The largest association of military officers in the country went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to urge legislators to reject the Obama administration’s proposed spending cuts.
The Military Officers Association of America, in its annual “Storming the Hill” event, sent representatives of all 50 states to nearly every congressional office in a single day, reports Politico
The group reportedly opposes a provision in Obama’s 2014 budget plan that would increase pay for service members by just one percent, down from 1.7 percent in 2013. It also objects to the administration’s proposal to require some veterans to pay a larger share of their healthcare costs under TRICARE.
“It’s hard to believe those saying we must keep faith with the troops to appreciate these proposals do exactly the opposite,” association president and CEO Norb Ryan told Politico, adding: “We understand the pressure to cut the budget, but no segment of American has sacrificed more than our military people.”
The association represents more than 380,000 active-duty and retired military officers and reservists along with their families and has lobbied aggressively in recent years for sustained military pay and benefits.
On the other side of the budget battle is the defense industry, which spends millions of dollars a year to pressure Congress and the Pentagon to maintain their weapons programs, noted Politico.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for his part also has appeared before Congress in an effort to gain support for the new budget request.
“In order to sustain these important benefits over the long term without dramatically reducing the size or readiness of the forces, these rising costs need to be brought under control,” he told the House Armed Services Committee last week.
Ryan discounted Hagel’s argument, telling Politico, “It’s the height of irony to pledge to grandfather all current service members against any retirement changes, and then propose what amounts to a $1,000 annual military healthcare tax on those who already completed a career and all the currently serving members who will retire tomorrow and beyond.”
“Let’s not go back down the road that history shows will ultimately undermine our top-quality all-volunteer force,” he added.
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