Maryann Tobin

In front of television cameras, Republicans wave the flag in support of US military personnel. But behind closed doors, they are taking aim at their pensions.

The budget deadline of Dec. 13 is fast approaching with the threat of avoiding another government shutdown waning in the balance.

Budget chairs Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) may be close to a deal that could trim $20 billion from federal pensions.

Similar to the chained CPI cuts President Barack Obama included in his failed Grand Bargain in 2011, Ryan is proposing changes in the way military pensions are calculated so retirees will end up with less money.

According to Politico, House Armed Services Committee Chair Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said, “Forty-four cents of every dollar we spend goes to military personnel,” and claims federal pensions should be cut.

Another key item on the table is cuts to unemployment insurance benefits, which some Republicans believe causes laziness and dependence on government. On “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said, "When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you're causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy."

If the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program is not renewed in this budget deal, approximately 1.3 million Americans will lose their benefits.

With the federal deficit shrinking at a record pace, additional cuts to spending may only make life harder for a struggling working class and American military personnel.

The sequester cuts have already put a drag on the economy with cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels, childhood education, medical and science research, and the military. The next round of sequester cuts scheduled to kick-in on March 1, 2014, will take another $80 billion out of the economy.

If Republicans are hoping to crush any hope of job growth and further economic recovery in the wake of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, they are well on their way to achieving that goal with their latest plan to target America’s unemployed and retired veterans.

Author’s note: The opinions and commentary included in this report are based on the author’s independent analysis of official documents and public information.

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