Obama authorizes 1% pay raise for military, commissaries still face shut-downs

Marines at Lejeune
Camp Lejeune Marines less than enthralled at the words from Obama, some check cell phone messages.

In spite of Barack Obama heaping praise on members of the Armed Forces during his latest Hawaiian getaway, the Commander-in-Chief has authorized a nearly invisible 1 percent pay raise for the troops, as reported by the news portal of the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) via Google News on Dec. 30, 2014. The Congressionally mandated minimum 1.8 percent automatic pay raise was axed by Obama via a legal loophole with little to no opposition from the Democrat-led Senate nor the Republican-led House of Representatives, as cited earlier this month by the ASMC. The governmentally-controlledStars and Stripes newspaper has also reported on Dec. 30, 2014, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission is still keeping alive the possibility of shutting down all stateside commissaries at a yet to be determined future date. 

While visiting a noticeably small handful of Marines and their families at Hawaii’s Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Air Station, Obama delivered his media-tagged “Christmas Message to the Troops,” telling them, “We still have some very difficult missions around the world — including in Iraq. The world is better, it’s safer, it’s more peaceful, it’s more prosperous and our homeland protected because of you.” There was no mention of the 1 percent annual hike in pay or the possibility of losing their commissary privileges.

The annual pay raises during the Obama Administration are minuscule when compared to the hefty raises signed into law during the Reagan years. Broken down by year, Obama has authorized: 2010 – 3.4%, 2011 – 1.4%, 2012 -1.6%, 2013 – 1.7%, 2014 – 1.0, 2015 – 1.0%. In the first full year of his presidency Reagan authorized raises ranging from 10% – 16.5% depending upon rank. From 1983 to 1989 raises varied from a 2% low to a high of 4.1%.

Earning less than $3.00 an hour, Cpl. Jonathan D. Porto, USMC was KIA in Afghanistan in the fight against global terrorism. Seen in video bidding a final goodbye to his wife, Rachel, and their unborn daughter, Ariana.

For illustration purposes only, an example of what a Pay Grade E-4 (Corporal/Petty Officer 3d Class/Senior Airman) with more than two years in service, but less than three years, has a base pay of $2,122.80 a month. While those serving in the Armed Forces are available and considered subject to immediate recall at any time, the same E-4 currently earns less than $3.00 an hour. Under the 2015 pay scale, a Pay Grade E-1 undergoing recruit training is paid roughly $2.14 an hour.

Other cost saving measures put forth by the Obama Administration were cited by the Marine Corps Times earlier this year, when the White House again cut the Congressionally mandated 1.8 percent pay raise down to a threadbare 1.0 percent. Seen by many military advocacy groups then ans now as yet another attack on the troops, Team Obama is also floating a “proposal to make troops pay an average 5 percent of their housing costs out of their own pockets. And proposals to eliminate the commissary subsidy — and increase consumer prices — at most domestic installations …”