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.
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