Here’s the kicker with sales taxes—you can get charged at both the state and local level. So shopping in Tennessee comes at a price. That state has the highest combined sales tax rate of 9.44 percent, according to a new report released by the Tax Foundation. Rounding out the rest of the top five: Arizona at 9.16 percent, Louisiana at 8.87 percent, Washington at 8.86 percent and Oklahoma at 8.67 percent.
- Read more at The Wall Street Journal
DEMS LOOK AT LOOPHOLES TO REPLACE CUTS
Senators Carl Levin, D-Mich. and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. introduced two measures, one that would stave off the sequestration cuts for one year and another that would close tax loopholes and generate enough revenues to turn off the sequester for 10 years. Their plan tackles offshore tax havens that allow corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. - Read more at The Hill
U.S. SCALES DOWN FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN
The Department of Defense announced Monday they will be reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan to 8,000 in 2014 when the NATO military mission ends, down from the DOD’s originally proposed 10,000 troops, in President Obama’s effort to shrink the long-term U.S. military presence in the region.
That’s down from a peak level of 98,000 troops after Obama announced a surge in late 2009.
The Washington Post reports “The phased-reduction approach, which would define the shape of the United States’ endgame in Afghanistan, represents an effort to strike a compromise between top military commanders… and several of President Obama’s senior civilian advisers, who have been advocating a far smaller long-term U.S. presence…Military commanders fear that a drastic reduction in forces will erode hard-won battlefield gains, while administration officials worry that a large, enduring troop presence will come at too great a cost in dollars and lives.” - Read more at Washington Post
IS THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY EXAGGERATING IMPACT OF CUTS? A new report by the Center for International Policy says so. The left leaning think tank’s study counters the Pentagon’s claims that the sequester cuts would hinder national security and hurt the economy. The report also rejects claims that the sequester cuts would cost the defense industry more than 1 million jobs, and instead estimates between 290,000 and 500,000 jobs, less than half of the industry’s warnings. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
SLOWED HEALTH CARE SPENDING NARROWING THE DEFICIT While many on both sides of the aisle agree that health care spending needs to be reigned in, a new report by the Congressional Budget Office shows Medicaid and Medicare spending is at its slowest rate for the fourth consecutive year, and is actually helping to narrow the federal deficit, The New York Times’ Annie Lowrey reports. According to the CBO, spending on Medicare and Medicaid will be about $200 billion less in 2020, or 15 percent lower, than was projected three years ago. Read more at The New York Times