The Afghan government has slapped the U.S. military with $70 million in fines as it begins to ship equipment out of the country and wind down its presence.
The fines--$1,000 for each shipping container that doesn’t have validated customs forms--are part of an escalating dispute between Afghan and U.S. officials. The Washington Post’s Ernesto Londoño and Kevin Sieff write, “The Afghan government’s demand payment is part of a broader dispute over Kabul’s authority to tax entities from the United States, its chief benefactor.”
Because of the fines, the U.S. military is relying more heavily on air transportation, adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the costs of the drawdown at a time when the Pentagon is already coping with steep budget cuts.
Just last month, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reported that the Afghan government had collected nearly $1 billion in business taxes and fines from U.S. contractors and hundreds of millions more in “improper fees.” - Read more at The Washington Post
OBAMA STUMPS FOR HIS HEALTH LAW Flanked by middle-class Americans, President Obama will today deliver remarks at 11:25 a.m. promoting Obamacare as part of the White House’s final summer push to popularize the law before key provisions are implemented this fall.
The president will be focusing on the medical loss ration, a provision that has been in place since 2011. It requires insurers to spend 80 to 85 percent of the premiums collected on medical care, while leaving 15 to 20 percent for overhead and profits. According to the White House estimates, more than 8.5 million families have received rebates averaging $100 from the provision. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
38 TIMES A CHARM FOR HOUSE TO SCRAP OBAMACARE? The president’s remarks come just as House Republicans are preparing to vote to require the Obama administration to delay the individual insurance mandate, just as it recently postponed the employer mandate. If approved, the measure will be the 38th time the House has passed a bill to repeal or scale back Obamacare. – Read more at USA Today
SENATE CLOSES IN ON STUDENT LOAN DEAL A bipartisan group of senators reached a tentative deal on student loans Wednesday night that ties rates on new subsidized Stafford loans to the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.05 percent for undergraduates with a cap of 8.25 percent. The bill has support from the White House and Sen. Tom Harken (D-IA) chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. A vote could come as early as today or later next week. - Read more at Politico
WHY IS DOD BUYING A $223 M DRONE IT DOESN’T WANT? The Fiscal Times’ David Francis writes, “What the Pentagon wants and what they get are often two different things… In this case, the decision was made by Northrup Grumman – the drone’s manufacturer -- and a few lawmakers who ‘do business’ with Grumman. The pressure was so intense that the Pentagon caved and agreed to buy the machines that will probably never get off the ground.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times