- - Monday, December 16, 2013

The mantle of political cowardice never lies well on the shoulders of an elected official, yet with his recent vote on the Ryan-Murray budget “deal,” my congressman, Rep. Robert J. Wittman, Virginia Republican, seems to have donned that mantle with uncharacteristic willingness (“All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget,” Web, Dec. 11).

What else can explain Mr. Wittman’s support of legislation that attacks the pensions of military retirees? With Speaker of the House John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and a large swath of the rest of the GOP going on the offensive against conservatism, the resultant herd mentality appears to have cowed Mr. Wittman into turning his back on much of his constituency. Perhaps he and others like him need a quick review of the Constitution’s enumerated powers; specifically, the part about providing “for the common defense.”

As an extension of that, the federal government has provided pensions for its military retirees as compensation for their sacrifices — pensions that have largely remained untouched for 100 years. Thanks to Mr. Wittman’s capitulation, a military retiree could lose, based on a Military Officers Association of America calculation, as much as 20 percent of retirement pay by age 62. By comparison, remember the fatuous General Services Administration buffoon immortalized in 2009, sitting in a bubble bath in Las Vegas? Or the Health and Human Services bureaucrats responsible for the disastrous rollout of Obamacare? Or the “experts” from the State Department who most recently created bipartisan incredulity at a congressional hearing by displaying rank ignorance of the number of American servicemen who have been killed this year in Afghanistan? These few are emblematic of the morass of incompetents infesting an already bloated federal government. Yet their pensions are sacrosanct. Pensions of servicemen, however, many of whom have served multiple combat tours and years away from their families, are fair game as far as Mr. Wittman is concerned.

As a conservative and a military retiree, I don’t understand how Mr. Wittman could thumb his nose at an active and retired military population that makes up such a large portion of his constituency. What I do understand is that, come November, my family and I will return the favor.

DAN WILSON
Stafford, Va.