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In calling for less spending on military pay raises, the report basically endorses a plan proposed, but not yet executed, by the Defense Department. Under the Pentagon plan, pay raises beginning in 2015 would be capped at less than the average increase in private sector pay, a move that responds to a belief that military members are being paid more than civilians with comparable jobs and experience. This happened because Congress, over Pentagon objections, has regularly provided the military with raises that were slightly larger than the average private-sector raise to eliminate what had been perceived as a pay gap. The end result, says the report, is that the average service member is receiving $5,400 more in annual compensation than a comparable civilian.
The Defense Department plan calls for a 0.5 percent raise in 2015, a 1 percent raise in 2016 and a 1.5 percent raise in 2017 to bring pay levels back in line, which the CAP report endorses.
“To its credit, the Department of Defense has attempted to tackle this problem in its FY 2013 budget request, outlining a plan that would gradually bring military pay back in line with the Employment Cost Index without cutting any service member’s pay,” the report says. “Congress should demonstrate political courage and allow the Department of Defense to execute this long-term plan.”
Similarly, the report endorses many of the Defense Department’s proposals for cutting health care costs by raising fees, mostly on retirees and their families. But the report goes a step further: “To truly restore the Tricare program to stable financial footing, the Defense Department should enact measures to reduce the overutilization of medical services and limit double coverage of working-age military retirees,” the report says.
One idea would be to modify Tricare for Life benefits for Medicare-eligible retirees so that the program would not cover the first $500 of costs per year and would cover only 50 percent of the next $5,000.
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