Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

January 3, 2014

Fed budget provision draws veterans’ ire

TAHLEQUAH — At the 11th hour, the U.S. Congress finally reached a budget agreement - a compromise, some would say, between political parties.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 was passed by the House Dec. 12, 2013; the Senate on Dec. 18, and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 26.

One provision within the budget is under fire from U.S. veterans. According to a report by the Washington Post, the provision, written by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., reduces pension increases for working-age military retirees by 1 percent. The provision excludes disabled retirees and survivors of those killed in action, and takes effect in 2015.

Tony O’seland is a U.S. Navy veteran, serving from Dec. 25, 1973 to Dec. 25, 1977. He is now a lecturer at Northeastern State University and is outraged at the cuts to cost-of-living adjustments for veterans.

“Yes, the new outrage by Congress will affect me, because we only received a 1.5 percent COLA in spite of what the press was told,” said O’seland. If they take away that 1 percent, it means we are now working at around 15 percent below the standard cost of living.”

Former Oklahoma Sen. Jim Wilson, also a veteran, said he does not receive military retirement and although the provision will not affect him, he believes the government has an obligation to abide by the agreement made with military retirees.

“It appears Congress thinks that doesn’t apply to COLAs,” said Wilson. “In fact, some health care benefits promised veterans and their dependents have been reneged on over the years.”

O’seland confirmed Wilson’s assertion, pointing out he’d lost his disability rating during the Reagan administration.

“I’m only rated a 10 percent [disability] currently, and rumor has it that those of us rated under 50 percent could lose our disabilities completely,” said O’seland. “Along with the call to cut retirement benefits, family allowances, medical benefits and more, it seems that once again the current administration [both parties] are looking to distance themselves from the contractual agreement made when we were drafted or we enlisted. Promises, legal agreements, were made to each service  person, and every year Congress abrogates its responsibility to those who help them hold power by playing Brutus to a supposed Caesar. It was no wonder the Praetorian Guard turned against the Caesars when they were threatened with death and dissolution for their dedication.”

Wilson: Policy consistent with other proposals

According to Wilson, the provision affects veterans who retire from the military before age 62. The military still allows people to retire after 20 years of service with one-half pay. Conceivably, a person can retire as early as age 38. After reaching age 62, the COLA rate is restored retroactively to adjust future benefits, said Wilson. The amount lost is not restored, but the 62-year-old will have the same adjustment as if the budget provision had not reduced the COLA.

“The policy is consistent with other proposals in Congress, which we will probably see after the 2014 election cycle,” said Wilson. “One of those proposals is to reduce Social Security COLAs by using a method cleverly called ‘chained CPI.” It suggests, for instance, that older people eat more chicken than beef; therefore, recipients of Social Security should not be compensated for beef inflation. Of course, the same logic can suggest older people substitute beans for meat.”

Wilson said the purpose of such policies is to reduce entitlement spending.

“Congress would have us believe that reducing entitlement spending is the only solution to budget deficits,” said Wilson. “Whereas the potential ‘chained CPI’ changes to Social Security is abstract enough to fool the recipients, reducing the COLAs fore retired military under 62 years of age seems abrasive. The calculus must be the public won’t sympathize with relatively young people receiving a retirement check in general, or a COLA, or whatever.”

Local veterans believe other areas of budget  could be cut

O’seland believes the federal budget is fraught with programs that could be cut before slashing benefits to those who serve their country.

“In my opinion, programs such as the Osprey VTOL airplane, the engines for the new superfighter aircraft that fit nothing we own but are still being produced because of lobbyist action [could be cut],” said O’seland. “Congressional benefits such as the free food, gymnasiums, postage and pay raises need to be either completely done away with or curtailed in order to meet existing commitments. In real life, if we make legal financial obligations, we meet them, even if it means cutting out a hobby or a pet project.”

Wilson said budget priorities are in the eye of each person in Congress, and are often tied to re-election ambitions.

“It seems reasonable to reduce spending by eliminating defense systems the Pentagon doesn’t want, address the $80 billion in Medicare fraud, eliminate Medicare Advantage, which is merely a gift to insurance companies, or reduce or eliminate subsidies for gas or oil companies,” said Wilson. “Congressional House races cost about $2 million, and Senate races cost about $6 million. That’s $1 million per year each person in Congress must raise. It’s easier to get that money from defense contractors, oil producers and insurance companies than retirees.”

Wilson said it makes sense to look at revenue sources like a small transaction tax on financial activity - the absence of which is one cause of income disparity.

“Wall Street has more political clout than retirees,” he said. “The retirees should be incensed. Instead of feeling despair, they need to convince individuals in Congress that they will lose their jobs if they can’t fix this. It’s that seam fear of losing their jobs that keeps them from voting against other special interests.”

