During President Trump’s surprise visit to Iraq, he stated he was granting the military its first pay raise in ten years.
“You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years!” he told a crowd of applauding service members at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Wednesday. “And we got you a big one. I got you a big one.”
Since his remarks, numerous media outlets -such as the Washington Post and Military Times have reported Trump’s statements to be “false claims” but have left out some details about pay “raises.”
While the coming year’s pay raise is clearly not the first in ten years, there are other factors to consider when determining whether service members are actually receiving a raise at all.
Unlike veteran’s benefits, military pay is not tied to the inflation rate and a pay raise can actually be a pay reduction once the inflation rate is deducted.
The U.S. economy is usually inflationary because prices are constantly increasing.
So, unless service members get a raise that at least matches the inflation rate, their salary will have a less purchasing power next year and they will be able to afford fewer items.
For example, in 2016, President Obama touted giving a military pay raise of 1.3 percent but the U.S. dollar had inflation of rate of 2.1%.
Service members actually had a pay reduction of 0.8% because their pay increased less than the percentage loss of the buying power of the US dollar due to inflation.
In 2017, the military pay raise was 2.1% and so was the inflation rate, resulting in no real change in military pay. Essentially, service members’ salaries had the exact same purchasing power as the previous year because the cost of the goods they buy increased at the same rate as their pay.
In 2018, service members saw a small bump in their pay due to the pay raise being %2.4, while the inflation rate was 2.2%.
Despite Trump’s statement not being accurate, his pay raise could actually end up being a “real” raise, unlike the past few years.
For it to be the highest in ten years, it would have to be greater than the %3.5 increase in 2008 when there was practically no inflation -partly due to the housing market crash.
If the economy keeps growing -resulting in inflation- a real pay raise for troops will not be likely not be much due to military wages only being increased by %2.6 for 2019.
“We can’t play cheap with our warriors or military,” Trump told the crowd in Iraq. “We can’t play cheap with victory. And we’re not going to.”
The only guarantee is the mainstream media will keep reporting about military pay to sway public opinion of a politician one way or another, politicians will continue to make false statements, and as usual, military pay will not change by any amount a service member will really notice.
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