Sunday, December 4, 2011

CW on NPR Tonight

I was interviewed Friday for Sunday night's edition of "All Things Considered" (check your local listings).  It is a story on military retirement benefits, and I am apparently one of several people they interviewed.  I'll post the podcast when it is available.

The story is here, with a link at the top of the page to listen to the podcast.

16 comments:

Uncle Willie said...

Local what listings? TV, radio, DVD, VCR - give us a clue.

Uncle Willie said...

I know it's radio but am fm. I'm not a National Public Radio fan so steer me in the right direction.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Willie--I believe your best bet is:

WUNC-FM 91.5 Chapel Hill Sun, 05:00PM-06:00PM

Four Decade Lady said...

That's our local. Can't wait to hear it.

Uncle Willie said...

I tuned in on the NPR interview and you did very well, 4-O

Bill said...

Not very balanced. I don't buy the entire premise of having a retired reserve MG (a beltway insider to boot) who is a CEO of a company and you (how the hell did they pick you out of the hat?) arguing to charge more for health benefits for veterans. Would be good to hear from a retired E-6 who relies on the benefit and the base hospital or God forbid a V.A. hospital for care. Only those who can afford an increase argue for the increase and couching it in weapon system acquisition -- oh my what a world, what a world.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

What they cut was that I advocated the premium cost be tied to the total pension benefit, in order to alleviate the condition you cite. Again, it was cut.

Dan said...

Leah listened to you as she drove up from her USAF Reserve Drill weekend training in Fort Worth. She agreed with your points and added that you sounded good on the radio.

Anonymous said...

"They're paying retirement benefits to people who are 90 [or] even 100 years old right now, who served a couple of generations ago," he says.

Whose quote was this? should there be a limit to the length of time one can draw benefits? Should "the greatest generation" or any generation who put their blood on the line have a twilight to their benefits? I mean, 90 is almost dead, why not simply euthanize them and save the nation the expense of any debts to their names. Why wait for 90? Why not just euthanize them when they retire and not deal with them at all?

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Don't know, anon. I know that I didn't say anything remotely like that.

"The Hammer" said...

"My health care costs me the equivalent of approximately one triple latte a week..."

You know, I'm a reasonably well traveled individual, drank and ate lots of exotic and weird foods, but I have never had a latte in my life. As best I can determine it's a cappuccino, of which I have had thousands. And after having had proper espresso or cappuccino (made with one of those Martian spaceship looking contraptions), the American facsimile is disgusting.

So my question is, who drinks that shit? And my point is, maybe all that polysorbate 80 and ammonium acetate might not be good for you. And lastly, why didn't you mention my name on the radio you ungrateful prick.

NavyAustin said...

If you love your country, and your country can't afford your retirement and your health care, ought you not decline them, or repay the treasury?

Seems Warren "Please, raise my taxes, I earn too much!" Buffett (called a "blowhard hypocrite" on these pages) was taken to task for not leading by example by writing a big check to USG. Just sayin'.

(for the record, I don't think you should. just a bit o pot/kettle) My remedy next post)

NavyAustin said...

How to fix it:

You earned them and should keep them. But it is a problem. Fix the problem as follows:

- Retirement expense is driven by and a symptom of the larger issue: high military salaries creating a huge cost structure. Reagan got the troops out of poverty, but taking care of troops is a sure-fire vote getter. 2 decades of above-inflation pay raises has given the military a cost structure that is out of whack. Rein in pay by having military pay increases 1% less than rate of inflation. Do likewise for COLAs for retirees. Get truck drivers paid more like truck drivers, and use targeted special pays, bonuses and incentives to manage/reward those with high-demand skills.

- Means-test or somehow tie TRICARE co-pay to total income.

- In the bigger sense, the 20 year, winner take all plan is both unfair and creates an artificial environment. Unfair because the retirement accruals of all service members pay for the few that actually get to 20.

- Those who serve 5 years, 10 years and leave now leave with nothing. Making their retirement (or part of it) portable like a 401k would help.

- A glaring inequity is the fact the retiree at 43/47 (enlisted/officer average) and at age 38 does get that money immediately - and to age 100. Why not at 60, like their reserve/guard counterparts? The reserve/guard folks are already getting less, pro-rated, on a day-for day credit basis. But as a retirement-eligible 45 year old reserve guy, I won't see my first check until 57 (due to some post-9/11 provisions). Why do you get 3k per month for a dozen years that I don't? Being at the "tip of the spear" for all those years sounds nice, but you also had a guaranteed paycheck every month. Reserve and Guard folks assume far greater economic risk and career penalty by choosing to serve - and have been subject to mobilization since the order was signed Sept 14, 2001.

- And, the military retirement system produces strange career behavior. Milestones need to be hit exactly to be competitive. Bad and low-performing officers who make it to Lieutenant Commander or Major and 10 years stay, delivering a mediocre performance for 10 more years to get the payoff at age 43. Rock stars at 20 leave because suddenly they are working for "half pay."

