Panetta indicates Military pay may be on chopping block

Leon Panetta
Panetta at National Press Club luncheon: Military pay cuts may be on table

If talks between the White House and Congress fail, all defense spending items will be on the table — up to and including service members’ pay.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was bereft of good news at his Tuesday appearance before a packed National Press Club luncheon. While the president is spending money like a drunken sailor — no offense to drunken sailors — the Defense Department is cutting expenses to the bone. One of the expenses that could end up on the chopping block is the amount we pay our men and women in uniform.

The secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff have just whittled $487 billion from defense to meet the 2011 Budget Control Act requirements. They’re now looking ahead to an additional half-trillion dollars in sequestration cuts in the event fiscal cliff talks reach a stalemate.

“Because of political gridlock, this department still faces the possibility of another round of across-the-board cuts,” Panetta told the gathering, according to Human Events. “Wherever I visit our troops, they make clear their concerns about those cuts. What does it mean for them and what does it mean for their families. We’re down to the wire now.”

As Hope Hodge reported for Human Events,

Panetta said there were four areas he looked at when trying to achieve savings: efficiencies; force structure reductions, or decreasing total troop strength; procurement reforms; and, perhaps most controversially, compensation.

Troop pay was not directly affected by the Budget Control Act reductions, but if Panetta was laying out a road map for future cuts, as he appeared to be doing, it may not be spared for long.

The military does the nation’s dirty work and asks for little in return. Rather than asking them to pay for the executive and legislative branches’ inability to get along, we should turn the tables.

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., came up with what he called the “penny plan,” reducing budgetary expenditures by 1 percent each year. I suggest we reduce the budget of every department and agency except defense by 5 percent. Call it the penny plan on steroids.

Knowing that it’s absolutely impossible to balance the federal budget without some serious entitlement reform, I would further suggest that neither the president nor Congress receive a dime in pay or get a day off until they do their job — pass a budget that includes those entitlement reforms. Government broke it; it’s up government to fix it.

We’ve reached the point where we spend more on each welfare recipient than the median income of the American worker who pays for those benefits. Every day, we hear of $100,000-a-year meter maids and government workers retiring at young ages on six-figure pensions.

The Department of Defense is making some difficult but realistic decisions in a town where reality is a rare commodity. If the rest of government shared Defense’s nose for business and collection of sharp pencils, the country would not be in the shape it’s in.

Read more at Human Events.


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