Marine junior officer: Cut my pay


The Wall Street Journal is starting the day with a provocative opinion editorial ($) by Benjamin Luxenberg, a Marine first lieutenant who says some troops should be willing to take a cut to pay and benefits in order to solve the nation’s fiscal crisis–and he’ll be the first to volunteer.

Luxenberg argues that troop pay has become “sacrosanct” in the national dialogue, and crucial defense programs are facing deeper cuts because of that.

“National security shouldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of military pay,” he writes.

A Marine gets help preparing his taxes aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Photo by Lance Cpl. Rebecca Eller/ Marine Corps

The statement comes with caveats: before wholescale cuts, Luxenberg says pay should be aligned across the branches and the rules changed to eliminate disparity such as the following: “airmen who serve aboard Navy ships earn ‘hardship pay’ while the sailors aboard those same ships don’t.”

In another example, Luxenberg challenges the need of TAD troops in Bahrain to receive a $142 per diem on top of normal pay and benefits.

Marines with Marine Corps Forces Central Command (Forward) celebrate the Marine Corps birthday in Bahrain in November 2012.                                                                   Photo by Sgt. Leon Branchaud/Marine Corps

If base pay needs to get cut too, he says, childless officers–those with fewer financial demands and a bigger paycheck–should be first in line to take the heat.

“The cuts should be done the American way,” Luxenberg writes, in the most controversial sentence in the piece. “Those who most need the money should be affected the least.”

The op-ed is a different spin on a widely reviled story by Pulitzer-winning Huffington Post military reporter David Wood, published at the end of January.

The piece argued that troop pay and benefits across the board were due for a reckoning after a decade of growth in federal spending on those items. “Salaries and benefits soared far above civilian compensation, military bases and housing were refurbished, support services like day care, family counseling and on-base college courses were expanded,” he wrote.

To date, the story has 72 pages–and counting–of outraged comments, many of which concentrate on the phrase “lavish benefits” in the headline, which has since been recast and the words deleted. A number of comments include stories from service members and their families about struggling to make ends meet amidst the hardship of military life. But there were officers and family members of officers who weighed in too to say, “yes, we live comfortably–but we earn every penny.”

Most remarkable about Luxenberg’s piece so far is how ready a number of commenters are to go along with it.  A number thank him for his service and say there should be more Marines like him.

Of course, it’s always easier to talk about cutting someone else’s pay than it is to talk about seeing your own cut.

But what do you think? Is Lt. Luxenberg on to something?


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  1. Well, step on up sir….I mean its not like losing say an extra $100 bucks off your lap or more would cripple you. I mean, you have no bills probably, got all the education will need for “free” and have a nice retirement in the near future (10 to 15 years guessing). But lets cut your pay say 30% for starters while the rest of the service takes a 10% cut. Lets see how well you do with that. Oh, btw the cost of living (COLA) you get will also go down, so spend “wisely” sir!

  2. Hey Lt.,

    Wipe the brown off your nose! As a young Jr Officer you may well have the most disposable income of anyone serving.

    Meanwhile, you just gave the Liberal Media a ‘club’ to beat the heck out of those who serve.

    Instead of asking why the VP gets to jet off to Paris at $600k a night, and POTUS kids get to play in the Bahamas you open your pie-hole and spit off nonsense about cutting the pay of those who serve.

    Now before you start thinking I am Enlisted know that I too am not a ‘working man’ and graduated from VMI 20+ years ago. I, however, was smart enough to stfu and listen to my Gunny.

    Next time you want to say something stupid in print write Dear Abby a letter asking why the Master Guns doesn’t like you!

    PS … I am the son of a KIA in Vietnam … try living on a 1st Lt pension with several kids as a child before you open that hole below your nose a-hole!

  3. A little wet behind the ears? What about POTUS and congress taking a pay cut? They’ve been doing a pretty good job at effing-up our financial situation(taking in 1.5T, and spending 3T) then they ask for “shared sacrifice”? How about they lead from the front? I won’t be holding my breathe. You and I, Lieutenant are already doing all the “sacrificing” we need to! Now, report to your Commanding Officer and Sergeant Major and confess that you drank the Barak Obama, socialist cool-aid and promise not to do it again, or get the eff-out of my Marine Corps and go Occupy Something. P.S I hope they send you to hand out basket balls at the gym. I don’t want to see you in charge of anybody and trying to influence them with leftist BS.

  4. The first BS that I detected was before I even read your article. Way to put your name out there for attention. Marines always are the best at PR, good or bad. Secondly, none of the pay entitlements you discussed are you even entitled to. And lastly, I guess there is a reason why you are single and childless.

    If I was the Commandant of the USMC, I would take action to cut YOUR pay immediately.

    Shut up and do your job! And next time, try writing an editorial about the millions of Americans receiving checks for doing absolutely nothing.

