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Dyslexic Priorities in Budget Deal

We already know that Ryan-Murray budget bill raises taxes and spending to fund Obamacare and the TSA.  Tonight we learn that this deal contains a provision which allows the Senate to pass tax increases with just 51 votes.  But there is another problem with the bill that has been overlooked.  The priorities implicit in the smorgasbord of notional spending offsets are completely dyslexic.

Most of the savings in the bill are phantom, intangible, and spread out over ten years.  The only real savings in the bill are $6.2 billion in cuts to military pensions.  Most people who are enlisted in the military can access full pension benefits after 20-30 years of service.  This bill reduces the annual-cost of living adjustments (COLA) by 1% for all military retirees under 62.

Now, I’m not saying that there is no room to reform the pension system as a stand-alone proposition.  While it makes a lot of sense for a grunt to retire after 20 years, maybe we should cut back on the pensions for those who work office jobs and retire at 50.  And it is important to note that the bill is merely reducing COLA for military retirees under 62, not cutting base benefits.

But here is the egregious point about this deal.  The most prominent bipartisan argument for repealing the sequester is that it disproportionately hits defense.  So they went and reinstated defense spending plus non-defense spending (Department of Education, green energy, commerce) and cut military pensions in order to pretend to pay for it.  Put another way, they cut pensions for infantrymen in order to reinstate funding for liberal special interests and rich defense contractors so Lockheed Martin can build stuff we don’t need.

Moreover, the reforms to pensions for regular government workers increase the requirement for matching contributions by 1.3% only for federal workers hired after January 2014.  The cuts to the military pensions apply to current members and retirees.  After all, why should we tick off the SEIU when we can stick it to those who are being injured in Afghanistan because they are restricted from shooting back at the enemy?

Only in Washington.

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