Donald Trump has a problem with facts. The president invited military mothers and spouses to the White House to celebrate the 2019 pay raise at a signing ceremony. Supposedly, he was to emphasize his executive order’s goal of increasing employment for military spouses. The problem was that the man who boasts being a billionaire got his money numbers all wrong.
The group surrounded him as he signed the In the current fiscal 2019 defense spending bill or the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The White House’s NDAA made permanent the military policy of a 2.6 percent pay increase for this coming year. The pay raise was part of the $716 billion national defense bill.
Government employee unions had argued for equal pay between the military and federal employees. The Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act sets most pay rates, but the U.S. does not need to adhere to it. Congress is free to past any numbers it wants in its budget.
Twelve members of the House sent a letter in December 2017 to Trump to ask that both military and civilian federal employees have pay equality. It said, according to Federal News Radio:
‘Unfortunately, federal workers are often vilified and their pay and benefits are constantly under attack. Over the last six years, federal employees have contributed nearly $200 billion to deficit reduction. They have also had to endure pay freezes, hiring freezes, lost salaries as a result of sequestration-related furloughs and higher pension contributions. Most recently, they are reporting to work each day under the uncertainty of whether their positions will still remain after the administration’s reorganization efforts.’
Trump declined. During his signing ceremony, he said, erroneously that the military had not had a raise “in 10 years,” according to PBS:
‘We just approved $700 billion for our military so we’re going to be having the best equipment ever and next year $716 billion. … That also includes raises for our military. First time in 10 years.’
He was wrong. The commander-in-chief was thinking of the previous defense spending bill for 2018 — that he signed earlier. It included a 2.4 percent pay increase for the military.
This was an unfortunate turn of events, because the 2.6 percent pay increase was the highest the government had given the military in the past nine years. Each of the previous ten years included a one percent pay increase at a minimum.
Trump went on with his off-the-cuff remarks, bragging that he had, in essence, given them their “big pay raise:”
‘Today I’m hear to tell you that my administration is totally committed to every family that serves in the United States armed forces. That is what earlier this year I was proud to sign that big pay raise that I’ve already spoken about.
Military pay is notoriously low given how much people in the service have been expected to give, so it was completely inappropriate for the president to joke about it:
‘And I am proud of it and I guess (there will) be others too. Would you like one sooner, or do you want to wait another 10 years?’
Then, he talked about the government agencies who will give them preference for some federal jobs:
‘By taking this action today, we are leading by example and encouraging American businesses across the country to expand job opportunities for our intelligent … and highly valuable military spouses.’
The president’s executive order was meant to make military spouses aware of job opportunities and force the government to make more of an effort to hire them. That is already a law, but one that is not always followed.
Trump was well aware that more job opportunities for military spouses could mean improved military recruitment. The appropriations committees in both sides of Congress must fund the commander-in-chief’s proposed raise. The House already supports the increase.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Mandel Ngan.