ECN CoverE&C Commissary News

Editorial Comment — March 2013

A Time for Readiness ...

As the nation reaches the precipice of drastic funding decreases that threaten to result in dwindling warfighting forces, poorly equipped, insufficiently trained and sparsely supported, leaving the tip of the spear weak and rusty at best and blunted in any case — all the while threats build in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East — one has to wonder, “Did the Administration and some in the Congress think this through, or did they see a drawdown in Southwest Asia as an opportunity to run national defense on the cheap?”

We think it's time for more readiness, not less, and proper rebuilding from the degraded conditions inflicted by prolonged recent and continuing conflicts; and that it might be time for Congress to get off the campaign trail and work nonstop — just the way the military has during the last 12 years — to find a solution to the problem.

There's no denying that cuts need to be made, but a detailed, well thoughtout plan that examines where and how every dollar is spent is in order, rather than a disproportionate and opportunistic attack on military funding, which these days always seems to be at the top of the agenda.

Good for the Goose ...

Circulating in Internet unofficialdom is a proposed amendment to the Constitution to the effect that “Any law Congress passes for the people shall also apply to Congress, and any law Congress passes for itself shall also apply to the people.” Congress then might think twice before voting to slash spending indiscriminately, while continuing to preserve its own gold-plated benefits and pay increases.

If funding cuts to servicemember quality of life are being contemplated, so should they be for Congress.

Much has been reported in this budget crisis regarding non-paid furloughs for government employees, including many in military resale. As for furloughs in Congress, well, we could see how that might be a problem for an entity that spends as much time away from its work in Washington as it already does. Can anybody afford much more Congressional stalemate?

Last September, Congress postponed work on 12 appropriations bills until March. If all of us went about our work in that fashion, furloughs — permanent furloughs — would follow quickly.

Going forward, if any cuts in the realm of appropriated funding to servicemember resale benefits — on the order of 10-20-30 percent — are truly being considered, we would ask Congress and the Administration to suggest where they would similarly cut their own expenses — Food? Clothing? Shelter? Telephone, electricity, heat, hot water? Auto insurance? Savings?

As we move into the 2014 legislative cycle, we would also ask the incoming Defense Secretary to ensure that these servicemember and retiree benefits are preserved in accordance with the Department's “social compact” with the servicemember and his or her family, and that Congress do its part for commissary and other resale-related funding by passing authorization and appropriations bills that place servicemembers, veterans and military retirees where they deserve to be.

They've been on the front lines for almost all of this century. Now, when it comes to quality-of-life benefits, they deserve to be placed at the front of the line.

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