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

To read provisions contained in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, go to tahlequahTDP.com.

tsnell@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ts-Trail-show-1.jpg Jackson takes prize

    Cherokee Heritage Center Museum Curator Mickel Yantz kicked off his 10th anniversary at the venue with the opening of the 43rd annual Trail of Tears Art Show this past Friday.
    “The Trail of Tears show was my first exhibit opening when I arrived 10 years ago,” said Yantz. “Since that time, the show has changed so dramatically; we’ve added so many new artists, and the art work has excelled over time. It’s like Christmas for me.”
    Yantz said he was exceptionally pleased with the opening reception.
    “We had a fantastic turnout,” said Yantz. “We had a lot of fun and sold some artwork, which is great for opening night.”
    The exhibit is on display at the Cherokee Heritage Center through May 26. This year’s show features 130 pieces of art spanning eight different categories, including basketry, graphics, jewelry, miniature, painting, pottery and sculpture.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • churchguy.jpg Some NSU students find Church of Monett offensive

    They turn heads every time they show up on campus, and some students at Northeastern State University are offended by their presence.
    The Church of Monett, Mo., has made periodic trips to Tahlequah to stage quiet demonstrations in public campus spaces in recent years. They carry signs that read, “Wives, Obey your Husbands,”; “To be Married to the divorced is Adultery”; and “Don’t be deceived: fornicators homosexuals idolaters adulterers thieves drunkards - shall not inherit God’s Kingdom.”

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teen sent to hospital after being struck by tractor-trailer

    An 18-year-old Tahlequah man was struck by a tractor-trailer early Tuesday morning on the State Highway 51 bypass near Mimosa Lane.
    Tahlequah Police Capt. Tom Jones said officers responded to the scene at about 5:40 a.m., when Sage Sohns was found injured and lying in the road. A medical helicopter responded to the scene to transport Sohns to a Tulsa hospital, where he was being treated for a closed-head injury, police said.

    April 16, 2014

  • TPS board hears architect presentations for cafeteria

    Members of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education heard from four architectural firms seeking a contract for construction at Cherokee Elementary School.
    TPS plans to build a cafeteria-auditorium and a music room with a stage, which may also serve as a safe room during storms.

    April 16, 2014

  • Briggs.jpg Local man hit with assault, burglary charges

    Prosecutors have formally charged a Tahlequah man accused of breaking into a motel room, tying a rope around a man’s neck and stabbing him repeatedly with a syringe.
    Jimmy Dale Briggs Jr., 33, is charged with first-degree burglary, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of threatening to perform an act of violence.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boy whose mom scolded deputies in trouble again

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 15-year-old theft suspect Monday night after he allegedly assaulted his brother.
    Deputy Kim Novak said authorities were dispatched to a home and ultimately took the teen into custody. While there, they also discovered items that had been reported stolen, including a bed and several tools.
    Novak said the teen is the same boy who has previously been found to be in possession of stolen items.

    April 16, 2014

  • plane-crash-1-a.jpg Plane crash victims recovering

    Two Arkansas men remained in a Tulsa hospital Monday after the plane they were flying crashed into a wooded area in Cookson.
    According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the 1946 Ercoupe 415 crashed under “unknown circumstances” about a mile from the Tenkiller Air Park in Cookson Saturday morning.
    The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says 75-year-old John McCreary and 85-year-old Albert Demarco Jr., both of Ozark, Ark., were flown from Cookson to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • walker-terrance.jpg Man taken for blood sample confuses hospital with hotel

    Tahlequah police say an Austin, Texas, man stopped Saturday mistook a local hospital for a hotel when he was taken to have his blood drawn.
    Officer Cory Keele’s affidavit says 20-year-old Terrance Walker was driving south on Muskogee Avenue at about 2 a.m. Saturday, swerving from one line to another.
    Keele tried to stop the car near Muskogee and Chickasaw, and Walker eventually slowed to a stop near South Street.
    Walker opened the car door as Keele approached. The officer said Walker had dilated pupils.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • ennis-scottie.jpg Knife-cutting incident lands man in jail

    A Tahlequah man jailed for allegedly cutting a woman with a kitchen knife was released on a recognizance bond Monday.
    Scottie Lee Ennis, 42, was arrested after Officer Austin Yates was sent to Tahlequah City Hospital late Friday night.
    There, Yates spoke with Jennifer Pennell, who had apparently suffered a stab wound to her arm.
    Pennell told Yates she and her husband, Ennis, had gone to Dewain’s Place earlier in the evening, and while at the bar, a man bought her a drink.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • hawley-jeremy.jpg Tahlequah man bonds out after arrest for assault

    A 22-year-old Tahlequah man bonded out of jail Monday after his weekend arrest on domestic assault charges.
    Jeremy Hawley was booked into jail Sunday for domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor and interfering with a 911 call.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Stocks