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Thank you for contacting me about proposals to change TRICARE for Life (TFL).  It is an honor to represent the people of Southwest Washington, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with me

America’s military and military veterans are integral to our country’s freedom and independence.  I am grateful for their service and sacrifices, and I am committed to preserving the benefits our servicemen and servicewomen deserve.  I understand your concerns about proposed changes to TRICARE.  I am looking for ways to preserve the program for current and future military veterans.

In 2001 Congress created TFL for military veterans age 65 and older, prior to its enactment military retirees, their families and survivors relied solely on Medicare after regular TRICARE benefits expired.  TFL is designed to pay patient liability after Medicare payments for benefits that are usually covered under TRICARE, but not Medicare.  TFL is available to all Medicare-eligible uniformed service retirees and Medicare-eligible family members or beneficiaries under age 65 who are also entitled to Medicare Part A because of disabilities.  Currently, there are no enrollment fees for TFL, but beneficiaries are required to cover their share of Medicare Part B premiums.

Multiple reports issued by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office have listed TRICARE as one program within our federal budget that needs to be reviewed to ensure current and future military veterans will continue to have access the health care they earned.  Under President Obama’s proposal the first-ever enrollment fee for TFL would be enacted to raise an estimated $6.7 billion in revenue over 10 years.  The enrollment fee would be $200 in 2012 and continue to rise.  The president’s proposal would also increase pharmacy co-pays for military beneficiaries.  The Department of Defense and members of Congress are both reviewing the President’s proposal.  My goal is to find solutions to our debt problems that will allow us to preserve programs like TRICARE and TFL to continue providing important services to our military and veterans.

I appreciate your thoughts on this issue, and I will keep them in mind as I continue working with my colleagues to ensure our military and military veterans receive the support they deserve.   Rest assured, I will not support a plan that

Thank you for contacting me on these important issues. I invite you to visit my website at for additional information or to sign up to be kept up to date on these issues. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.


Jaime Herrera Beutler
Member of Congress

MY NOTE:  This is the first reply that I have gotten from her that directly addresses and responds to something in my letter.  The phrase “balances our budget on the backs of our military and veterans” was taken from my letter.

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MAKE THE DEMS BLINK FIRST!! Click the pic for the story.

As the weeks go by and the budget debate deepens, it was inevitable that both parties were going to dig in their heels and stand their ground.  I don’t know what anybody else expected but I knew this was going to happen.  My concern was and is, who is going to blink first in this political game of chicken?  I have let it be known to all my Representatives that I expect them to hold form and make the Dems blink first, but as this report hints, the GOP may be the first to flinch, and that is just plain wrong!  As I have been explaining to people, the only way the Conservative Majority is going to win, is to ALWAYS make the Liberal/Progressives blink first, in ALL instances.  That is what is needed to stop these people’s evil agenda.  However, I am afraid that the career GOP Politicians have not caught on to the fact that politics as usual is a dead and dying institution.  These people have not come to grips with the new realities that they are being forced to deal with.  And those new realities include us being on them like white on rice every step of the way.  With all the resources we have on the internet, these “Old Guard” politicians must come to grips with the fact that they cannot break wind in DC without us knowing about it.  The failure on their part to “get in line” will inevitably lead to their departure from congress, post-haste…..  Never before in the history of the United States, have the politicians been under such intense scrutiny and incessant contact with those they represent.  Just ask my Reps, I’m sure they would agree because of all the letters I write regarding their current actions in DC.  I am sure they are sick of me, and that’s great because I know then that they hear me.  And they should hear from you too.  LIke never before, they need to hear from their constituents, and regularly.  If you don’t, they will think you agree with them.  If you don’t agree, MAKE SURE YOU TELL THEM!  Otherwise you are going to get the government you deserve….for not taking your civil responsibilities seriously…….. It IS your choice.  Ultimately, everyone must understand one very fundamental fact about this issue and many more Liberal agenda items,…  This is not about Republican vs Democrat, Left vs Right.  It IS about right vs wrong.  It is that simple.  Those who are on the liberal agenda side, are on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of democracy.  Being a Democrat has nothing to do with being “democratic”.  It has everything to do with them telling YOU how to live and governing every aspect of your life, to their satisfaction, not yours!

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I am highlighting this because I remember when the last free trade agreement was made and I remember what happened………If memory serves, when NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was signed, everyone in DC said that it would prove to be a boom to business here in the USA.  Well, it really didn’t work out that way.  Seems to me, it worked out great for everyone EXCEPT the USA.  The next thing we saw was the tail lights of our manufacturing base heading south of the border, and now they want to extend that into Central America in what is called CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement).  It is my opinion that this is just more bad decision making from DC when we cannot stand another hit like we took with NAFTA.  If this happens, I just don’t see how corporations are going to be lulled back into the States to rebuild the jobs lost when they left to begin with.  Now they will build factories all the way down through Central America.  How does that help the US Workers?  It seems by this article that they are more concerned about the workers in Columbia.  Why would that be, other than the obvious?   The logic is supposed to be that we care about the poor workers of the indigenous companies in those countries covered by CAFTA, but could it be that when US companies move their operations down there, they don’t want the bad PR associated with worker mistreatment?  Gee, could be…..  These agreements in my opinion should not happen.  I predict we will suffer for it, not benefit………

UPDATE 101211

This plan has passed the House.  It is expected to pass the Senate easily.  I predict  more US industry heading south….Say goodbye to more jobs!

