From the Honolulu Advertiser:
Talk about lousy timing. With President Bush’s popularity scraping bottom in opinion polls, with U.S. casualties rising in Iraq in a force surge that has stretched tours to 15 months, the Bush administration has said it “strongly opposes” key military pay and benefit gains tossed into the fiscal 2008 defense bill.
Initiatives the administration opposes include:
# A military pay raise for next January of 3.5 percent versus 3 percent endorsed by the White House.
# Lowering the age-60 start of reserve retirement annuities for reserve component members by the length of their future mobilizations.
# Expanding eligibility for Combat-Related Special Compensation to service members forced by combat disabilities to retire short of 20 years.
# Directing pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide the Department of Defense with same-price discounts for Tricare retail pharmacy network that are provided on medicines dispensed from base pharmacies.
The administration also grumbled that the Senate intends to block for another year Tricare fee increases for under-65 retirees and dependents.
The objections appear in a “Statement of Administration Policy” from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget delivered to Senate leaders as they opened floor debate on the defense authorization bill.
A day later, Senate Republicans, at White House urging, blocked amendments that would have shortened Iraq tours for U.S. ground forces and slowed the frequency of war deployments.