Fox Hides Identity Of GOP Group While Distorting Pentagon Recommendation To Boost Combat Pay
Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT
Fox & Friends Saturday hosted Kieran Lalor of the Afghanistan & Iraq Vets for Congress to accuse the Obama administration of seeking to cut combat pay for troops in combat zones. In fact, the Pentagon wants to increase compensation for troops most directly involved in combat, and at no point did Fox mention that Lalor's organization is dedicated to the election of Republicans to Congress.
Fox invited Lalor to comment on the proposed changes to combat pay; he accused the Obama administration of "almost stoking" tension between officers and enlisted troops over combat compensation differences, and that "it's almost class warfare within the United States military."
Fox never informed its viewers that Lalor's organization is partisan in nature. Afghanistan & Iraq Vets for Congress describes itself as "a federally registered political action committee supporting the congressional campaigns of Republican veterans."
Fox also displayed on-screen text throughout the segment claiming that the Pentagon report recommended cutting combat pay for troops:
The Fox segment also criticized recommendations to change the current tax-based compensation of combat pay to a refundable tax credit, which Lalor likened to a "mail-in rebate" that the federal government is counting on "a good chunk of the people" not to redeem. But those recommendations are aimed at increasing compensation for troops who are actually facing enemy fire.
The Associated Press reported:
A Pentagon review recommends ridding the combat pay system of inequities that have allowed officers thousands of miles from battle to get better benefits proportionally than troops on the front lines in Afghanistan.
The recommendations in a review released Thursday are likely to anger service members. But the director of the review said they're aimed at paying more to troops who are in the gravest danger and giving the best tax benefits to those who are paid the least.
Military officers who are not near the fight can sometimes get more in combat pay and tax benefits than troops who are getting shot at on the front lines, said Thomas Bush, who directed the review. He said the main goal was to make combat pay more equitable.
The report doesn't recommend any specific rates of combat pay or say that certain troops should get less. But, Bush said, "we suggest there be some meaningful distinction" between troops who are getting shot at and those who are simply deployed to one of many countries designated as combat zones.
And the report recommends changing the current tax exclusion-based method of combat compensation to a refundable tax credit because the current setup provides more benefit to those with higher income, not those facing a higher level of danger. From the magazine Government Executive:
The study also pointed out a "misaligned" tax code in Defense's compensation structure for combat compensation, [study director Thomas] Bush said.
Combat zone tax exclusion benefits often favor high-ranking officers, the study found. Junior personnel are typically in a lower tax bracket and thus less likely to benefit from tax exemptions; they also are most likely to be sent to the most dangerous regions, the study found.
"The tax code is based on income," Bush said. "It has no bearing on exposure to danger."
The QRMC recommends instituting new tax credits to replace the combat zone exclusion that assures members receive a full tax benefit regardless of their liabilities and are prorated according to a service member's exposure to danger.
The Pentagon report stated that with the current tax-based compensation:
[A]ctual combat service is not being appropriately recognized. In addition, the amount of benefit received is not correlated with exposure to combat or imminent danger. Often, members in those countries with the highest casualties do not receive the highest benefit; those with the highest income do.
Only on Fox News does a proposal to increase the compensation of troops in the line of fire become a plan to "cut combat zone pay."