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By Andrew Tilghman– Staff writer, AIR FORCE TIMES

A sweeping new plan to overhaul the Pentagon’s retirement system would give some benefits to all troops and phase out the 20-year cliff vesting system that has defined military careers for generations.

In a massive change that could affect today’s troops, the plan calls for a corporate-style benefits program that would contribute money to troops’ retirement savings account rather than the promise of a future monthly pension, according to a new proposal from an influential Pentagon advisory board.

All troops would receive the yearly retirement contributions, regardless of whether they stay for 20 years. Those contributions might amount to about 16.5 percent of a member’s annual pay and would be deposited into a mandatory version of the Thrift Savings Plan, the military’s existing 401(k)-style account that now does not include government matching contributions.  A critical new feature would adjust those contributions to give more money to troops who deploy frequently, accept hardship assignments or serve in high-demand jobs. It would also give the services a new lever to incentivize some troops to leave or stay on active duty longer.

The new proposal was unveiled July 21 by the Defense Business Board, the wellspring for many cost-saving initiatives adopted by the Defense Department in recent years. The new retirement plan would mark the biggest change in military retirement in more than 60 years and require approval from Congress.

“The current system is unfair, unaffordable and inflexible,” said Richard Spencer, a former finance executive and Marine Corps pilot who led the board’s eight-month retirement study.

This alternative plan would “enhance the ability of the service member to build a meaningful retirement asset [with] complete flexibility for their lifestyle or desires,” Spencer said.

Retirement overhaul

It’s unclear whether troops would have immediate access to all the retirement money or whether it would be partially or completely withheld until a traditional retirement age, such as 65. Under the current TSP, troops cannot withdraw money until age 59½ without incurring a significant penalty, except in certain specified circumstances.

Fairness is a key factor, Spencer said. Along with saving the Pentagon money, the new plan offer significant retirement benefits to the roughly 83 percent of troops who leave service before reaching 20 years.

Unlike other proposals to overhaul military retirement that would grandfather current troops, the board suggests that DoD could make an “immediate” transition to the new system, which would affect current troops quite differently depending on their years of service:

• Recruits. The newest troops out of boot camp after the proposed change would have no direct incentive to stay for 20 years and would not get a fixed-benefit pension. Instead, they would receive annual contributions to a Thrift Savings Plan account and could leave service with that money at any time — although under current rules, they can’t withdraw the money until age 59½ without paying a penalty, except in certain specified circumstances.

• Five years of service. Troops would immediately begin accruing new benefits in a TSP account. If they remained in service until the “old vesting date” — the 20-year mark — they also would get one-fourth of the “old plan benefit,” or about 12 percent of their pay at retirement, as an annuity. If they separated, for example, after 10 years, they would walk away with no fixed-pension benefit but would have a TSP account with five years of contributions.

• 10 years of service. Troops would immediately begin accruing new benefits in a TSP account. If they remained in service for 10 more years, they would receive half of the “old plan benefit,” about 25 percent of their pay at retirement, as an annuity. If they separated after 15 years, they would walk away with no fixed-pension benefit but would have a TSP account with five years of contributions.

• 15 years of service. Troops would immediately begin accruing new benefits in a TSP account. If they remained in service for five more years, they would receive three-fourths of the “old plan benefit,” about 37.5 percent of their pay at retirement, as an annuity.

• 20 years and beyond. Troops who stayed in past 20 years would continue to receive annual TSP contributions.

The far-reaching proposal comes at a time of immense pressure on the military to cut spending and help reduce the national debt. President Obama has talked about cutting $400 billion over the next 12 years, while some proposals gaining support on Capitol Hill would call for cutting more than $800 billion over the same period.

Military retirement costs have soared in recent years because of rising life expectancy. If not contained, they will eventually “undermine future war-fighting capabilities,” Spencer said.

A new system may allow the military to make rapid changes in the size and structure of the force. For example, troops with 15 years of experience are likely targets for downsizing, and this plan would provide them with a significant retirement benefit, Spencer said.

The proposed change would have no affect on current retirees or disabled veterans.

Most private-sector companies contribute 4 percent to 12 percent of base pay into an employee’s retirement savings account. By comparison, the current military retirement benefit, for those who ultimately get it, amounts to a 75 percent contribution each year, the board said.

The board considered keeping the current system with some major changes, but concluded that those changes would not save enough money or fix the fairness and flexibility issues.

Those changes included withholding pension payments until a traditional retirement age; reducing pensions to 40 percent of regular pay rather than the current 50 percent; or calculating retirement pay based on the average pay over a member’s last five years in uniform, rather than the three years under the current system. Those changes would save about $254 billion over 20 years, the board said.

MY COMMENT:  If this goes into effect, there will be no incentive for anyone to stay in the military.  That in-turn will gut the military of its “brain-trust” and the US Military will sink to mediocrity at best……  Just like any other mediocre country….  Not good….

UPDATED 081711


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