Politics

Military pensions cut by $6 billion in Murray-Ryan budget deal

Military pensions cut by $6 billion in Murray-Ryan budget deal
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

The budget deal negotiated by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) cuts $6 billion from military pensions over the next ten years, a move Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, tried to block this move, but the Democrats killed his amendment.

Sessions wanted to preserve the military pensions and cut back on a tax credit milked by unqualified individuals, including a large number of illegal immigrants, for a good $4 billion per year – a reform strongly endorsed by the Treasury Inspector General.  The Daily Caller reports on the floor action:

In 2011, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that “individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States” and therefore did not have a valid Social Security number were still able to obtain billions in Additional Child Tax Credits by filing returns with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

Specifically the Internal Revenue Service watchdog found that unauthorized individuals received $4.2 billion refundable credits in Processing Year 2010.

Tuesday evening, Sessions attempted to force Majority Leader Harry Reid allow amendments the budget agreement.

Sessions hoped to attach his amendment to the deal — which would have closed the loophole by requiring a Social Security number to claim the refundable portion of the child tax credit and restore military retirement benefits.

Sessions’ motion failed on a 46 – 54 party line vote, with North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan crossing the aisle as the lone Democrat to vote with the Republicans.

“Reid’s majority just voted to keep pension cut for vets instead of cutting welfare payments to illegal aliens,” a Sessions aide emailed.

You can tell Kay Hagan is in deep trouble when she breaks from her caucus on a vote like this.  God forbid the Democrats should actually do something about a widely abused tax giveaway – even something as simple as demanding a Social Security Number from recipients – when they could just cut veterans’ benefits instead.

Senator Sessions spoke passionately about his proposal, and criticized the Democrats’ tactic of pushing through legislation without amendments, from the floor:

At RedState, Erick Erickson makes the point that Sessions wouldn’t have a military pension cut grenade to throw himself on if House Republicans had done a better job of crafting this budget deal:

Paul Ryan, a Republican, drafted the plan with Patty Murray, a Democrat.

House Republicans overwhelming approved the plan before it even made it to Harry Reid for a vote. The Republicans could have restored the cuts themselves in the House. Instead, they voted for the plan with the cuts to veterans benefits and went home.

Were Harry Reid to restore the cuts, he’d need to get the House back from Christmas vacation.

Republicans are going to have to own this. Paul Ryan drafted it. John Boehner pushed it through and didn’t give even the 72 hours he promised he’d give for people to look through his legislation. Maybe had John Boehner spent more time reading through the legislation instead of blasting conservatives for opposing cuts to veterans’ benefits and tax increases he could have done something.

Matt Boyle at Breitbart News says a budget deal talking point related to preserving current benefit levels for disabled and injured veterans has been scrubbed by the House Budget Committee:

Ryan’s spokesman Will Allison admitted to Breitbart News that Ryan’s team did in fact edit the document. Allison said Ryan’s staff discovered the claim was in fact incorrect and then edited the document on Tuesday, Dec. 10–two days before the House vote. But Allison would not answer when asked multiple times if Ryan and his committee staff notified House members of the significant change to that document–which may in fact have led to a decision for some House members on which way they would have voted on the bill.

“The original version of that document had incorrect information,” Allison said in an email. “It was corrected as soon as the error was discovered on the evening of Tuesday, December 10, well before the House considered the legislation.”

While Allison would not answer whether whether Ryan and his committee staff notified House members of the correction to the document, Allison did say that committees other than Ryan’s had correct information on the matter on their websites.

That all seems so careless… further evidence that in the mad rush to give Democrats everything they wanted and prevent another shutdown crisis, the fine details of the agreement were not properly verified.  Once again, establishment Washington steamrolls veterans, as it struggles to escape from beneath the supposedly unbearable weight of modest sequestration spending cuts – which, although representing a small portion of the annual deficit, were the first effective spending restraints in a generation.  Perhaps Democrats and the Big Government enthusiasts in the GOP were as worried about the precedent this set, as they were about the actual dollars plucked from next year’s planned cornucopia of federal spending.

The Murray-Ryan deal is a status-quo bargain, and that’s what wrong with it.  Small as its potatoes might be, it returns us to all the old dishonest tricks and reality-warping Washington-speak… including, according to allegations from Senator Sessions, double-counting of budget savings that conceal what will amount to a $5 billion increase in the deficit over the next decade, rather than the promised $23 billion in savings.

 

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