After Hanging Back, Cameron Vows to Escalate Air Strikes Against ISIS
British Blitz

After Hanging Back, Cameron Vows to Escalate Air Strikes Against ISIS

By Eric Pianin

After losing a crucial 2013 parliamentary vote authorizing military force in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron noticeably pulled Great Britain back from global affairs, effectively allowing other countries to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the alarming growth in strength of ISIS.

Last January, President Obama reportedly told Cameron that Britain must adhere to its military spending commitment to NATO or set a damaging example to its European allies. Obama and other U.S. military officials have said that Britain’s failure to hit a military spending target of two percent of its Gross Domestic Product would be a serious blow to the military alliance.

Related: Britain Hangs Back As the U.S. Pays $2.2 Billion to Fight ISIS

In an about-face, Cameron on Sunday said he hopes to step up his country’s role in the allied air campaign against ISIS while also adopting new tough measures at home to try to stem the rise of jihadist activities.

In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Cameron said talks were underway in Parliament about what more can be done to allow his country to take part in the U.S. led campaign against ISIS in Syria, as well as in Iraq.

Cameron’s Conservative Party won a surprisingly resounding reelection victory in May, and since then he has been talking about the need for Britain to step up to the plate more in helping the U.S. and other allies halt the spread of ISIS throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Although Parliament in 2013 rejected air strikes against ISIS in Syria, media reports last week revealed that British pilots embedded with coalition forces have been taking part in operations in Syria.

"In Syria we're helping not just with logistics, but surveillance and air-to-air refueling,” Cameron confirmed yesterday. “But we know we have to defeat ISIS, we have to destroy this caliphate whether it is in Iraq or in Syria--that is a key part of defeating this terrorist scourge that we face. I want Britain to do more. I'll always have to take my parliament with me," said Cameron.

Related: Why America’s War with ISIS Will Take Years

Cameron was expected to announce a five-year plan for fighting the terrorist group on Monday, according to The Sunday Times.

"I want to work very closely with President Obama, with other allies,” Cameron said. “Britain is now committed to its NATO two per cent defense spending target all the way through this decade. We've already carried out more air strikes in Iraq than anyone else other than the U.S., but I want us to step up and do more, what I call a full spectrum response,” he said on Meet the Press.

Until recently, Cameron has sought to steer his country on a centrist path that included tough austerity measures and a dramatic scaling back of the United Kingdom’s military presence overseas. Those policies were only reinforced by Cameron’s strong showing at the polls.

Since the Great Recession, the British Army lost fully 20 percent of its troops--from 102,000 to 82,000 since 2010.   

Related: How ISIS Could Drag the U.S. into a Ground Fight

British aircraft and unmanned drones have been used to attack ISIS emplacements in Iraq with more than 200 bombs and missiles, according to a recent report by The Guardian. ISIS targets included 20 buildings, at least two containers and 65 trucks. As the Guardian noted, British air operations are a small fraction of those carried out by U.S. aircraft and drones, which have struck more than 6,000 targets as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to recent Pentagon figures.

Chart of the Day: Infrastructure Spending Over 60 Years

iStockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Federal, state and local governments spent about $441 billion on infrastructure in 2017, with the money going toward highways, mass transit and rail, aviation, water transportation, water resources and water utilities. Measured as a percentage of GDP, total spending is a bit lower than it was 50 years ago. For more details, see this new report from the Congressional Budget Office.

Number of the Day: $3.3 Billion

istockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The GOP tax cuts have provided a significant earnings boost for the big U.S. banks so far this year. Changes in the tax code “saved the nation’s six biggest banks $3.3 billion in the third quarter alone,” according to a Bloomberg report Thursday. The data is drawn from earnings reports from Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.

Clarifying the Drop in Obamacare Premiums

An insurance store advertises Obamacare in San Ysidro, California
© Mike Blake / Reuters
By The Fiscal Times Staff

We told you Thursday about the Trump administration’s announcement that average premiums for benchmark Obamacare plans will fall 1.5 percent next year, but analyst Charles Gaba says the story is a bit more complicated. According to Gaba’s calculations, average premiums for all individual health plans will rise next year by 3.1 percent.

The difference between the two figures is produced by two very different datasets. The Trump administration included only the second-lowest-cost Silver plans in 39 states in its analysis, while Gaba examined all individual plans sold in all 50 states.

Number of the Day: $132,900

istockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The cap on Social Security payroll taxes will rise to $132,900 next year, an increase of 3.5 percent. (Earnings up to that level are subject to the Social Security tax.) The increase will affect about 11.6 million workers, Politico reports. Beneficiaries are also getting a boost, with a 2.8 percent cost-of-living increase coming in 2019.