Getting out of Afghanistan ASAP will save billions

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But whether U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan for two days or two years, the result will be similar. The Afghans, like the Iraqis, need to take control of their country. Ironically, the people living in that country see it that way too. They want their country back and the U.S. to get out.

The $88 billion that will be spent over the next year is an unnecessary expense, a waste of money.

It’s particularly grating considering the sequester’s problems in cutting the $85 billion in cuts in government spending in the U.S.

Get out of Afghanistan ASAP and a lot of the federal government’s budget woes would look brighter. Even more importantly, many lives will be saved.

Now, getting out of Afghanistan won’t yield the full $88 billion in savings as much of the expenses are fixed costs. The soldiers are on the payroll and they will stay on the payroll. Still, the billions saved would be significant this year and in years to come.

Unfortunately, Congress can’t agree on much when it comes to money or the military.

The $85 billion in cuts is a manifestation of their political bickering and an inability to establish a budget.

When Congress reached a compromise that allowed the debt ceiling to be raised in 2011 — allowing the nation to pay its bills — it was agreed the U.S. budget would be reduced $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

The sequester — a general cut in government spending, 40 percent military and 60 percent non-military — was put in place as a hammer to force agreement. No agreement was reached between the Republicans who control the House and the Democrats who control the Senate.

As a result, the cuts are on. And they will pinch the nation, particularly the military. Many who work for the Department of Defense, for example, will be working four days a week for seven months this year and their pay will be cut by 20 percent during that time.

Things are going to change in the military as nickel and dime cuts are made to add up to more than $34 billion. It’s the old death by a thousand paper cuts. It will take a toll over time. It’s going to take a toll on morale right now.

The indiscriminate cuts to non-military will wear thin for government workers and the public (taxpayers) they are supposed to serve.

Cutting $85 billion out of a budget of $3.5 trillion shouldn’t be all that difficult. Yet, neither party would meet the other even close to half way.

As a result, the cuts are essentially made with a lawnmower instead of a sharp knife.

The members of Congress need to stop pointing fingers at each other and accept their responsibility. Make targeted cuts to areas that are not essential. Let’s start by fast-tracking the timetable to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

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