*Legislative Update 23 October 2015: Hidden Retirement Fee and 52% Cost Hike

We have 1 Action Item today at issue 1



Summary of Issues

At Issue 1. we see STOP THE 52% PREMIUM HIKE Thousands of MOAA members are among the 7 million set to see a giant spike in Medicare premiums, Time is running out for lawmakers to fix the problem.. (See Issue 1 below for the details and to send an Email to our legislators.. GF)


At Issue 2. we see MILITARY RETIREMENT REFORM…AND YOUThink you’re fully grandfathered? Think again, MOAA’s Director of Government Relations, Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF (Ret), examines the new retirement system in his As I See It column. (See Issue 2 below for the details. GF)  

At Issue 3. we see PRESIDENT VETOES DEFENSE BILL Bill goes back to Congress, Disagreements over funding cause president to veto for only the fifth time.. (See Issue 3 below for the details. GF) 

At Issue 4. we see WHAT HAPPENS IF THE GOVERNMENT DEFAULTS? For starters, nobody wins, Congress has little time to act before the Nov. 3 deadline. (See Issue 4 below for the details. GF)

At Issue 5. we see A MOAA HAIL AND FAREWELL. Military family advocates transition. The Government Relations team says goodbye to one of its own and welcomes a new face. (Click on A MOAA HAIL AND FAREWELL above to see the details. GF

Collectively We Can and Are Making a Difference


FOR ALL, Please feel free to pass these Weekly Legislative Updates on to your group of Veteran Friends –

don’t be concerned with possible duplications – if your friends are as concerned as we are with Veteran issues, they probably won’t mind getting this from two or more friendly sources





Thousands of MOAA members are among the 7 million set to see a giant spike in Medicare premiums

Time is running out for lawmakers to fix the problem. Act now to send your elected officials a MOAA-suggested message.

(Click on STOP THE 52% PREMIUM HIKE here or above or go to Here is the Processat the end of this Email to send messages to our Legislators. GF)


By: Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF (Ret)Director, Government RelationsClick to read about the author. About the Author

Strobridge, a native of Vermont, is a 1969 ROTC graduate from Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y. He was called to active duty in October 1969 and began his career as a Basic Military School training officer and commander and as a military personnel officer. He subsequently served as a compensation and legislation analyst at HQ U.S. Air Force and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as director, Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management, with intervening assignments in Thailand and Germany.

His final assignment was as chief of the Entitlements Division at HQ U.S. Air Force, with policy responsibility for military compensation, retirement and survivor benefits, and all legislative matters affecting the military community. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and National War College. 

Strobridge retired from the Air Force in January 1994 to become MOAA’s deputy director for Government Relations. In 2001, he was appointed as director of Government Relations and elected as cochair of The Military Coalition.

He retired from MOAA in April 2013 but was recalled as Government Relations director in September 2015.   


If you think you’re “fully grandfathered,” think again.

We’ve told you the FY 2016 Defense Authorization Act includes a dramatic overhaul of the military retirement system that reduces retired pay value by 20 percent and substitutes a lower-value savings match under a 401(k)-style system.

We’ve also told you the new plan will be imposed only on new service entrants on or after Jan. 1, 2018.

In other words, all currently in uniform and everyone already retired will be “grandfathered” under the current retirement system.

But that’s definitely not the same thing as saying, “No currently serving or retired servicemember will experience any financial penalty from this change.”

Now that I have your attention, let’s look briefly at the new system.

Reduced retired pay: Instead of providing 2.5 percent of the highest three years’ average basic pay for each year of service (50 percent at 20 years; 75 percent at 30), it provides 2 percent per year (40 percent at 20 years; 60 percent at 30).

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP): To help offset the lost retired pay, servicemembers will be expected to contribute part of their pay to a 401(k)-like TSP.

Government TSP contributions: DoD will put 1 percent of basic pay in each servicemember’s TSP account each year. Starting after two years of service, DoD also will match the servicemember’s contribution up to 4 percent of basic pay. Matching deposits will stop after 26 years of service.

Vesting: Unlike the current system, servicemembers separating after one or more terms would be able to keep the government contributions to their TSP.

