Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Saturday, August 03, 2019

Pentagon officials announced this week which programs would lose Defense Department funds to build the wall. Notably about $224 million would be taken from the Blended Retirement System, which combines elements of the military's retirement system with a system offering benefits similar to civilian 401(k) programs.

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Other programs set to significantly lose funding: $604 million that was supposed to support Afghan security forces; $251 million in Pentagon funds for destroying US chemical weapons; and about $343 million "in spending from Air Force weapons programs where officials have negotiated reductions or canceled systems," The Journal said. Funds for construction projects for military bases across the world could also go toward the border wall.

Todd Harrison, director of the Defense Budget Analysis Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Journal that while it isn't uncommon to shift funds among programs in the federal government, the size and method of the border-wall transfers were unusual.

We have many former military members that post on this blog. I hope that none of them will have their hard-fought-for benefits compromised because of Trump's sociopathy.

I think there are good faith arguments that Presidents may have some latitude on spending Congress'-granted money, but not to the extent of expressly usurping their constitutional role in controlling the purse strings. IMO just another arguably impeachable act, albeit minuscule in comparison to Trump's more brazen lawbreaking.

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-08-02 11:57 PM | Reply

Less people signed up for the new retirement plan (it's like a 401K, but you don't have to do 20+ time in service, you can let the principle grow in low cost vanguard-type funds forever regardless of time in service) than government estimates. Supposedly that is where this money is coming from.

#2 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-08-03 12:03 AM | Reply

You mean gov't employees might have to work their entire lives like the rest of us?

I'm not upset. Am I supposed to be? You can always drive an airport shuttle.

#3 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2019-08-03 01:02 AM | Reply

Update: the leftover money would've been returned to congress for reallocation because it wouldn't have been used by the military and by rules would be forfeited. It isn't retirement funds which are being raided, as in people aren't losing money entitled to them, but this could have been less government debt, hypothetically.

#4 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-08-03 03:07 PM | Reply

Most soldiers, if you are doing 20 years, dont do that particular "retirement". It wouldnt affect retirees like me.

#5 | Posted by boaz at 2019-08-03 07:47 PM | Reply

Up next Trump's spokes jerk declares many veterans have called him declaring their support for this raiding.

#6 | Posted by Tor at 2019-08-03 08:14 PM | Reply

who's building the wall?

who vetted the contracts?

there's money on the table and the trump cartel will want part of the action

guarantee you that trump is making money on this deal

#7 | Posted by 1947steamer at 2019-08-03 09:28 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2


It continues to amaze me just how low the Republicans have gone and will continue to go in order to blindly support Pres Trump.

Now it seems they are quite OK with taking money from our military branch to fund a project, the purpose of which is only to help assure Pres Trump's re-election in 2020.

I really have to wonder what the uproar from the Republicans would be if any other President had attempted such a blatantly political re-election stunt.

#8 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-08-03 09:45 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Now it seems they are quite OK with taking money from our military branch to fund a project

That's the headline, but the military couldn't legally spend these funds without committing fraud because it was earmarked for a specific type of new retirement plan which drew less converts than originally projected. Money was scheduled to be returned to Congress.

#9 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-08-03 10:52 PM | Reply

Less people signed up for the new retirement plan (it's like a 401K,

No one signs up for it.... It's an either or choice for present members.

Everyone else now entering military service gets the 401K deal... no choice.

The money being saved by the 401k deal is what is planned to be used for the wall.

My opinion... 401K was always a piss poor deal. By the time Fidelity takes all it's fees and what the IRS takes out if you leave early, not much is left. No word if you can transfer your 401K to your new civilian job. Answer I get is that "we will have to look into that..." which is MilSpeak for NO... looks like you have to cash it out and open a civilian 401K account.

#10 | Posted by Pegasus at 2019-08-03 11:45 PM | Reply

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the military couldn't legally spend these funds without committing fraud because it was earmarked for a specific type of new retirement plan which drew less converts than originally projected.

Why is spending it on some other project it wasn't earmarked for any less illegal?

#11 | Posted by JOE at 2019-08-03 11:46 PM | Reply


@#9 ... it was earmarked for a specific type of new retirement plan ...

Thank-you for showing my point rather well.

