When future historians write of America’s economic collapse and the crumbling of western civilization, the budget that just passed the House – if it is noticed at all – will be noted for marking the fourth straight decade in which Republicans agreed to increase present spending on the promise of future cuts. As we view phrenologists and witchdoctors, the future will view 21st century Republicans. Paul Ryan and John Boehner will likely be forgotten entirely. Though the names of heroes and villains often survive the centuries, charlatans, dupes and shriveled, orange, whimpering leprechauns are never remembered.
The budget is hardly worth commenting upon at all. But there was one bit of grievous self-sabotage that is impressive and rare, even for Republicans, a party that is increasingly contemptuous of its constituents.
Boehner and Ryan negotiated a deal that will cut $6 billion from proposed increases to the pensions of military retirees. On average, our career soldiers will lose between $83,000 and $123,000 from the pensions they were promised. And when I say ‘promised,’ I don’t just mean the recruiter who reassured them after they first strapped on their boots and put our flag on their right shoulders. I mean in September. Of 2013. By the president of the United States.
It sounds strange, right? President Obama bailed out General Motors to the tune of over $70 billion when you include the taxes they didn’t have to pay. Why would he turn his back on American soldiers?
Oh, wait. I remember: General Motors employs union workers. Union workers vote Democrat, and unions keep the entire Democrat party afloat with their billions in annual campaign contributions. Screw the soldiers. Three out of four of those dummies vote Republican.
I’m not one to bemoan any cut in government spending. Most federal employees are six-figure salary leeches, working for departments unlisted in the Constitution, and doing jobs that grow nothing, build nothing, improve nothing. If they were all swept away in a flood tomorrow, you wouldn’t even notice.
On the other hand, defense is provided for in the Constitution. Soldiers are necessary. And when I signed up ten years ago, a private earned $19,200 a year and every Joe that I knew worked at least sixty hours a week. Career Joes are made of iron. Even those who serve twenty years and never see combat retire with battered bodies. Most grew up with few options. Many were born in circumstances that nearly destined them to become criminals, and they chose hard lives of service instead. Millions have spent years away from their families to protect the freedom of others.
It’s not terribly surprising that President Obama would turn his back on veterans. He’s a man who rewards constituents, and they are not among them. But Boehner and Ryan should know better.
It’s a compromise, though, right? Boehner and Ryan cut the salaries and pensions of every active duty soldier and retired veteran, so what did the Democrats give up?