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Editorial: The House Gets It Wrong

May. 5, 2014 - 01:36PM   |  
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In its defense budget request this year, the Obama administration asked the US Congress to tackle rising military personnel costs.

It proposed modest changes to housing allowances, commissary benefits and health care for retirees to save $22 billion over five years.

Last week, House subcommittees vetoed the changes without offering alternatives.

Members said they were committed to supporting the troops and would find savings elsewhere. Thatís easier said than done in a zero-sum fiscal environment imposed by sequestration.

Scrapping the administrationís proposals saves only $2 billion in 2015, but another $20 billion through 2019.

Thatís real money ó enough to buy eight nuclear attack submarines, 40 new stealth bombers or pay for 50,000 troops over the same period.

Anyone serious about national security knows that compensation reform is critical, and delaying decisions will merely make the problem worse.

Sequestration ensures that if compensation reform fails to deliver promised savings, cuts will have to be made elsewhere, most likely in readiness and modernization accounts that can deliver quick cash.

Caring for troops isnít just a question of good pay and lush benefits.

Without reform, the force will continue to shrink, training will decline and modernization will slip. It doesnít matter how well-compensated Americaís military is if it ultimately canít execute the missions itís asked to perform.

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