The military spending caps enacted by Congress in 2011 are unpopular among servicemembers and 80% think they should be repealed. Of those, half also think domestic spending caps should be done away with, according to the latest First Command Financial Behaviors Index, released in March.
Just 46% of civilian respondents agreed military spending caps passed as part of sequestration should be reversed. Of those, half agreed domestic caps should be repealed.
The Index surveys commissioned officers and senior noncommissioned officers with household incomes of at least $50,000.
It’s not surprising that servicemembers feel so strongly about cuts that will affect them so directly. Over three-quarters expect to be at least somewhat impacted by sequestration. Their biggest worry is over reductions in annual pay increases, a fear that’s not unfounded. On Jan. 1, military pay raises were capped at 1% for the second year in a row, although some lawmakers had proposed a 1.8% raise, which would keep pace with the private sector. First Command noted in a statement that these are the smallest annual increases in over 40 years for the all-volunteer force.
A third of military families cited a reduction in retirement benefits or increased responsibility for health care costs as their top concern.
“Servicemembers and their families are dealing with a second year of reduced pay raises, but that’s not their only area of concern,” Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, said in a statement. “They value a broad range of benefits, and a growing number of them fear that military budget cuts will compel them to assume greater responsibility for these costs.”
However, the survey also found military respondents are optimistic that sequestration will be repealed. Forty-eight percent of military families said they believe Congress will reverse it before the full return to automatic budget cuts in fiscal year 2016. Just 17% of civilian respondents agreed.