After lawmakers rescinded a modest COLA adjustment for working-age military retirees last week, Congressional Quarterly (CQ) spoke with several budget experts who noted how difficult it will be to enact a long-term fiscal sustainability plan.

Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, said the military COLA repeal is “not a great confidence builder in entitlement reform.” He added, “this was the one hard choice that was made in the budget deal and it did signal that military pay and retirements had to be one of the things that were considered. And then they fall all over themselves to reverse it. I don’t know how they’re going to do any major entitlement reform if they can’t stomach something like this.”

Bixby also noted that changes to military personnel benefits would be easier to uphold if it was included in a grand bargain that made changes to other benefit programs, like Social Security and Medicaid.

“The veterans were able to argue that they were being singled out, and they have a point,” Bixby said. He added, “a broader deal would have been much harder to argue for reversing if there had been a whole bunch of hard choices made.”

The CQ article, “With Pension Vote, Congress Proves Durability of Mandatory Spending” noted that mandatory spending programs, driven largely by Social Security and Medicaid, will be the main source of federal budget growth over the next decade. Many budget experts note these programs are the cause of country’s long-term debt problems.