If funds are earmarked for a specific purpose, then it is not appropriate to use those specifically-earmarked military funds for a re-election political purpose.


#12 | Posted by LampLighter at 2019-08-03 11:50 PM | Reply

"looks like you have to cash it out and open a civilian 401K account."

No, do NOT do that.

Have it moved via a "Trustee-to-Trustee Transfer". You never touch it in between, so no taxes are due until you withdraw it. You can roll it over into a self- directed IRA, but DO NOT mix that money with any other, or you'll lose ERISA protections.

#13 | Posted by Danforth at 2019-08-04 01:02 AM | Reply

Military Retirement Program Money Diverted to Trump's Wall

While this is and looks bad, the funds will be replenished by congress. It's just another way for Trump to force congress to fund his wall because he knows that congress will not let the military's retirement fund go broke.

Nancy Pelosi if you're listening: do your effin job and impeach the lying POS masquerading as the POTUS. Force the hand of Moscow Mitch's and Trump's other enablers in the senate to take a stand. I believe that the evidence for conviction is so overwhelming that if the senate doesn't vote to convict and remove Trump from office that there will be enough republican senators voted out of office to tip the balance in favor of the dems by a decent margin.

Nancy, if you don't want to lead, get the f..k out of the way.

#14 | Posted by FedUpWithPols at 2019-08-04 07:00 AM | Reply

Why is spending it on some other project it wasn't earmarked for any less illegal? #11 | POSTED BY JOE

Maybe there's some type of President ability which made it okay. Believe me, I would have preferred the services keep it to use on tuition assistance for college classes, equipment maintenance, or remodeling costs. Literally anything which would benefit the services originally scheduled to receive the funds. Unfortunately they couldn't keep it and move the money around.

No one signs up for it.... It's an either or choice for present members.

Everyone else now entering military service gets the 401K deal... no choice. - Pegasus

Correct. Those who joined before December 2017 were able to choose traditional or BRS w/ matching, now anyone who joins is automatically enrolled in BRS. I moved from traditional to BRS because I'm not sure whether I'll aim for retirement and the matching is great. I'm maxing our my annual contribution/matching, and if I do retire then you get a lower % of guaranteed pension, plus what you have in your BRS.

It's a great deal, because if you leave before retirement you have something nowadays, rather than nothing. I probably wouldn't transfer the funds if I got a new job, you're able to keep access to the money management account and the index funds are lower in fees than Vanguard, but if they go with a new supplier I would do a transfer to 401K like Danforth mentioned. Tax burden on a cash out would be craaazy.

#15 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-08-04 07:48 AM | Reply

so no taxes are due until you withdraw it. -Danforth

Even if it is originating from a Roth account? There was an option to choose a Roth or Traditional, and Traditional seemed like a bad deal in comparison. Not sure who the Traditional, non-Roth accounts are aimed for.... folks who think there will be a better tax situation in the future? There would be more money to tax at the end of 30+ years of compounding interest.

#16 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-08-04 07:52 AM | Reply

No word if you can transfer your 401K to your new civilian job. Answer I get is that "we will have to look into that..." which is MilSpeak for NO... looks like you have to cash it out and open a civilian 401K account.
#10 | POSTED BY PEGASUS

For the record, this is allowed. It certainly increases career flexibility. May as well keep it in the mil account unless the index fund fees go up though, bonus points if you completely forget about it until you get the annual performance letter and reallocate funds once a year. Orrrr just put the funds in the Lifecycle plan, which allocates risk based on current age and time until retirement. There are plenty of things which don't work as advertised in the services, but I'm surprised that so far, BRS was rolled out and structured to cater to all skill levels of financial acumen.

#17 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-08-04 08:02 AM | Reply

Maybe there's some type of President ability which made it okay.

So you're speculating? You act so sure of yourself when you say "the military couldn't legally spend these funds without committing fraud because it was earmarked for a specific type of new retirement plan ." That's where your knowledge of what is "legal" ends? Figures.

#18 | Posted by JOE at 2019-08-04 08:09 AM | Reply

So you're speculating?

About how the president was able to do this (supposedly legally)? Yeah. I know the services couldn't spend the money and it was going to be returned to Congress at the end of the fiscal year.

