send a united voice to Congress.”

Senior Air Force leaders are expected to be asked about the health care cost increases during a House Armed Services Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Congress must pass all the proposed changes into law, as last year’s defense authorization bill preemptively limited how much the Pentagon could increase some Tricare fees, while other fees already were limited in law.

Tricare for Life, Tricare Prime, and Tricare Standard increases must be approved, as well as some of the pharmacy fee increases, congressional aides said.

Current law limits Tricare fee increases to cost of living increases in retirement pay.

 

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