The enormous 2011 budget deficit, projected deficits of more than a trillion dollars/year for the next 10 years, and the requirement to raise the debt ceiling above the $14.3-trillion limit currently mandated by Congress have prompted growing pressure to cut government spending across the board, and Congress’ response to spending concerns has put many FRA-supported programs in lawmakers’ budgetary crosshairs.
Some view past active duty/Reserve pay increases above the Employment Cost Index (ECI) to help close the military/civilian pay gap and other recent benefit enhancements as “overly generous.” Military retired pay and benefits have also been characterized as excessive. A primary example of this attitude is the USA Today editorial published on June 2, 2011, that urges Congress to make TRICARE Prime fee increases larger than proposed “and allow TRICARE fees to rise along with health care costs.”
FRA strongly disagrees and references our members’ position in congressional testimony and in other communications with legislators and Hill staff. But a strong grassroots involvement is essential to reinforce the message that military retiree benefits are earned and that enhanced benefits for active duty personnel are the price of having an all-volunteer force fulfilling the requirements of Overseas Contingency Operations and other operational commitments around the world.
The late Senator Everett Dirksen (Illinois) once said, “When I feel the heat, I see the light!” FRA members need to let their elected officials in Washington feel some heat. Please support FRA’s legislative efforts by contacting your elected officials via The Action Center at www.fra.org.