A “compromise” National Defense Authorization Act should be unveiled today, and if it includes the cuts to the scheduled increase in the uniformed military’s housing allowance and/or increases in their medical deductibles, expect blowback directed at any Republican who supports it. Either move would add to the already incredible stresses on military family budgets. You can’t both “support the troops” and cut their families’ incomes.
Last year Senator Lindsey Graham led the fight to stop the cuts to the military’s pay and retirement –including scheduled raises that keep inflation from destroying the purchasing power of the military paycheck– and he can be expected to lead any necessary fight this year as well.
But any Republican senator interested in the 2016 nomination would have to see in opposing such cuts via any means available a huge opportunity to highlight defense readiness via troop retention, and in so doing their own national security credentials.
Hopefully House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon hasn’t bent in his last two weeks of Congressional service to the Senate Democrats’ desire to further erode the quality of life for the uniformed services and the NDAA won’t be an issue on this subject. There is a long awaited set of recommendations on military pay and retirement coming February 1 from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC). It would be the height of D.C. filly to act before the experts weighed in, to do so via a lame duck session full of short-timers, and do so before the GOP takes control of the Congress and can begin to reverse the damage done to the Pentagon by six years of President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi.
Many members of the Senate GOP have to stand for re-election in 2016. They have to have seen what happened to their Democratic colleagues who supported the first push in late 2013 to cut career military compensation. GOP senators up for re-election and House GOP members who fear a primary challenge in 2016 have got to fight any such proposed cuts if they have not already been swept from the table by McKeon and his staff.
We will learn a lot today about a lot of the D.C. GOP and their attitude towards the military. Once supported, votes for cuts to the military’s pay and benefits cannot be erased.