Debt & Taxes
Massive Withdrawals May Endanger Remaining U.S. Troops
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 10:43am
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Some members of the Obama administration are applying a basic cost-benefit analysis to the Afghanistan War—floating the possibility of slashing the number of troops there to less than a few thousand by 2014 , The Washington Post reports.

This is where budget politics and national security get entangled.

The push to only keep a few thousand troops compared to 30,000 troops that NATO allies and U.S. officials had previously discussed, has some military officials worried that a sudden disengagement from the current 66,000 could lead to the collapse of a frail state on the verge of a civil war.  And White House officials have yet to rule out pulling all troops from Afghanistan.

The report of potentially largely scaling back the United State’s presence in Afghanistan comes on the heels of President Obama’s controversial nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary. Hagel’s nomination has fired up the debate over military spending, with conservatives deeming him Obama’s “front man for defense cuts.”  We can be sure to expect his conformation hearings to spark a brutal battle over the Pentagon’s budget.   -   Read more at The Washington Post

IS 2013 TAX REFORM JUST A PIPE DREAM? It’s looking that way, but lawmakers in Washington are doing their best to convince you otherwise. The Fiscal Times’ Josh Boak reports that while Democrats and Republicans continue saying some kind of tax reform is both necessary and possible this year, they remain divided on the reasons for the reforms and of course, how to approach them, making it less likely that any real tax reform will actually happen.  -  Read more at The Fiscal Times

AMERICANS ARE NOT FOND OF CONGRESS…AT ALL     Genghis Khan, NFL replacement referees and colonoscopies. These things are all more popular than the 112th Congress, according to a new survey released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling. The poll shows that respondents also had higher opinions of traffic jams, head lice, root canals, and the critically reviled band Nickelback. But the survey wasn’t all bad news for Congress, since they did manage to beat out playground bullies, gonorrhea and Lindsey Lohan.      -  Read more at The Fiscal Times

ON PACE TO TOP $1 TRILLION DEFICIT AGAIN The national deficit is on track to top $1 trillion for the fifth consecutive year. The Congressional Budget Office announced Tuesday that the federal government ran up a $293 billion deficit in the first quarter of fiscal 2013, keeping pace with the $1 trillion deficit streak under the Obama administration.     -  Read the CBO’s budget review here

Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.