  5. Anderson, USMC on

    I completely agree with this Marine…military members shouldn’t get BAH, no civilian job you get, unless you are a CEO do you get perks like that. Combat pay and hardship pay is also bullshit…you joined the military, hardship was expected. Military members should only get base pay, and nothing else, except for dental, medical, educational, and retirement after 20 years and no sooner, but at 100% not 50%…unless congress stops getting 100% after four years in office, then 50% makes since. Members shouldn’t get dependent pay or separation pay, no other job pays you more because you are married with kids. – Sgt

  6. Anderson, USMC on

    Military members get overpaid, for joining a union with absolutely no skill, and no knowledge, and wants to get paid for everything. You think Chesty Puller or Admiral Nimitz joined for all the money that members get now…NO. People don’t join the military now because they will sacrifice their lives for their country, they just want to get paid. The military is the easy way, I know, I grew up a navy brat and joined the corps, and all the military I know, which is more navy, complains about pay more than actually working. Hell, sailors work a 9-5 M-F shift, and get everything for knowing nothing, and doing nothing, how is that a good business. Oh, but they will cry about how they don’t get overtime, because they have to do silly Duty, like that requires anything more than a 85 IQ and a 25 on the ASVAB. Then most will scream how they are a Veteran, but never seen any combat..SHUT UP. – Iraq Vet, Sgt. Honorable Discharge, Engineer Student.

  7. I hope nobody forfeits their pay… If you want to give it up, by all means, but to take away money to the people who protect us from invasion is idiotic.

    I know what we should do instead, take away the GI Bill, and anyone who’s used the GI Bill has to pay the government back for the amount that was used… Let’s see what Engineering Student Anderson has to say about that. Tired of Vets acting like we have it good, YEAH MAYBE YOU DID. Most don’t have it so easy there devil. Enjoy your GI Bill and Priority registration.. our brothers and sisters died so you could have those, and are still dying. Glad you’re outta my Corps. Sgt USMC

  8. Pre-commissioning programs must have made some significant inroads to enable a lieutenant to be an expert on how much money other people should make. He sounds like a Nancy Pelosi butt-boy.

  9. True American on

    I will be the first to admit there is excess spending and waste in our military and our government; however, it is not in my paycheck. This young Lt grew up in a different America than I did. His quote “The cuts should be done the American way, those who most need the money should be affected the least” is NOT the American way, it’s called socialism. The American way is to work hard for what you want and keep the government in check.

  10. Anderson, USMC on

    Hold on there Phil, talking about brothers dying has nothing to do with all the extra pay. And don’t you dare talk about brothers dying, as if you are the only one that can’t list off a list of names of people you served with. And I would gladly pay back all the GI bill money I used, once the government stops giving hand outs for Welfare, unemployment, and planned motherhood (I am okay with a women who wants to have an abortion, but my tax dollars shouldn’t pay for it, or the women who have kids but can’t afford it, why should tax dollars pay for their kid, it takes the parental responsibility away). No one should ever get paid for not working, that is stupid, and one of the reasons we are in debt. If you can’t afford your family with just your base pay, then you are living outside of your means, therefore you are a drain on our economy. A person like me who grew up a navy brat of a single mother, if I joined the military, then I would have a much harder life…maybe not physically, but financially, and much like most people, every generation of my family has served in the military since they came to this country over 90 years ago, but I am also the first to go to college. Cuts should be across the board, not just one Lt. who cares about his country.

    “Most don’t have it so easy there devil.” – Phil

    Yeah, your an idiot, you think I had it easy, you are probably neither a grunt nor in a combat MOS. Just another person who wants all the benefits….

    *sarcastically* There was some old dude, long ago with some famous quote about ” ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Asking for extra money just because you joined the military is stupid. Vietnam vets didn’t cry out for more money, but they were forced into war, now people volunteer and say that the country OWES them something.

    I agree with everything True American says, and I don’t think anyone’s paycheck should be cut, just the BAH (well only enough BAH to cover cost, not just a blanket number, as in you have to prove how much you need for rent or mortgage, if it only cost you $1150, then you should only get $1150, and if you live with two other people who are paying equal, then you should only get $384) per diem, dependent pay, sea pay, separation pay, hardship pay, and combat pay… joined the military knowing that you would be away from your family, on a boat, in hard conditions, and possibly in combat.

  11. Anderson, USMC on

    ….A person like me who grew up a navy brat of a single mother, if I [didn’t] joined the military, then I would have a much harder life…

  12. “And I would gladly pay back all the GI bill money I used, once the government stops giving hand outs for Welfare, unemployment, and planned motherhood (I am okay with a women who wants to have an abortion, but my tax dollars shouldn’t pay for it, or the women who have kids but can’t afford it, why should tax dollars pay for their kid, it takes the parental responsibility away). No one should ever get paid for not working, that is stupid, and one of the reasons we are in debt.”

    That’s your defense? Talk about hypocrite, I’m glad you have no idea what you’re talking about… This level of stupid can’t be fixed… Semper Fi

  13. Anderson, USMC on

    what part is hypocrite? Compared to those not working and not earning anything, but given everything?

    obviously, your not that smart, and probably one of the fat marines who hasn’t been anywhere or done anything….boot.

    “Hi, I’m Phil, and I joined the Corps after it got soft,…..give me… give me… give me…

  14. Who says disposable income is a bad thing?

    If he feels he’s been getting paid too much I will gladly accept $2500 of his total that he makes monthly. I’m “sure” he can live on his “left” overs.

    He probably sits around in some S shop as an alpha-zulu or something…

    I do agree that Marines should get back to living within their means and we ultimately joined under the premise that we could be in austere conditions, etc. That comes down to simple fiscal responsibility. However, I do not believe that we should doc “single officer” pay, because this Lt wants to get a warm/fuzzy feeling about himself and believes that docking single-officer pay will actually solve a multi-billion dollar issue.

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