As your voice in the halls of Congress, one of the obligations I take most seriously is taking care of our veterans. The brave men and women of our Armed Forces who volunteer to protect our freedoms deserve not only our respect, but also action from Congress that shows true appreciation for their sacrifices.
Shortly before Christmas, Congress passed a budget compromise bill that contained a provision that will reduce the cost-of-living increases for retired military personnel under the age of 62. This provision amounts to a $6 billion cut in military pensions. I voted against the budget compromise. Chief among my reasons for opposing the bill is the change to military pensions. Simply put, it is wrong for Congress to try and balance the budget by breaking promises made to members of our nation’s military.
Worse yet, military retirees are the only group affected by the budget compromise. Changes made to federal civilian retirement programs only apply to future federal civilian employees, not to current federal civilian employees. Cutting veteran’s pensions, while funding pensions for civilian federal employees, is a slap in the face to members of our military and their families who have sacrificed so much while defending our freedoms at home and abroad.
Congress can find better ways to save money. I am cosponsoring H.R. 3788, which will repeal the changes to military retirement programs and replace those changes with a requirement that taxpayers provide a valid Social Security number in order to be eligible for tax refunds under the child tax credit. This loophole allows individuals, some of whom are in the country illegally, to fraudulently claim child tax credits. This reform will save roughly $7 billion over 10 years, which is more than the changes to military pensions are forecasted to save over the same time. This sensible step to stop fraud and abuse in the federal government is a much better option than cutting the pensions of military retirees.
Our men and women in uniform deserve unwavering support from every Member of Congress and all Americans. It is wrong to balance budgets on the backs of troops who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way so that we can all be free. I will continue efforts to restore veteran’s pension benefits. The livelihood of our troops should not be negotiable.