#19 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-08-04 08:49 AM | Reply

It could be illegal for the president to use the funds, go after him for it lol. I would have much preferred for it to be used to fix housing, infrastructure, supplies, tuition. It was a lot of money :(

#20 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-08-04 08:50 AM | Reply

"Even if it is originating from a Roth account?"

With Roths, since taxes are paid up front, all growth and withdrawals are tax-free once you hit 59 and a half. But there's another advantages as well: after your first Roth is 5 years old (and remember, opening it on April 15th means it's already 15 and a half months old, since it was "established" on January 1 of the tax year it's used), all raw contributions are accessible, tax-free and penalty free, regardless of your age. Now...you wouldn't want to do that, since you'd be destroying a tax shelter, but in an emergency, it's still your money, and still accessible. IOW, if you've invested $5K a year for 5 years, and it's grown to $40K, you'd have access to the $25K you've put in, just not the $15K earnings until you get to retirement. Also, with Roths, there is NO Required Minimum Distribution once you hit 70 and a half, like there is for 401(k) plans, Traditional IRAs, and SEP-IRAs.

"There was an option to choose a Roth or Traditional, and Traditional seemed like a bad deal in comparison. Not sure who the Traditional, non-Roth accounts are aimed for.... folks who think there will be a better tax situation in the future?"

Yes, the two ideal times for a Traditional IRA are when you're in a strastospheric bracket now, or know you're headed into a lower bracket in retirement. Also, the closer you are to retirement, the more attractive a Traditional IRA looks, since it takes a while to make up for the upfront taxes paid with a Roth. Folks close to retirement who don't have a lot of savings almost always opt for the Traditional IRA. Generally speaking, the younger you are, and the lower the tax bracket, the better deal a Roth is, while the closer to retirement and the higher the bracket, the better Traditional IRAs look.

"There would be more money to tax at the end of 30+ years of compounding interest."

True, but I've got clients who were putting it away at 31% (state and local rate) a few years ago, and now are paying it back at minuscule rates (under 10%) in retirement. It just all depends on your particular situation. That said...if I could snap my fingers and change ALL my Traditionals to Roths, I would, of course. I just don't want the massive tax bill, and I absolutely WILL NOT take money out if it puts me in a higher tax bracket.

A lot of new retirees or semi-retirees live on their Roths for a few years until full retirement and full SS, then start taking money out of their Traditionals, when they have no other taxable income from work. Ultimately, having both Traditionals and Roths is a good mix, you can muck with your tax rates very easily that way. In addition, if you have a good cause to donate to at the end of your life, you'd want to give them the Traditional IRA, and save the Roths for humans.

#21 | Posted by Danforth at 2019-08-04 11:22 AM | Reply

-Now...you wouldn't want to do that, since you'd be destroying a tax shelter, but in an emergency, it's still your money, and still accessible.

I made an emotional decision recently.

My wife and I had paid off our mortgage years ago. Then, 4 years ago we bought a larger home because of the unique opportunity. Great buy but we had to borrow some.

Then my mom passed away a year and a half ago and I inherited a little money but not enough to pay off mortgage......so I withdrew $16K from our 2 Roth's to fully pay it off.

We had invested probably $50K+ in those over the past 20 years and they are worth $130K.

It's the first time ever we withdrew something from an investment account.

I should have left it i there and just kept the mortgage considering the low rate.....but I hate debt.

Now, I have no debt and that's a great position to be in while staring at college for 3 kids over the next 11 years.

I have about $90K in 529 plans as well.

#22 | Posted by eberly at 2019-08-04 11:56 AM | Reply

21 | POSTED BY DANFORTH

Thank you for this. I'm going to keep this in my notes to help explain why one would choose one over the other. Sharing knowledge is what makes the Retort great.

#23 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-08-04 01:51 PM | Reply

Most soldiers, if you are doing 20 years, dont do that particular "retirement". It wouldnt affect retirees like me.

#5 | Posted by boaz

Which means you don't care then?

#24 | Posted by jpw at 2019-08-04 08:23 PM | Reply

Thank you for your service. Now, GIMMEE!

Rich people who NEVER SERVE are a REAL THREAT to our military in so many ways.

#25 | Posted by getoffmedz at 2019-08-05 09:05 AM | Reply

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