Saturday, July 28, 2012

Did the Military Service Chiefs Knowingly Lie to Congress When They Falsely Testified That Rising Health Care Costs Were Crippling DOD?

"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." The United States Military Academy (USMA) Honor Code

Although maybe worded a little differently at each Service Academy, this basic concept is supposed to be inculcated into ever Cadet and Midshipman as the guiding principles for how they shall live the rest of their lives. Recently listening to C-SPAN as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army GEN Martin Dempsey (USMA 74), Army Chief GEN Raymond Odierno (USMA 76), Navy Chief ADM Jonathan Greenert (USNA 73) and Air Force Chief Gen Norton Swartz (USAFA 73) testify before Congress about Military Health Care “skyrocketing costs crippling DOD,” one has to wonder if the academies have discarded their “Honor Codes” or if the really “successful” officers just learned to lie over a lifetime of “selfless service” in order to reach the Top of their profession.

I ask because it would be impossible for any reasonable person to believe that these “honorable” men didn’t know they were lying to Congress last month (June 12) when they testified in support of Obama’s 2013 Defense Budget that “TRICARE is crippling DOD.” The Obama remedy they supported was to triple the health costs of military families and retirees, while Obama’s unionized (and heavily Democrat) civilian workers' benefits went untouched. They then turned around one month later, July 2012, and sent Congress a new reprogramming action asking to move $708 million out of the Defense Health Program accounts because TRICARE costs were less than budgeted for FY2012.

Remember, Obama’s budget proposed increasing service member healthcare payments to the TRICARE medical system by $1.8 billion in the FY 2013 budget and $12.9 billion by FY17, more than tripling the under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retiree payments! Thanks mainly to the efforts of Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), the House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Obama’s attempt to once again screw Service Members was thwarted when the House version of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorizations Act “declined to grant DOD authority to raise TRICARE Fees” which effectively killed it for another year.

So what exactly changed in one month?

According to the Pentagon reprogramming request: “The FY2012 budget estimate assumed private sector care cost growth of 12.9% for active duty and 8.5% for all other beneficiaries... . Through the first six months of FY2012 [costs actually] are growing at historically low rates of 0.6% for active duty and -2.7% for all other beneficiaries."

So one month before when all the time these “Honorable” leaders were claiming retiree health costs were exploding, they were lying as costs actually were going down and it turns out the DOD health budget even had a FY2011surplus of over $500 million as well so they had been declining for a while. Should we attribute these misrepresentations to budgeting incompetence or outright lying! Now these are smart men so I vote for lying! Also, want to know what Obama did with that “extra” $500 million is FY11 that was more important than Service members’ health, go to the very end of this posting to find out.

To their credit, House Armed Services Committee leaders are outraged over being lied to so 24 bipartisan members led by Military Personnel Subcommittee Chair Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Ranking Member Susan Davis (D-CA) fired off the angry letter below to SECDEF Panetta on 24 July.

The letter states: "The House of Representatives...declined to grant DoD the authority to raise TRICARE fees. We subsequently heard from DOD that our refusal...was endangering the sustainability of TRICARE programs… and that 'TRICARE is crippling' the DOD. This does not appear to be the case if DOD has a $708 million surplus in FY2012.... We do not understand how DOD can justify a request to raise fees on a class of people whose costs to the department are actually decreasing…. We believe there are serious health issues that our military service members and military retirees are currently facing that are of the highest priority…. We urge the DOD to use all or a portion of these funds to address the issues of military retiree healthcare, research and treatment for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, and address the military suicide epidemic that we are currently facing." The signers went on to demand further explanations about how this happened.

Now I realize perjury is very difficult to prosecute but these “Honorable” Service Chiefs and even the Secretary of Defense were testifying “under oath” when they lied to Congress and “giving knowingly false testimony” is a felony. ALL affected Military Active Duty and Retirees should at a minimum demand a full investigation to determine if their lying was at least a “violation of the Honor Code.”





** So what did Obama do with that “extra” $500 million is FY11 that was more important than Service members’ health? He reprogrammed it specifically to pay for a biofuel boondoggle where instead of buy conventional fuel at $3.62/gal, he had the Navy pay $26/gal and the Air Force $59/gal from companies named: Solazyme, Gevo and Dynamic Fuels. Guess what these companies all had in common other than hiring the same lobbyists as Solyndra, McBee Consulting? You probably guessed it, they are all run by “Obama Bundlers!” That means at the low side ($26/gal), the Pentagon paid Obama cronies $500 million to purchase less than $70 million worth of fuel – and that was more important than health care for Service Members. Shows how Obama really feels about Soldiers!

As a footnote I might add that no one should be surprised at Obama’s “tone deafness” when it comes to Military and Veterans issues given the almost total absence in the White House of anyone who has ever donned a uniform in defense of this Nation -- starting at the top with his Vice President selection of a Draft Dodger like Joe “5-Deferment” Biden. The Washington Post even noted that “the Obama Administration has the least number of Veterans since the Hoover Administration.” If you want to know more about Obama’s “Vet-less Administration,” read my previous Blog entries at:

http://old-soldier-colonel.blogspot.com/2010/10/obamas-vet-less-administration.html
and
http://old-soldier-colonel.blogspot.com/2011/02/jarrett-mistakes-vice-chief-of-staff

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