While the Republican Party rank and file on the grassroots level has made it clear to the party big-wigs that the seemingly endless game of the same old, same old needs to stop, many of the GOP faithful are still wondering if the honchos even bother listening. Frustration by many of the working-class Republicans saw the emergence of not only the Tea Party, but also of the House Freedom Caucus who many inside the DC Beltway credit for the resignation of Ohio Republican John Boehner from his post as Speaker of the House.
As reported by Stephen Dinan and Anjali Shastry of The Washington Times on Oct. 9, 2015, in spite of Boehner pulling the plug on being the Speaker, and then the so-called “heir apparent” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) withdrawing his name from consideration, the mainstream media still focuses in on status quo politicians to take the helm. As Dinan and Shastry penned, “all eyes remained on Rep. Paul Ryan.”
Other than being on the bottom of the ticket during the failed Mitt Romney 2012 Republican run at the White House, the Wisconsin Republican’s only other real moment in the national spotlight was his 2013 compromise budget bill popularly known as the Ryan-Murray Bill. As The Times reported; “He is now chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and was chairman of the House Budget Committee, where he won passage of a major budget deal in 2013, which he negotiated with Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat.”
With a partial government shutdown of non-essential services looming late in 2013, Ryan teamed up with Murray to find cuts acceptable to both political parties. Finally reaching agreement, the Ryan-Murray Bill was formally tagged The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. As CNN reporter Lisa Desjardins titled her Dec. 10, 2013 article, “The budget deal in plain English” the legalistic jargon was broken down where one needn’t have passed the bar to understand it.
As Desjardins correctly cites, one of the spending cuts agreed upon was at the expense of military retirees. As noted, “Military retirees under the age of 62 will face slimmer cost-of-living increases in their retirement pay. This is phased in over three years, but ultimately cost-of-living adjustments, or COLA, will be cut by 1%.”
Curiously, both news reports failed to mention that just a few short weeks before the Ryan-Murray deal was inked, the COLA percentage for military retirees was quietly announced. As reported by Kate Horrell of Military.com on Nov. 1, 2013, COLA for the retirees was a tiny 1.5 percent. After the Ryan-Murray Bill was done with them, the pensioners saw an almost microscopic 0.5 percent increase to keep up with the rising cost of living.
In a Congressional press release issued after the passage of the Ryan-Murray Bill, Ryan stated, “I’m proud of this agreement.” Ryan added, “And it cuts spending in a smarter way.” As noted by the press release, no mention was made regarding the paper-thin COLA increase of those retired from the Armed Forces.
The key words “Military retirees under the age of 62” pertains not only to those who have served at least 20 years active duty, but also to those as young as their late teens who received catastrophic wounds in combat that resulted in their medical retirement from the service. While various internet websites fail to universally agree on a solid dollar amount, it’s widely understood that Rep. Ryan’s personal fortune is somewhere between $4-7 million.
One of the founding members of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said his group of grassroots and small government-friendly legislators consider their mission in life is figuratively music to conservative-leaning libertarian ears:
The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them.
We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.