Opinion

Obama reduces 2014 troop pay raise to 1%

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President Obama’s military pay increase for 2014 isn’t an increase after all — it’s actually a reduction in compensation for the men and women who put their lives on the line.

While vacationing in Hawaii Monday, Obama signed an order granting a modest 1 percent pay hike for federal employees — both civilian and military, according to Newsmax. The increase is in accordance with budget proposals the president laid out earlier this year.

When commenting on the order, the White House said the military has enjoyed a pay increase every year since Obama has been in office. But that only tells part of the story.

As it turns out, those previous pay bumps have come in the form of cost of living adjustments, or COLAs, amounting to 1.7 percent per year. The 1 percent hike the president ordered is not in addition to the COLA, but instead of it, according to Military.com, which also reported:

The figure is in line with what the Obama administration requested and the Democratic-led Senate Armed Services Committee approved earlier this year. While the Republican-led House of Representatives previously passed a 1.8 percent military pay raise for next year, some of its leaders have since agreed to limit the increase as part of a legislative compromise.

“It appears that the 1 percent pay raise is what’s been locked in,” Michael Hayden, director of government relations at the Military Officers Association of America, said in an interview with Military.com. “We’ve been pushing real hard for 1.8 percent, but our expectation is we may have lost that battle.”

Enlistees will see an average of $26 a month added to their paychecks next year — less than a dollar a day — instead of the $47 they’d expected.

The action the president took Monday completes the promise he’d made several weeks ago to keep the military pay bump down.

“President Obama has notified Congress that he intends to use his authority to set the 2014 military pay increase at 1 percent,” a press release from the House Armed Services Committee stated at that time, according to Military.com. “The NDAA neither affirms [nor] rejects the President’s decision.”

The move is the latest in a series of blows troops have suffered this year.

The military, especially enlisted personnel, make do by relying on low-cost base commissaries for shopping, but the Department of Defense began closing them down this year in a cost-saving measure. Prices at commercial grocery stores average 30 percent more.

Moreover, the Defense Department has been floating plans since late November to close all stateside military commissaries by the end of fiscal year 2015. Nothing, however, is written in stone yet.

Enlisted personnel also increasingly rely on food stamps to get by, using them 9 percent more often in the last year, according to The Huffington Post.

Then there were the hits to benefits enjoyed by retired and disabled military personnel, when the Murray/Ryan budget deal was approved by the president. A bill introduced last week in the House would restore those benefits by denying tax credits to undocumented immigrants who crossed U.S. borders illegally.

Assuming the bill passes the House, it would still have to get by Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate, then get the president’s approval.

We demand so much of what is certainly the best-trained, highest-educated and most-dedicated military in the world, especially considering our decade-plus war on terror in the Middle East. All they ask for in return is the opportunity to serve.

This Christmas season, it would have been nice to return something of real value to our service members by giving them a paycheck commensurate with their worth. Instead, we just keep taking more.

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