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David Zupi, West Fargo, Published January 25 2014

Letter: Cut all pensions, not just veterans

‘A careful pension cut is OK.” OK, I’d better choose my words carefully in responding to The Forum’s Other Views, a Newsday opinion article regarding cutting veterans’ cost-of-living adjustments (Jan. 18).

Let’s start with the premise that federal pensions can’t be off-limits – agree, with the caveat – all pensions. Newsday takes the opinion that veterans, and their families, who successfully and honorably retired after 20 years from active service to our nation, deserve this diminished 1 percent point less in cost-of-living adjustments starting in 2016. I mean, you have to start somewhere, right? I suppose these veterans are accustomed to leading, and if this reduction in the shared federal labor force cost-of-living adjustment paves the way for constrained responsible federal spending, I’m all in. I look forward, though not expectantly, to see the other federal employees and our federal elected representatives pony up to this shared deduction in their plans.

Pensions do indeed differ across all professions. A point of consideration is that the military profession operates under an unlimited liability clause. The teaching profession imparts knowledge to our children. The legal profession holds societies together though the exercise of laws. The medical profession heals and restores wellness to our bodies. But what is not expected, though it has happened, is for teachers to lay down their lives for a student, nor a lawyer for a client, nor a doctor for a patient. But what is expected is that the service man or woman is, when necessary, is expected to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the mission and their comrades.

So the opinion is that this “shaving” of cost-of-living adjustments to members of our community who wore our nation’s uniforms both here and overseas, retired after 20 years, that this budget deal “… will conscientiously minimize the pain for service members.” Really? I offer, it’s not the 1 percent reduction that jacks my jaw but an attitude and acceptance that this is “OK.” If we are indeed united, and I believe we are, then a full and equitable “surgical cut” to all federal employee pension plans will carry more water than this budget sieve.

We got ourselves into this situation of fiscal chaos by any number of ways, including some wasteful and unconstrained federal outlays.

Maybe we should consider directly cutting some waste to save

$6 billion over 10 years.

Zupi is director of operations, Triton Systems Inc., and a retired colonel, U.S. Air Force.