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Congressional Battle Over Military Pay Raise Underway


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So much for supporting the troops:




Military Gets Bigger Pay Raise

Tom Philpott | May 03, 2007

Military people next January would get a 3.5 percent pay raise, under a compensation package voted Wednesday by the House armed services? subcommittee on military personnel.


In shaping the personnel section of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill, the subcommittee approved other initiatives too to please healthcare beneficiaries, surviving spouses and some disabled retirees forced from service short of 20 years by combat-related injuries.


The Senate will mark up its version of 2008 defense bill later this month, no doubt approving a somewhat different set of personnel initiatives. A House-Senate conference later will smooth out these differences.


Here are details of what the House panel unanimously approved:


2008 PAY RAISE -- The 3.5 percent raise for next year would be the ninth straight set at least a half percentage point above private sector wage growth as tracked by the government?s Employment Cost Index (ECI).


The Bush administration wanted to end the string of ECI-plus-a-half-percent raises with a 3 percent hike in 2008 to match average private sector raises. But breaking the pattern will be difficult politically during wartime, especially with a war that most lawmakers would end if they could but they can?t override the president?s veto.


Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), chairman of the personnel subcommittee, said the 3.5 percent raise continues to narrow a pay gap between the military and private sector, which stood at 13.5 percent in 1999. It now is 3.9 percent and would drop to 3.4 percent with the revised ?08 raise.


Full article: Link

Do they do ANYTHING they've ever promised? I can't think of an instance.


While listening to the radio today, a former soldier said that this pay raise (the 3.5%) would mean about $36 extra dollars a month on average for the soldiers. He then said that the 0.5% that the Bush administration doesn't want to provide would be around $5-6 a month per soldier. This is absolutely despicable.


I also find it interesting that there is very little discussion about this on major news networks.

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I see this, and I happen to notice that the Bush Administration has drastically improved the pay of soldiers as compared to the private sector, and even the revised 'lowball' raise would close the remaining gap by 13%. Certainly I would be in favor of continuing 3.5% increases at least until soldier pay matches the private sector, but I have no information as regards bugetary realities.

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As a US Marine who is directly effected by this, it doesn't matter and this makes no difference.


I am going to Iraq and I want the Marine next to me to be there because of his brothers, his Corps, and his country, not because of some big enlistment bonus or because of a pay raise.


Being in the military isn't about the money, and we have it pretty good. I only make about $1,400 a month before taxes and I am literally right there on the poverty line, but I have zero living expenses. If you're married, have a kid, etc. then you can make upwards of $3000 per month as a junior Marine.


I own an STI, and when I graduate from SOI i'm buying either a Suzuki GSXR-600 or Kawasaki ZX-6R, and despite making very little money and being on the poverty line, I can easily afford it because I have no expenses aside from my cell phone.


The military isn't about money. Don't give us a pay raise, if the white house really wants to support the troops they would make the military health care system better so Marines like me could get LASIK eye surgery before going to Iraq or Afghanistan instead of being put on a 15 month waiting list.


I had a little bit of money saved up before I joined the Marine Corps, so I am going to get LASIK eye surgery from a civilian doctor before I go to Iraq and will pay my own money, but other Marines don't have that same luxury.


But in all honesty, we have it VERY GOOD in the military. The Marine Corps has the worst living conditions than all the other branches, and we still have it pretty good, the army has plasma TV's, Burger King, etc. on their bases in Iraq. No one in the military has any reason to complain about the pay, we get paid enough. Would I like more money? Hell yeah, who wouldn't? But is it really necessary? No, because we get paid just fine and the lack of pay is more than made up for in benefits.

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I just think that considering the sacrifices our soldiers have been making over there, they shouldn't have to be on food stamps. I hear there has been a large increase in the number of officers on food stamps since this war began.


I say they deserve MORE pay than private contractors (aka mercs), since they are putting their lives on the line every day in a dangerous hell hole where death could be just about anywhere.

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Actually, annual military pay raises used to be set at 0.5% below the average private sector pay increase.


In an effort to reduce the gap between military pay and private sector pay to a more reasonable figure, Congress passed -- despite opposition from Nancy Pelosi -- a 2000 bill that set the annual military pay raise at 0.5% above the average private sector pay increase for a pre-determined period of 6 years. During that time, the gap between military pay and private sector pay decreased, just as the bill intended, and the bill subsequently expired. We continued the practice for another year.


Now, I don't know how much less the military should pay compared to the private sector (though it's absurd to suggest that public sector pay should exceed private sector pay), but I don't have a problem with sticking with the status quo and tying military pay increases to private sector pay increases. I definitely wouldn't call it "lowballing," though I'm not the expert here.


I just think that considering the sacrifices our soldiers have been making over there, they shouldn't have to be on food stamps. I hear there has been a large increase in the number of officers on food stamps since this war began.

First off, I don't think you're quite understanding how 'income' works in the military. The system is designed to minimize what qualifies as income. Not only does the government cover many expenses like health care for the soldier and his family, but a large portion of pay and allowances isn't classified as 'income' at all. And no, combat-related pay does not fall under income.


Second of all, yes, the government tries to find ways to hand out all sorts of entitlements to military personnel. Food stamps are just one example. Since 2001, we've been paying giving soldiers up to $500 a month if they can show that they qualify for civilian food stamps. And for the past couple of years, in an effort to help more soldiers qualify for food stamps, we've been excluding combat-related pay altogether in the calculation for food stamp eligibility.


Anyway, b/c I've had an inordinate amt of exposure to the system, I have a lot to say on the topic of military healthcare, VA hosp's, and entitlements / benefits for vets, but I don't have time right now, so I'll hold onto this thought for later.


Long story short, though: this new widely-held, media-fomented belief that the govt is stiffing the troops is the most uneducated bunk ive ever heard.

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As has already been stated, .5% of base pay isn't a big difference. Aside from base pay, all other pays for the military are virtually level across the board (hazardous duty pay, family separation pay, etc.) and housing is either provided on base or paid accordingly by rank and local cost of living rate. Families in need are taken care of by family readiness groups. I don't know what officers you've been hearing about being on welfare, but I can assure you that every officer I ever served with was doing pretty well financially, even fresh lieutenants.


The biggest issue I have with current policy is the extension of the Army and the Army only to 15 month tours of duty. When I was in Iraq I did 15 months because of an extension because of the first elections and the violence that came along with that. I saw my Marine Corps and Air Force counterparts come and go while I was still stuck in the desert. I am proud to have served my country and it wasn't an intolerable amount of time, but I'm just saying- WTF?

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