June 5, 2015
is giving Congress cautious approval on moving forward with retirement
reform. After months of internal deliberation, one of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff came out in support of recent proposals on some of the biggest
changes to military compensation in a generation.
21, in a virtual town hall with enlisted airmen, Air Force Chief of
Staff Gen. Mark Welsh used messaging similar to what MOAA has been
saying on Capitol Hill over the past two years: "Don't reward people who
stay less than 20 by hurting people who stay more than 20."
January, Congress has been weighing the merits of a report by the
Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC)
that calls for reductions in military pensions and moving troops to a
blended retirement system. As part of its list of recommendations, the
MCRMC proposed cutting military retirement by 20 percent. In exchange,
troops would receive government contributions to Thrift Savings Plan
(TSP) accounts, the federal employee equivalent to a 401(k) account.
Government contributions would stop after 20 years of service,
regardless of whether or not the servicemember continues to remain in
Welsh and the other Joint Chiefs will ask Congress
to support another MOAA position: extend government contributions to
TSP accounts to troops serving more than 20 years. According to Welsh,
stopping contributions at the 20-year mark makes "no sense."
is what MOAA's been saying all along. We're glad to see the Joint
Chiefs are not only hearing, but echoing our talking points," said
MOAA's Director of Government Relations Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret.).
supports providing a portable career device for those who leave the
service prior to the 20-year point, but we have serious concerns that
the MCRMC's proposal will fail to provide the necessary draw to retain
members to 20 years of service.
Congress is currently
considering two options for military retirement. Members of the Senate
Armed Services Committee essentially adopted the MCRMC's retirement
proposal in its version of the FY16 defense bill.
lawmakers, however, wisely understood that stopping TSP contributions at
the 20-year mark would provide a disincentive to remain in uniform.
When the House passed its version of the defense bill in May, they voted
to extend government contributions for troops serving more than 20
"What we'd really like," said Hayden, "is for
Congress to take more time to study the second- and third-order effects
of these retirement proposals."
Discrepancies between the two bills will have to be resolved in conference committee later this summer.