GOP Bill Reduces Fed Retiree Benefits to Offset Defense Cuts

Thursday, 05 Dec 2013 03:37 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Two Republicans have unveiled a new bill that would eliminate sequester-related budget cuts to the Defense Department by making federal employees contribute a larger share of their salary to retirement benefits.

Reps. Jim Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, and Doug Lamborn, of Colorado, introduced the Provide for the Common Defense Act, which they say would offset the impact on the Pentagon over the next two years caused by the mandatory spending cuts, Fox News reports.

The legislation would increase, over a three-year period, federal employees’ contributions toward their retirement accounts from 0.8 percent to 2 percent of their salaries.

The bill would also eliminate the Federal Employees Retirement System annuity supplement, which provides extra benefits to employees who retire before they are eligible to collect Social Security, according to Government Executive.

The two lawmakers said that the bill would further generate more savings by using a less generous formula for inflation -- known as the chained Consumer Price Index -- to work out the cost-of-living adjustments for federal retirees and Social Security beneficiaries.

By making changes to the way cost-of-living increase are calculated, Bridenstine said that the bill would reduce the national deficit by $200 billion over 10 years.

"President Obama is hollowing out our military, emboldening our enemies to be even more aggressive, and encouraging our friends to align with the East," he said. "This bill strengthens defense, reforms entitlements, and reduces the national deficit."

As part of the sequester cuts, the Pentagon has announced several reductions amounting to $54 billion annually over the next 10 years.

But Bridenstine and Lamborn believe that it's imperative for the country's national security that the U.S. does not fall behind other world powers like Russia and China in defense.

"Completely eliminating the Department of Defense would not even pay off this year’s deficit – let alone seriously reduce our $17 trillion national debt," said Lamborn.

"Congress needs to give our military relief rather than use it as a punching bag. Even President Obama must realize that out-of-control entitlement spending is drowning our country in debt."

Their bill was introduced just as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that he's cutting his Pentagon staff by 20 percent in an attempt to save at least $1 billion over five years as part of the cuts.

"Much of these savings will be achieved through contractor reductions, although there will be reductions in civilian personnel," Hagel said.

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