Why is it so hard to cut Pentagon spending?
Initially the budget agreement would curbs pension increases for all military retirees under age 62. Instead of keeping up with inflation, pensions would rise by one percent less than the inflation rate. But disabled veterans were accidentally included. Everyone agreed they should be exempt from the cuts. And at the last minute, veterans’ survivors were also exempted.
Retired colonel Mike Barron is a lobbyist for the Military Officers Association of America. He says nobody’s pension should be cut.
"It’s very unfair, and it’s harmful," he explains. "It’s a breach of faith.”
And the lobbying is effective. The Pentagon runs into a brick wall in Congress, even when it tries to make minor cutbacks in personnel.
Lawrence Korb is a former assistant defense secretary for manpower. He says the military is straying away from its core mission.
"We’re going to be like General Motors or something," he says. "We’re going to spend more and more on people who used to make things rather than people making them now."
Meanwhile, the cost of military pay and benefits has doubled over the past ten years.