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The U.S. Defense Budget: Are we overextended?

Just before the end of the Cold War the Bush Administration announced that the next year’s defense budget would be almost $300 Billion. It was a budget based on the needs of the on-going superpower standoff. It included a new generation of submarines, new carriers, new technologies for soldiers on the ground, and personnel levels that by today’s standards were staggering. Remember in 1988, prepared for a land invasion by the Soviet Union, the U.S. had over 500,000 service members in Germany.
It was a big budget, but not outlandish, and building on the Reagan era rearmament made sense. During the 1980’s we had built

Read more: The U.S. Defense Budget: Are we overextended?

VA Senate Democrats: Holding on may be hard to do

Thanks to its off-year election cycle Virginia almost never has a year without an election.  Most of us don’t give it that much thought.  But Virginia Democrats, following resounding defeats in 2009 and again in 2010 probably wish they could get a break from the electoral cycle.  But that’s not the way the system works.  In 2011, they will be defending their majority in the State Senate and given the current national climate, that’s not going to be easy.    
Democrats currently hold 23 out of 40 seats in the State Senate.  The House of Delegates will also be up, but with Democratic representation down to 39 seats, and few if any vulnerable Republicans, that number isn’t likely to change significantly.  However, the Senate is another story.  There are at least seven seats in the State Senate that may be vulnerable.  These run the gamut from first-term Senators to some of the longest serving Democratic members.

Read more: VA Senate Democrats: Holding on may be hard to do

What’s next for the Tea Party?

They don’t have a national structure.  They don’t have a campaign organization and they don’t have a massive political action committee fund.  They don’t even have a Washington Office.  And no one person is their spokesman.  But almost miraculously they had a profound impact on the outcome of the last election.  While the Republicans were viewed as the winners on election night, the biggest winner, by far, was the Tea Party.  At least two thirds of the new House membership ascribes to a Tea Party philosophy and so do a number of the newly elected Senators.  Now, the question, after such success, is where to from here?

Read more: What’s next for the Tea Party?

Does George Allen want a rematch?

It’s a quirk in the political psychology of the Commonwealth. Unlike other states, in Virginia, if a politician loses an election, either in their first bid, or in a shot for reelection, rather than come back for a second try, they usually quietly retire. There have been candidates who tried to buck this harsh reality of Virginia politics, but almost without exception, they haven’t been rewarded. We don’t do comebacks. At least that’s the conventional wisdom, but one candidate, who has never been that interested in what the conventional wisdom has to say, seems ready to try and buck the trend. Though he hasn’t said it officially George Allen is acting more and more like a candidate.

Read more: Does George Allen want a rematch?

Will new rules help Congress cut spending?

Following the 2010 election there are now more Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives than at any other time since the election of 1946.   The new majority is flush with victory, they have an agenda, and as one Congressman put it, “we have the gavel and we intend to use it.”

The House of Representatives has only met for a few days, so just how well they’re going to do at reining in spending and delivering on their promise to immediately cut $100
billion from the Federal budget is an open question.

There are a lot of reasons why the Republicans did so well in the last election.  There was certainly a “send a message” vote aimed at Washington and especially President Obama.  There was also the backlash over healthcare.  Many voters cited this as the reason for voting for the GOP.  And there was angst over the economy.  However, one concern that seemed to dominate voters who supported the Republican wave was the deficit.  With over a third of our spending now funded by debt they felt something had to change.  That’s why the House, trying to break some old habits of this historically “buy now, pay later body,” is trying to change the underlying mindset of the way the Congress handles money.

Read more: Will new rules help Congress cut spending?

Some thoughts on Virginia’s budget

My expectations for the Virginia General Assembly can at times be lofty. I have written about this in the past. My topics have included everything from transportation financing reform, to more support for open lands initiatives, more support for education and my long time favorite, establishing a redistricting commission. But this year, my expectation is simple. In the face of what has come to be called, “the great recession,” I just want to make sure they can balance the books.

Read more: Some thoughts on Virginia’s budget

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