Walz Lays Out Plan to Fix Vet Benefit Cut

Created: 12/19/2013 6:34 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- He’s being honored as "Legislator of the Year" from the Air Force Sergeants Association. Now veterans hope representative Tim Walz lives up to that title. We talked to Rep. Walz on how he hopes to solve the problem that was created during the most recent budget compromise.

“We honored our obligation we held up our end of the bargain,” said Army Reserve Retiree Nathan Pike. He won't draw from his pension for several years, but as the Veterans Service Officer in Olmsted County, he isn't happy about a proposed funding cut.

"Can't we find another option isn't there another way we can cut something else,” asked Pike. A question Representative Tim Walz - a vet himself - hopes to answer.

"This nation makes a commitment to pay a pension, and you have to adjust that pension each year because inflation goes up,” said Rep. Tim Walz.

Under the new proposed budget, that cost of living allowance (COLA) would be cut by 1%. Which affects the pensions of service members who retire after 20 years and haven't reached the age of 62.

"That’s a pension and a benefit you earn and the COLA only keeps pace with inflation and if you cut that back you're cutting the pension,” said Walz.

Supporters of the budget argue that members of the military retire young and would likely join in the work force. But others see no reason why the money taken from vets.

"I think there's other places to get money other than the veterans,” said local veteran, Richard Paulson.

As a possible fix, Walz plans to introduce legislation to conduct a full audit of the pentagon, "We need to know where they are spending the money,” he said.

Walz says the overhead savings alone could easily offset the $6 billion that is scheduled to be cut, "Let’s assume the pentagon is doing things really really well and they are at 99.85% efficient, the savings that's enough to pay for this just that portion,” said Walz.

Ensuring our nations heroes get the benefits they earned is all Nathan Pike is asking for, "I hope that the government keeps their end of the bargain because we've kept ours,” said Pike. 

Walz did vote for the budget deal, saying it was either face a shutdown or find a solution to the veteran benefits. He plans to work on a solution starting next year.

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