President Barack Obama has launched a series of speeches about the economy, hurling a slew of proposals in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. It's unfortunate that one key way the federal government could help the economy doesn't appear politically achievable due to the failure of vision and leadership by Obama and Congress to reach sensible agreement. That step? Tax reform - reducing the extraordinary number of economy-distorting tax giveaways and goodies that were created not out of sound policy but merely as a result of special-interest pleading.
How great is the challenge facing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in moving the military forward in a time of budget constraints and ever-evolving conditions overseas? A recent article from Defense One, a website focused on national security issues, pointed to one key matter: "The next nine months will be the most important period for United States defense strategy since the end of the Cold War. The highly anticipated Quadrennial Defense Review and, perhaps more importantly, the congressionally mandated National Defense Panel that is tasked to assess the QDR, offer the last chance to truly reshape the U.S. military for the future. If hard choices are not made between now and the QDR's release in February 2014, it will become exponentially more difficult to prevent an erosion of American military power." Good luck with that, Secretary Hagel.