Lump-sum retired-pay option: Retirement-eligible servicemembers will be able, if they choose, to receive a portion of their retired pay as a lump sum. The option is to take 25 percent or 50 percent of the total retired pay they would draw between initial receipt of retired pay and age 67. But the amount would be steeply discounted for every year before age 67.

The new system will save DoD more than $13 billion in the first 10 years alone.

In effect, it makes people who serve 20-plus years substitute their own money for the government’s. It also makes career servicemembers foot the bill for new payouts to separatees.

We’re also concerned the lump-sum payment will entice too many retiring servicemembers to forfeit a very large amount of retired pay for a small fraction of the value in a lump sum. DoD and Congress bash payday lenders for doing essentially the same thing.
Some ask, “Why are you making a big deal about this, since it will be years and years before anyone retires under the new system, and it doesn’t affect anyone already serving or retired?”

For one thing, wrong is wrong. If these changes were being inflicted on today’s retirees, we’d say the reduced pay is not commensurate with their sacrifice. We don’t think future servicemembers’ sacrifices will be any less.

MOAA has no problems with a vesting provision, but the fact that the changes save billions even after adding this big new cost tells you this is a drill to save money at the expense of those who serve longest and sacrifice most.

All the talk about rising personnel costs is simply code for “We don’t think your service and sacrifice is worth what we’re paying you.” MOAA disagrees.

But what’s particularly wrong about this drill is it’s not just future retirees being made to foot the bill.

Because of the technicalities of congressional budgeting, the changes “scored” as having some relatively near-term costs.

And to solve that problem, Congress turned to … you.

The next time you pay more for your TRICARE-covered medications, you won’t have to wonder where the extra money went. It went to cover start-up costs for the new military retirement system that (mostly) grandfathered you.


October 23, 2015


On Thursday, President Obama vetoed the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets budgets and policies for the military.


Thousands of MOAA members wrote the president urging him not to do so.“We are deeply disappointed by the president’s veto of this bipartisan defense authorization bill,” said MOAA President Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, USN (Ret). “It sends the wrong signal to our troops and their families at the wrong time.


”It’s especially disappointing that the main sticking point involves what we see as a budget technicality.


Under the 2011 Budget Control Act, there are hard caps on both defense and non-defense spending.


Everyone agrees the defense cap is too low and jeopardizes readiness. But the President and many in Congress believe the cap on non-defense spending is too low as well. The debate over whether and how to raise the caps has Congress tied up in knots.


But a nation at war needs a defense bill, and it needs more money than the cap allows. So House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders used a technicality to get around the cap. They authorized an extra $38 billion in a wartime contingency account that’s not subject to spending limits.


The President vetoed the bill for two main reasons. First, he says (rightly) that using this one-year mechanism fails to let the Pentagon plan for the future. Second, he agrees with many in Congress that it’s wrong to let defense spend above the legal limits while keeping the cap on non-defense accounts.


MOAA believes the defense bill is the wrong vehicle to wage this battle. It only authorizes things; it doesn’t provide funding. The funding bills are tied up in a separate political fight that Congress is going to have to work out over the next month or two.


At this point, legislators are scheduling votes to override the veto. But that takes a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate, and most think the votes aren’t there. So it looks like the veto will stand until Congress finds a way to untie the budget cap knot.


What does the veto mean for national defense, and potentially for you? We covered that in a previous update, which you can read here.

 (Click on the word here. just above to see the details. If that doesn’t work, click on PRESIDENT VETOES DEFENSE BILL above and click on the word ‘here’ at the end of the article GF)



October 23, 2015

A possible government shutdown is yesterday’s news – at least until Dec. 11, when the current continuing resolution expires.

That’s all about keeping the government running.

The new looming crisis concerns the country’s debt limit, which the Treasury Secretary says the U.S. will hit around Nov. 3.

Why is that significant?

Well, national spending exceeds revenue every year, and we have to make up the difference by borrowing – i.e., selling government bonds.

The amount America can borrow is limited by statute. So when we hit the debt limit, Congress must raise the debt limit to allow additional borrowing, or else America will default on its obligations.