- Some people develop faster. Others bloom slower, but find their legs and take off later. Still others can do a great job as an E5 or and O3, and would be capable and effective if they could stay there. Perhaps allowing good people who have hit their peak but are awesome where they are to stay in would reduce some of the need to recruit, and would keep some expertise and experience in the force.

No easy answers - transition and granfathering will be hard. But it's not completely broken.

And, it was a known known. It's not a NEW entitlement, like medical care. That's what's really going to kill us.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Navy Austin--you've made some very common sense proposals, some of which are on the table as we speak.

As to the pot/kettle thing--you are SO right. This is something with which I have been struggling mightily, internally. I'm actually not sure whether I've arrived a a coherent and logically consistent distinction either. But let me try.

1. I am interested in reforming the military pension system and the healthcare system. With respect to the pension, all of my suggestions would apply to those not already under a pension understanding (either those on active duty or those receiving retirement pay). So the charge of hypocrisy sticks far less well on the pension issue, as I am not saying to take any of my retirement, other retirees or anyone who has been "promised" one.
2. On the issue of healthcare reform for retirees, which I am in favor of reforming NOW for all who receive it, I answer the charge this way. The folks (like Buffet) who whine that they aren't paying enough taxes have lived under a graduated income tax system for decades. And while the rates have changed due to tax reform, the basic premise of paying more taxes (and a larger share) as one moves up the income scale remains in place and to my understanding, the fairest way to tax. Put another way--the system in place for taxing income has a self-adjusting mechanism to meter taxation as one moves up and down the income scale. Tricare--which was PLANNED so that 27% of system costs would be borne by beneficiaries when it started in 1994--has not had a SINGLE premium increase, so that by 2006, 12% of system costs were borne by beneficiaries--and i am told it is less than 10% now. After all of these words, what am I saying? I'm saying that with respect to taxation, there is already an equitable system in place for raising sufficient revenue to fund the operations of the government, and that system is working JUST FINE, though we continue to dole too much out on the spending side. With Tricare--this is simply not the case--the total system is too expensive and is eating into force capability and readiness--one of the reasons for this is that it was designed poorly and its premium structure did not change as was planned.

This may all be insufficient for you to believe that I have escaped the pot/kettle conundrum, and I probably need to work it out a bit--but it feels internally consistent to me.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

On the issue of YOUR specific recommendations Navy Austin, I believe the following:

A glaring inequity is the fact the retiree at 43/47 (enlisted/officer average) and at age 38 does get that money immediately - and to age 100. Why not at 60, like their reserve/guard counterparts? The reserve/guard folks are already getting less, pro-rated, on a day-for day credit basis. But as a retirement-eligible 45 year old reserve guy, I won't see my first check until 57 (due to some post-9/11 provisions). Why do you get 3k per month for a dozen years that I don't? Being at the "tip of the spear" for all those years sounds nice, but you also had a guaranteed paycheck every month. Reserve and Guard folks assume far greater economic risk and career penalty by choosing to serve - and have been subject to mobilization since the order was signed Sept 14, 2001.

Let's face it, you're a "special" kind of reservist, in that you've spent a considerable amount of time on active duty. Other reservists can and do earn a retirement having put in FAR LESS time than you. I simply can't support your idea of "equity". There needs to be a distinction between active and reserve status. Secondly--no reform I advocate (and none that are taken seriously) would address anyone already getting a pension or on active duty--so your wish is not likely to be addressed. But with respect to those who have yet to join--common sense recommendation like those you've made should apply. I would still like to see a distinction made between active and reserve service, perhaps in a 401K like system the "employer match" would be tagged to one's service status.

NavyAustin said...

CW - thanks for the thoughtful response. On this point, I think we do disagree:

Other reservists can and do earn a retirement having put in FAR LESS time than you.

They do, but each of their retirement is unique, pro-rated, day for day, for their AC and RC time. And it's a much smaller retirement, which is fine and fair, but it's the start date discrepancy that is unfair.

Take a soldier who does a 4 year enlistment, goes reserve and does the weekend a month/2 weeks a year thing. He gets called up for one year go go to Afghanistan.

Over the course of 20 years, he has 5 active years, and the cumulative total of his 15 years of drills and annual training bring him to 8.2 years of "contructive" service.

So while the active duty guy leaves active duty and gets 50% of their base pay starting at age 42, this reserve guy's paycheck would be 20.4% (that's the fair part) - but would not start until age 60 (59 if his year in AFG was after 2008 due to the new law).

That, to me, is the unfair part. It might have made sense 40 years ago when the reserve was truly an "in case of emergency break glass." Remember, there was a conscious decision made NOT to use reserves in Vietnam (which is why some people viewed President Bush and others' National Guard service as legal draft-dodging -- they joined knowing that they wouldn't go)

Today, every member of the Guard and Reserve has enlisted, re-enlisted or re-affirmed their oath of office in the last 10 years since 9/11 knowing the mobilization and deployment was not only possible, but probable.

The 2008 law to ratchet back the retirement from age 60 does a little to correct this inequity, but not much.

Newer Post Older Post Home