The Optimisic Conservative is reporting that the White House is threatening, in the event of a government shutdown, to interrupt pay for active duty military members. This would mean that the 15 April paycheck would contain payment only for duty up to 8 April.
There are dozens of readily apparent reasons why this is a bad idea, and almost all of them have to do with the scores of thousands of men and women who are deployed, and whose families are dealing with all manner of problems in their absence. The one thing those families should be able to count on without question is that the government will honor its word and pay the members who are out there getting shot at. Families of deployed members have to deal with all kinds of uncertainty. Wondering whether they’ll be able to count on their paycheck should never – ever – be added to the list of worries.
Much farther down on the list of concerns is this small matter: I’m supposed to go on temporary duty assignment soon. The way this works is, I pay all expenses up-front with my government credit card, and I’m reimbursed at the government’s convenience when I file a travel voucher upon my return.
If I’m not being paid for the time being, I’m still supposed to lend the government money to send me on temporary duty, and I’ll still be expected to pay that credit card bill when it comes due – paycheck or no paycheck.
If I refuse to go, I’m failing to obey orders. If I go, I may incur a debt for the government that it could very well refuse to repay in a timely manner. That, of course, could impact my career.
If Joseph Heller were alive, this would make it into a new edition of Catch 22.