Saturday, August 27, 2011

FIRE Def. Sec. Panetta for threat to military retirement

It appears that when the current administration talks about cutting defense, they don't mean cutting endless wars, or corrupt contracts with connected corporations--they want to privatize (which means give to Wall Street) the troops pensions. At least that's what Secretary of Defense Leon Pannetta said recently at National Defense University citing a plan by an advisory board of corporate suits.
It would be no surprise if the Republicans proposed this, given their constant schemes to undermine and privatize Social Security, but if Obama and Democrats in Congress embrace and push for this, there would be no surer sign that care more about obeying Wall Street than winning elections.

The ''reform'' would change military retirement from a guaranteed amount based on rank and available immediately when they retire after 20 or 30 years of service to a 401K type plan than wouldn't be available until they are 60. One military group did the math and it would end up costing an E-7 $1.6 MILLION over the course of their retirement, an 85% cut.

This is a classic corporate move on a couple of levels: reducing and/or stealing employees pensions, and by saying currently serving troops would be spared the change is a standard union-busting move--divide and conquer future vs. current employees.

That Obama's Secretary of Defense even mentioned this other than to tear it to shreds destroys one of the things many progressive Democrats took pride in during the Bush years: Republicans give lip service to supporting the troops, but Democrats supported them in ways that mattered most to the troops, with VA funding, strengthening the GI Bill and the like.

That might have been why troops donated to Obama six to one over McCain in 2008 (besides the mistaken impression that he was anti-war).

This shoots that advantage in the face.

Pragmatically,this is not just an insult to the troops, but it will make it even easier for mercenary companies to lure highly trained troops out of the military with their big paydays. That training cost taxpayer money, and the longer they stay in the military, the better return we get on our investment in them. When they join mercenary companies, we end up paying even more for the services of someone we paid to train in the first place.

This is not just my opinion, but when a similar ''reform'' was attempted in the 80's, the Pentagon had to plead to get it reversed because so many people were leaving the military.

If Democrats in Congress and the White House want to cut military spending, fine. Let them do it by ending the wars, and taking our troops off oil reserve hostile takeover and pipeline (and poppy field) protection duty (or at least making the oil company assholes actually pay for the service).

Panetta should publicly apologize for publicly even entertaining this idea. If he does not, the right wing talking point about Democrats not supporting the troops will sadly be true. If he won't apologize and condemn the idea, he should be fired.

Tell Obama, your senators, and you congressman exactly that.

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