One thing is standing in the way of a major ongoing effort to reset the U.S. Army, writes Carter Ham, a retired four-star general who’s now president and CEO of the Association of the U.S. Army, at Defense One. “The problem is the Washington, D.C., budget quagmire.”
The issue is more than just a matter of funding levels. “What hurts more is the erratic, unreliable and downright harmful federal budget process,” which has forced the Army to plan based on stopgap “continuing resolutions” instead of approved budgets for nine straight fiscal years. “A slowdown in combat-related training, production delays in new weapons, and a postponement of increases in Army troop levels are among the immediate impacts of operating under this ill-named continuing resolution. It’s not continuous and it certainly doesn’t display resolve.”
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated this week that President Trump has now signed legislation that will add a total of $4.7 trillion to the national debt between 2017 and 2029. Tax cuts and spending increases account for similar portions of the projected increase, though if the individual tax cuts in the 2017 Republican overhaul are extended beyond their current expiration date at the end of 2025, they would add another $1 trillion in debt through 2029.
Are interest rates destined to move higher, increasing the cost of private and public debt? While many experts believe that higher rates are all but inevitable, historian Paul Schmelzing argues that today’s low-interest environment is consistent with a long-term trend stretching back 600 years.
The chart “shows a clear historical downtrend, with rates falling about 1% every 60 years to near zero today,” says Bloomberg’s Aaron Brown. “Rates do tend to revert to a mean, but that mean seems to be declining.”
Lawmakers are considering three separate bills that are intended to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Here’s an overview of the proposals, from a series of charts produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation this week. An interesting detail highlighted in another chart: 88% of voters – including 92% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans – want to give the government the power to negotiate prices with drug companies.
From Gallup: “A record 25% of Americans say they or a family member put off treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of the cost, up from 19% a year ago and the highest in Gallup's trend. Another 8% said they or a family member put off treatment for a less serious condition, bringing the total percentage of households delaying care due to costs to 33%, tying the high from 2014.”