Walter Pincus has a fascinating piece in the Post this morning. I think it's a must read:
Personnel costs are a growing threat to defense, military leaders tell Congress - The Washington Post
In all the hoopla about the ACA, the media has largely ignored what military brass has been telling Congress lately about the high cost of soldiers.
We usually hear of runaway military costs in terms of hardware overruns, building stuff that nobody wants or needs (except for defense contractors and the Congressmen they bribe), that kind of thing.
But the eye-opener here is that the cost of an Army soldier has doubled since 2001, including all the benefits such as non-taxable housing, fabulous health care for active and retired personnel and their families, and all the other perks. It's expected to double again by 2025.
From the article:
"And for the past three years, Congress has ignored the more vocal calls from President Obama and defense secretaries Robert Gates and Chuck Hagel to support their efforts to reduce the growing costs of military benefits, particularly the health-care programs for retirees."
The writer points out that all the service chiefs have been warning about runaway personnel costs and benefits for quite some time, and have pinpointed some obvious areas for savings. Again, from the article:
"All four chiefs mentioned programs being studied: reduction in active pay increases, reduced retirement pay and benefits, higher premiums for retirees for TRICARE (the broad medical support program for active and retired service personnel and their families), higher co-pays for pharmaceuticals, smaller off-base housing allowances, and the commissary system."
Sounds draconian, until you consider that:
"A Congressional Budget Office study released Wednesday reported that, between 2001 and 2012, basic military pay rose by 28 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. During the same time, private-sector wages for white-collar and blue-collar workers roughly stagnated."
When you look at it that way, the military and its retirees have been doing very nicely.
If we really want to cut budgets, this seems a very good place to start. Sure beats the idiotic sequester.