Officials defend proposed cuts
Top Pentagon officials are defending Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates‘ proposed multibillion-dollar cuts in military spending amid competing congressional demands for both more reductions and sparing weapons programs.
Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said the budget proposal strikes the right balance. Mr. Gates has called for cuts of $78 billion. The military budget would still be $553 billion in the next fiscal year, close to double what the military got in 2001. And the amount doesn’t include funds for the war in Afghanistan and reduced operations in Iraq.
Mr. Lynn faced members of the House Armed Services Committee, including Republican Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California, who expressed concern about proposals that might jeopardize the military. Specifically, lawmakers are concerned with Mr. Gates‘ plan to cancel the Marine Corps‘ $12 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
Official doubts law savings
Medicare’s independent economic expert told Congress on Wednesday that the landmark legislation probably won’t hold costs down, and it won’t let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it. Chief Actuary Richard Foster, whose office is responsible for independent long-range cost estimates, made the comments to the House Budget Committee.
Mr. Foster’s assessment came a day after Mr. Obama in his State of the Union message told lawmakers that he’s open to improvements in the law, but unwilling to rehash the health care debate of the past two years. Republicans want to repeal the landmark.
Sen. Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he hopes the South Dakota lawmaker will run for president in 2012. When asked on MSNBC whether he was endorsing his colleague, Mr. McConnell of Kentucky laughed and said he didn’t want to give Mr. Thune that handicap.View Entire Story
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