There’s a general consensus among government leaders, economists, and wall street insiders that a default would be very, very bad in many, many ways.

Our national credit rating would be hurt, which would mean higher interest rates on everything from student loans to credit cards, cars and mortgages.

The stock and bond markets would take a big hit, which means your 401(k)s, IRAs, and investments would, too.

Most of all, it could very well hit currently serving and retired military and federal civilians where it hurts most – in the paycheck.

Hitting the debt limit and defaulting doesn’t mean all government payments would stop.

The country would still have money coming in…just not enough to pay all of its current obligations.

So who/what will still get paid and who/what won’t?

Most observers believe bondholders would be first in line for payment. But then some level of priority would have to be established among Social Security, Medicare, active and retired federal workers and military, government contracts, Medicaid payments to states, student loans, etc.

At that point, it’s all about the politics and the level of pain.

What payments are most vital to the country? Whose screams of pain will be thought most likely to get Congress off the dime and raise the debt limit? Someone, somewhere in the federal government is likely starting to make those assessments, just in case.

But nobody at this point can say for sure whether current troops, retirees, veterans, survivors, or Social Security annuitants will get paid or will see their checks help up during a default period. It’s all possible.

There’s no doubt the debt limit will end up getting raised one way or another.

MOAA believes strongly it must be done before we hit the last available day.

The consequences for the country are simply too dire to be playing Russian roulette with a national default.




Here is the Process:  There are some minor changes below this week and if the steps below are new to some, I recommend that you review all of the steps and then you might want to copy this process by high lighting all of the steps below.  Then click on “File” at the top of your screen, select “Print“, then click on “Selection” at the next display and then hit “Print“; or print the selected portion as you usually do this kind of task.


  1. Click here onhttp://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/ or copy and paste it in your browser to put you at the  “Legislative Action Center” screen.
  2. Scroll downunder “Current Action Alerts” and below Congress click on Protect All Medicare Beneficiaries in 2016”.
  3. If applicable, at the next screen scroll down to the TAKE ACTION NOW! lineand enter or confirm your Zip code and /or hit “Go!”
  4. Or at the next screen under“COMPOSE MESSAGE” leave the recipients area checked at your discretion.
  5. Scroll down to the  “Editable text” areaand edit/modify the text of the message if desired,
  6. Insert “Your Closing” (I show ‘Respectfully), and “Your Name” and fill in the rest of the mandatory {asterisked} SENDER INFORMATION. The “Phone”number is now required by some Legislators (it’s required if your Senator is from Arizona) .
  7. Fill in the “Guest Type“, “Service“, “Rank“, “Component“, and “Status” if you want that information to show in your message (recommended).  You may be prompted to include a phone numberif you try to send the message without entering your phone number. Don’t be concerned about entering a phone number. I haven’t  received return calls except on rare occasions to thank me for my interest in a particular piece of Legislation, at which time you can comment (pro or con) to the staff member on how the Senator stands on the issue.
  8. Check “Remember Me” (recommended) if you don’t want to have to re-enter all of your Sender Information the next time you send a message. You can always change your information or uncheck ‘Remember Me’ anytime in the future.
  9. Hit “Send Message”
  10. If Printed Letter was selected at Step 4 above, at the screen after hitting “Send Message” leave “Plain Paper Style” and “Word Processor (RTF)” checked unless you have another preference. Then left click on “Print Letter(s)” at the end of the “PRINT LETTER” screen. At the File Download” alert that appears next, click on “Open”. You can then edit and print or save the letter for editing, printing, signing and mailing.
  11. For Arizona residentsbecause of some continuing problems with contacting Sen Flake by Email,you will see after hitting “Send Message” at Step 9 above that your message got sent to Sen John McCain and Rep Martha McSally, and that Printed Letter Option is the only option for getting your message to Senator Flake. Click on’ Print Letter(s) ‘ at the end of the screen to see and print a letter for your signature and mailing to Senator Flake if desired. Add any comments before printing at your discretion.





That’s it for today- Thanks for your help!