5 Things MOAA Wants President Trump To Address

January 26, 2018

On Jan. 30, President Donald Trump will deliver to Congress his first official State of the Union.

The speech will outline the administration's agenda for the coming year and provide a budgetary and economic outlook for the nation. According to historians from the House of Representatives, Trump's speech will be the 95th time a president will formally give the address in person.

When Trump spoke before a joint session of Congress last year, he promised to spend more money on the military and to fight terrorism.

While we haven't seen an advance copy of the speech yet, here are five things MOAA would like to see addressed:

  1. Authorizing a full military pay raise. As part of the FY 2018 defense bill, Trump authorized a pay raise commensurate with private-sector wage growth. The move ended a troublesome trend of capping military pay increases below those of civilian sector workers'.

  2. Matching troop levels to mission requirements. With continued conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, tensions on the Korean peninsula, and other hot and cold conflicts around the globe, the services need the right amount of people to properly execute their missions. High operational tempos put strains on military families and can force qualified personnel to leave the service.

  3. Ending the disability offset for medically retired servicemembers. MOAA's long-held position is that career servicemembers earn retired pay by service alone and those unfortunate enough to suffer a service-caused disability in the process should have any VA disability compensation added to - not subtracted from - military retired pay. For servicemembers forced into disability retirement before 20 years, commonly referred to as Chapter 61 retirees, service-earned retired pay should be vested at 2.5 percent per year for the length of time served as an acknowledgement that service-caused disability denied them the option to complete a full career.

  4. Repealing the “widows tax.” Military survivors whose sponsors die of service-connected issues are eligible for two federal benefits: a sponsor-purchased Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) from DoD and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the VA. But current law requires money paid from SBP to be reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount paid by the VA's DIC.

    MOAA strongly believes the widows tax should be eliminated. These programs are paid for two separate reasons: SBP is a servicemember-purchased plan to ensure a continued financial benefit for a servicemember's survivor. DIC is a monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors whose sponsors die from a service-connected injury.

  5. Eliminating sequestration. MOAA understands the things we want cost money. But in 2011 lawmakers effectively tied their hands behind their backs by setting arbitrary spending caps. Congress has had to revise those ceilings every two years to prevent steep cuts to all federal programs. Sequestration prevents leaders from adequately planning budgets for real world events. President Trump's FY 2018 defense budget busts sequestration's caps by almost $150 billion. The nation cannot achieve its national security goals with the funding levels specified in the Budget Control Act. Congress needs to come up with a bipartisan way to increase spending levels to allow DoD to accomplish its mission.