San Diego Soliloquies

Friday, December 12, 2003

A Cluesless Man Covers a Thoughtless Administration

It has suddenly come to Rich Lowry's attention that the Bush administration is rat-f**king active military and vets, and well, he'd like someone to explain it all to him.

Hey Rich, how about this July 2nd editorial from The Army Times:

    In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap ?— and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.
    For example, the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary ?— including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.
    Similarly, the administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.

It goes on:

    The chintz even extends to basic pay. While Bush?’s proposed 2004 defense budget would continue higher targeted raises for some ranks, he also proposed capping raises for E-1s, E-2s and O-1s at 2 percent, well below the average raise of 4.1 percent.

Let's put this into perspective. Right now, an E-1 tops out at $1,150.80 a month base pay. An E-2 tops out at $1290 base, and an 0-1 gets $2746 after 3 years of service. E's are enlisted people and O's are officers. Here's a chart to explain enlisted rank and pay grades, and this one's for officers.

Congress, and especially the Senate, told the White House what it could do with those recommendations, and the pay raises this year have run from 3.7% to 6.25%. The variation occurs because Congress and the Military "target" certain critical groups to try and retain them. These tend to be the senior Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO's) (Think Staff Sergeant and above, Chief Perry Officer and above for navy), and mid-level officers (Majors and Colonels and Lieutenants and Lt Commanders).

How about this proposal for vets?

Here's the proposed pay chart for 2004. Look at that chart and try to imagine raising a family, Now try to imagine raising that family in San Diego, home of the Pacific Fleet and newly crowned "least affordable housing market" in the entire state of California. Now imagine that your Commander in Chief has repeatedly shown that he only cares how you look as background for his campaign ads.


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