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lowance cuts for thousands of servicemem- bers. It called the initiative “perhaps the most misguided proposal with the greatest potential for unintended consequences.” Rather than highlighting, as MOAA did,


the devastating financial impact of the plan for various types of servicemembers, the op-ed cited other downsides, including po- tential effects on local housing markets and the possibility of raising DoD housing costs. Unlike MOAA, again, it didn’t take issue with making significant cuts in personnel accounts. Indeed, it cited bogus arguments to the effect “rising personnel costs are squeezing out investments in new technolo- gies and weapon systems.” In fact, (a) personnel costs are no longer


growing, (b) the growth in the first decade of the century was a necessary correction for more than a decade of previous cutbacks that caused retention and readiness prob- lems in the late 1990s, and (c) personnel costs have remained steady at a little over 30 percent of the DoD budget for the past 30 years. (What’s actually squeezing new technologies and weapon systems is explod- ing cost overruns in both acquisition and operations and maintenance accounts.) But the author’s main argument against cutting housing allowances is that “immedi- ate cash compensation is what employees value most — more than noncash forms of compensation (like health care) and de- ferred benefits (like retirement pensions).” So the author’s recommended alter-


native is to cut “benefits many service- members don’t even know they have and therefore do not value, like the Medicare- Eligible Retiree Health Care benefit,” i.e., TRICARE For Life (TFL). In effect, this is the old argument that we could gut retirement benefits and give the troops pickup trucks and they’d be happier. If we only checked first-termers, this


might prove true. But the longer people serve, the more value they place on those


30 MILITARY OFFICER OCTOBER 2016


longer-term benefits — and the stronger the benefits get as retention incentives. Twenty years ago, Congress and DoD


went down the “let’s cut future benefits” path by cutting retired pay value 20 per- cent (remember the “REDUX” retirement change?), closing military hospitals and clinics, and effectively locking Medicare- eligible retirees out of military health care. In the ensuing years, declining career


retention — and exit surveys indicating the main difference was REDUX — led the Joint Chiefs to urge its repeal. Concerned that angry retirees were influencing young- er friends and family members not to enlist/ reenlist over broken promises of “lifetime health care,” the Joint Chiefs also urged a health care fix for Medicare-eligibles. These were major factors in Congress’ repeal of REDUX and subsequent enactment of TFL. So op-ed authors can assert troops don’t


know or care about retirement and health care, but history shows those who pursue a military career care about them — a lot.


Gary Johnson on “T


ime to Choose,” page 48, compares answers from presidential candidates


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on four questions on military and veteran issues. At our members’ urging, we also reached out to Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. We received his response too late for inclusion in the feature article, but the Washington Scene column has a later dead- line, so we present his answers below. MOAA is the only source where you can


compare all three candidates’ answers for yourself. These are the unedited comments


Defense, VA Compare Johnson, Clinton, and Trump on four questions.


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