Military May Get Pay Cut, Fewer Benefits

The Pentagon is proposing cuts to pay and benefits for service members to cope with ongoing federal budget cuts. Unfortunately, the Pentagon is not very good at tracking its expenses.

“Selfie” may be word of the year, but if the decision were based on impact, “sequester” might have been a better choice.

After all, it’s the ongoing sequester that will cut another $52 billion from the Pentagon’s budget come January, The Wall Street Journal says. That’s on top of the $41 billion already cut this year. Because of the cuts, top military commanders are considering a plan that would mean slower growth of pay or possibly a reduction, along with reduced benefits.

Specific details aren’t available, because the Pentagon is waiting for approval from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, President Obama, and eventually Congress. It plans to release details in February. Here’s what is clear now, per the WSJ:

  • Without cuts, military personnel costs would rise from half of the budget to 60 percent in the new year.
  • The new plan would not immediately cut benefits for service members.
  • The plan includes no changes to the retirement system.
  • Everything else — including pay, housing allowances, health and other benefits — is on the table.

Some lawmakers are already arguing cuts should hit the institution a lot harder than service members, the WSJ says. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argued an emphasis on institutional spending would cut too deeply into efforts to build new weapons systems and train forces.

According to a recent Reuters investigation, however, the Pentagon is terrible at accounting, and it’s virtually impossible to properly audit. A single office of the Pentagon’s Defense Finance and Accounting Service made at least $1.59 trillion in errors in 2009 financial reports for the Air Force, it says. That includes $548 billion in made-up numbers — blanks that were filled in with the numbers needed to reconcile the military’s books with the Treasury’s.

“Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments,” Reuters says. “That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for.”

It’s a little difficult to say what the Pentagon can and can’t afford to do when the Pentagon can’t account for what it’s spending now.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

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  • Jack Mabry

    The Pentagon is the worst government agency at wasting money. They have never had to account for their spending. We need an independent auditor to go in and cut waste. All the Pentagon has to say is that this is needed for our country’s security, and everyone just accepts it. Time to make them justify their spending.

  • Are you kidding me?

    They want to cut money from the defense spending then cut the money going to the military industrial complex.
    Most of that budget goes to grossly overpay the defense contractors not military pay and benefits. I would bet that less than 5 (FIVE) percent of that whole military spending budget goes to the military pay and benefits. Most of the military pay which goes to the lower ranked enlisted personnel is between $18,000 to $35,000 even with special pays like combat duty pay. To say that now these men and women will make less and further loose their medical benefits is frankly a disgusting proposal. Many Military families can only survive because of other government subsidies like food stamps and it ilk. How do you think military families are going to survive if their pay is cut further? If they really need to cut the defense budget they should cut largest chuck sent to the corporations and defense contractors. That is where the largest percentage of the military budget is spent and the cuts should come from. After all the military doesn’t need those 10 more or so of those airplanes that are set to be decommissioned because they’re part of a contract made 10 years ago.

  • Kent

    Corporate America has been cutting benefits too. Unless you are the CEO or on the board, then the benefits and pay are just ridiculous. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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