Opponents of COLA cut to pensions petition White House By Patricia Kime

www.militarytimes.com / View Original / December 16th, 2013

Opponents of a planned reduction to the annual cost of living adjustment to military pensions have launched a petition drive urging President Obama to veto the cuts.

The petition, launched within hours after the House approved the measure on Dec. 13, had 14,125 signatures as of the afternoon of Dec. 20. It needs 100,000 by Jan. 12 to draw a White House response.

The Senate on Wednesday approved the Bipartisan Budget Act, which includes a provision that reduces annual pay increases for military retirement to 1 percent below the consumer price index for working age retirees, until they reach age 62.

Petitioners called the move an “inexcusable breach of contract with the military men and women who have served this country valiantly for two wars.

“The very idea Congress seeks to cut military retirement pay by up to 24 percent while our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan is beyond contemptible,” they wrote.

But petitioners face an uphill battle in convincing the Obama administration to refuse the bill. The White House issued a statement after the Senate passed it Wednesday praising Congress for its unity on the legislation.

“All told, [the budget act is] a good first step away from the shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making that has only served to act as a drag on our economy,” the statement read.

The bill totals $85 billion, with $63 billion allocated to reducing sequestration. About $6 billion would come from the reduction of pension increases.

Since passing the legislation, lawmakers have scrambled to introduce additional proposals to undo the military COLA provision, either for all working-age military retirees or just for those retired for service-related injuries or illnesses.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, promised to review the COLA reduction provision when the Senate reconvenes in the new year.

“A number of concerns have been raised about the provision in the Murray-Ryan budget agreement,” Levin said. “The Senate Armed Services Committee is going to review this change after we convene next year, before it takes effect in December 2015.”

Petitioners would prefer that the COLA reductions never become written into law in the first place.

“Military retirees have risked their lives, sacrificed normal family life, and given their prime earning years to defend this nation,” the petition says.

The petition can be viewed here at the White House’s “We The People” Web site.

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