Each year, the Congressional Budget Office releases its reports on cost-savings within the government. These suggestions are then used to identify or justify cuts in upcoming budgetary meetings. This is a good thing, and recognizes the efforts to reduce waste. Unfortunately, not all suggestions are good ones.
The December 8th report lists “Concurrent Receipt” as an opportunity to save $139 billion between 2018 to 2026. The price tag is staggering, but the discussion goes much deeper than the price.
Concurrent Receipt references a practice that is common to most people. When military service members retire after 20 years of service, they are able to receive a pension. Additionally, when they face service-related injuries or illnesses, they receive disability. Concurrent receipt means that they would receive both. It was not always this way. Until 2003, a retiree had to make a choice. Either they receive their full retirement pension, or they receive their disability benefits, but lose $1 in retirement benefits for every $1 in disability earned.
In other words, if a retiree made $1,000 a month in retirement, and had a disability from service paying $500 per month, they would receive only $1,000 a month total. This changed in 2003.
Since the change, those who serve for 20 or more years and receive a disability rating of 50% or higher are able to receive Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP). CRDP is subject to federal taxes. Combat-Related Specialty Compensation (CRSC), which covers injuries sustained in combat, are not subject to federal taxes. Depending on the nature of injuries or illnesses sustained, there may be a combination of different payments to the retiree.
The recommendation from the CBO is to rescind this practice, and return to the pre-2003 days. They estimate it would save $10 billion per year and argue that it would stop the practice of compensating service members twice for their service. The counter-argument is that retirement pay is earned for longevity with an organization. Disability pay is earned for pain and suffering. The two are mutually exclusive and are in no way an example of double dipping or “getting over” on the government.
The reality is that this nation has been at war for a very long time. Instead of raising taxes, buying war bonds or seeking to pay for the conflict, the government has pushed the issue down the road again and again. Now service members who have served their country with dignity and honor are being asked to reduce benefits so that the country can save money. This is not asking the country to bear the burden of paying for the war. This is telling service members that it is their pockets the war savings will come from.
Taking retirement money from the service member to save up to $10 billion per year does not in fact reduce the cost of the wars. Potential savings identified will not mean actual savings while the country remains at a state of war and continues to spend that money on aircraft, ships, and other projects. In just a few years, service members can potentially have entered service while this country was at war and retired while still being in a state of war. The first, and only contract that is non-negotiable, should be the contract a government makes with its service members. To take from them, would be nothing short of a betrayal.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.