Friday, May 18, 2007

Look who isn't supporting the troops

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sure, Bush like to say he supports the troops, but, well, support is relative:

Troops don’t need bigger pay raises, White House budget officials said Wednesday in a statement of administration policy laying out objections to the House version of the 2008 defense authorization bill.

The Bush administration had asked for a 3 percent military raise for Jan. 1, 2008, enough to match last year’s average pay increase in the private sector. The House Armed Services Committee recommends a 3.5 percent pay increase for 2008, and increases in 2009 through 2012 that also are 0.5 percentage point greater than private-sector pay raises.

The slightly bigger military raises are intended to reduce the gap between military and civilian pay that stands at about 3.9 percent today. Under the bill, HR 1585, the pay gap would be reduced to 1.4 percent after the Jan. 1, 2012, pay increase.

Bush budget officials said the administration "strongly opposes" both the 3.5 percent raise for 2008 and the follow-on increases, calling extra pay increases "unnecessary."

Unnecessary? Unnecessary?! For whom? For those who are risking their lives fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? That is, inter alia, for those fighting Bush's wars? I mean, so what if their tours of duty are being extended? So what if their pay rates lag behind those in the private sector? It's not like they're doing important work or anything, right?

As with the Walter Reed scandal and the general mistreatment of veterans and wounded troops, this strong opposition to the House's recommended pay increases says far more about the extent and sincerity of Bush's support for the troops than his hollow partisan rhetoric.

For more, see Steve Benen and Taylor Marsh.

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