March 6, 2014

Budget makes sense

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s budget proposal calling for scaling back the Army to pre-World War II personnel levels, closing military bases and making other cuts in spending for the military is a radical departure for the Pentagon after years of burgeoning budgets in the aftermath of the events of 9/11.

But Hagel’s $496 billion budget makes sense. The days of unchecked and unchallenged military spending have to end if this nation is serious about dealing with the deficit. And, with the dual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq finally coming to a close after more than a decade of draining American resources, now is the time for a new approach to defense spending.

Hagel is the first to acknowledge that the world remains a volatile place. Unforeseen events could rachet up military spending overnight, as they did in 2001, but barring such an occurrence, America must develop a new strategy focusing on a leaner military….

Hagel’s Pentagon budget calls for adequate spending for national security and the capability to wage one overseas war. While this might not be a “safe” assumption given what occurred in the aftermath of 9/11, it remains a logical blueprint for defense….

The United States isn’t about to disarm itself. Our military cupboard will remain far from bare….Cutting back on defense spending in an effort to get our budget priorities back in line isn’t about weakening us. It’s a realization that we are entering a postwar era and adjusting our military needs accordingly.

— Kent-Ravenna Record Courier

Break from sales tax?

Should the state give Ohioans a short break from the sales tax just before the next school year starts? Absolutely.

The Ohio Senate (last) week approved a plan to suspend the sales tax for three days in early August on certain items up to certain amounts (clothing priced at up to $100, for example). The bill’s fate in the House is uncertain.

The idea, which many states adopted years ago, is to help back-to-school shoppers, but it will be a welcome break in other households, too.

We understand that counties and other political subdivisions rely on state and local sales tax proceeds. They don’t want that revenue stream to be dammed up, even for a couple of days. And we know it’s debatable, depending on whom you ask and how you crunch the numbers, whether a short sales tax holiday actually helps the economy.

But here’s why state legislators should make this gesture: They owe the people who elected them. A sales tax holiday would be a long-overdue apology of sorts….

Last year, some tax changes were thrown on the table at the very last minute and ended up in the current budget without benefit of public hearings — even though, of course, the public pays the taxes….

The last-minute tax changes represent the loss of real money to a lot of real people in Ohio — they aren’t just lines on a spreadsheet. Come August, these Ohioans — including parents who have been trying for months or years to find work — will appreciate a short sales tax holiday.

— The Canton Repository