Last week Military Update reported that lawmakers are more interested in winning reelection in November than in removing the threat severe cuts to government programs in January.
The politics behind the threat of across-the-board budget cuts, which includes a 10 percent cut to defense programs, surfaced during a recent House Armed Services Committee hearing when some members of Congress openly admitted that making the hard decisions needed to avoid “sequestration” were outweighed by the concern for staying in their elected offices.
Sequestration is the part of last year’s Budget Control Act which requires across-the-board budget cuts be made if Congress cannot reach the $1.2 Trillion debt reduction deal on its own.
According to Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, the 10 percent cut to the Defense budget will have a devastating impact on the military. “It would be a disaster in terms of the Defense Department,” Panetta said. “As far as our budget is concerned, as far as our ability to respond to the threats that are out there, it has a big impact.”
However, to date neither the DoD or VA has offered any details as to how sequestration will (directly or indirectly) affect TRICARE, DoD Child Care, tuition assistance, MyCAA, Veterans’ Health Care, and the GI Bill. Of course, this adds to the level of anxiety for those who will be directly impacted by sequestration – servicemembers, veterans, and their families.
UPDATE: According to recent article in the Army Times, basic military pay, basic allowance for hounsing and subsistence, retirement pay, and bonuses are exempt from from the 10 percent cuts. However, TRICARE and other military health care programs are not exempt.
In fact, up until recently, the word was that Department of Veterans Affairs programs would be spared the sequestration axe. But last month Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, told a joint hearing of the House Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services Committees, that the “VA is exempt from sequestration except for administrative costs… I don’t have a definition of administrative costs right now.”
This appears to mean, that although the money may be there, there may not be anyone available to administer the claims or payment processes. Of course the logical outcome is payment and claims processing delays for veterans.