Military Lobby Gets Ultimate #ThisTown ‘Compliment’

An aerial view of Washington, D.C., also known as #ThisTown, where an insult often is a compliment. (Photo by John T. Bennett | Defense News)

An aerial view of Washington, D.C., also known as #ThisTown, where what is meant as an insult often is a “compliment.” (Photo by John T. Bennett | Defense News)

In Washington, there are compliments. And then there are “compliments.” Sometimes — no, oftentimes — both kinds are inadvertent. A key military lobby got one this week that was both a “compliment” and inadvertent. In fact, in shrewd terms, it might be the ultimate #ThisTown pat on the back.

Military veterans organizations last week launched an aggressive offensive to beat back a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for current and former soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

The COLA was part of a bipartisan budget deal, and seen as the kind of change to ballooning military personnel benefits experts of all stripes say is needed to spare the rest of the Pentagon budget — including weapon programs — from more cuts. Budget hawks on Capitol Hill pushed for the COLA by saying the change was a level-headed one that would have impacted a rather small percentage of active and retired military members.

But veterans groups came out full bore, arguing any change to military benefits would be unjust — no, just plain wrong. Let the inadvertent “compliment”-making from proponents of the change begin.

“I think any changes — even a modest one like this one was — is a long way off,” said one former Pentagon official. “Good heavens, if look at all the benefits [military members] have gotten since they came in 20 years ago, I think they’re in pretty good shape.

“I was shocked,” the former official said. “The veterans groups acted like the gun lobby. … This idea that you can’t make any changes should worry a lot of people.”

The former official, based on his tone of voice and over a decade of reading people for a living, didn’t mean it as a compliment. But it’s at least a “compliment” of the D.C. variety. After all, is there a more *effective* lobby in Washington than the NRA and its pro-gun rights allies?

High praise, indeed. Depending, of course, and as always in #ThisTown, on your perspective.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett