Monday, May 21, 2012

Jonathan Gurwitz: 'Don't try balancing budget on heroes' survivors'

Columnist Jonathan Gurwitz of the San Antonio Express-News opined on the Widow's Tax in his Sunday column, focusing on Kristen Fenty and Edith Smith's advocacy of behalf of surviving military spouses:
While [Kristen Fenty] was grieving her husband's loss, she also came to a disturbing realization: For every dollar she received in Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, the government was making a corresponding reduction in the Survivor Benefit Plan annuity.
If insurance companies in the private sector tried to offset the death benefits of separate life insurance policies, they'd get sued to high heaven. When the federal government does so, it carries the force of law — and trims the Pentagon's budget without cutting personnel or weapons programs.
While Gurwitz makes a minor error in his presentation (incorrectly stating that active duty servicemen pay premiums for the Survivor Benefit Plan, which in practice is subsidized by the government as an earned benefit during active duty), his article makes clear how the status quo is grossly unfair to surviving military spouses. As Gurwitz observes, "Gold Star families have paid a high enough price. In a nation that is largely divorced from the consequences of war, it's unconscionable to attempt to balance the budget on their backs."

Needless to say, I wholeheartedly agree.

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