During the State of the Union address, President Barack Obama repeatedly expressed his support for the military and ended the address with a well-deserved tribute to a wounded soldier and his father sitting next to the First Lady. This tribute was very moving for both the assembled audience as well as myself and the millions of others watching the speech.
As I listened, I wondered how many people understood the caveat associated with the president’s expressed support for the military. It is similar, in my view, to his statements about the health care law. That is, he said if you like your insurance or doctor, you can keep them. This has proved to not be accurate in many cases.
Here is the story. Since 2004, the cost-of-living increase for the active duty military has been, by law, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index. As Congress worked on the Fiscal 2014 military bill, the two houses could not agree on the pay raise (no surprise!). The Republican-controlled House of Representatives wanted the 1.8 percent increase directed by law. The Democrat-controlled Senate wanted the pay increase capped at 1 percent as recommended by the Obama administration.
On Aug. 30, 2013, President Obama, using his authority under the law, sent to Congress a letter that limited the pay increase for active duty military to 1 percent. Thus, the president and his party support the military but think that the 1 percent who volunteer to defend us all are overpaid.
This old soldier wishes the president had the decency to wait until the war is over before capping the troop’s pay. Thus, there is an exception to his expressed support for the military.
David R. Moss
Colonel, Retired, U. S. Army