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Pentagon budget slashes Army size to smallest since World War II due to spending caps

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Monday it would slash the Army to pre-World War Two levels, eliminate the popular A-10 aircraft and reduce military benefits in order to meet 2015 spending caps, setting up an election-year fight with Congress over defense priorities.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, discussing the Pentagon’s plan for meeting its new spending caps ahead of the formal budget presentation on March 4, advanced a number of ideas that have been attempted in the past but rejected by Congress or are likely to be unpopular in a congressional election year.

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As the United States winds down the war in Afghanistan and looks to cut billions in defense spending, the Pentagon plans to continue shifting its focus to the Asia-Pacific and will no longer need a land Army of the size currently planned, Hagel said.

The department plans to reduce the size of the Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers, he said. The Army is currently about 520,000 soldiers and had been planning to draw down to about 490,000 in the coming year.

A reduction to 450,000 would be the Army’s smallest size since 1940 before the Second World War, when it had a strength of 267,767 troops, according to Army figures. The Army’s previous post-Second World War low was 479,426 in 1999.

The planned cut in Army strength comes as the Defense Department is in the process of reducing projected spending by nearly a trillion dollars over a 10-year period.

A two-year budget deal in Congress in December gave the department some relief from the cuts, but still forced it to reduce spending in the 2014 fiscal year by $30 billion.

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The Pentagon’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year is $496 billion, about the same as 2014 but still lower than had envisioned last year.

(Reporting by David Alexander, Andrea Shalal and Phil Stewart; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Breaking Banner

Russia went looking for puppets in America — and they found Trump and the Republicans

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The Russians wasted decades infiltrating the left attempting to gain purchase in American political life. There was the Communist Party USA, of course. Established in 1919, the CPUSA grew through the 1930s and boasted a membership of about 100,000 at the beginning of World War II. A hundred thousand! Whoop-de-doo!

This article first appeared in Salon

Then there were the spinoff lefty parties like the Socialist Workers Party, the Progressive Labor Party, the Workers World Party, the Socialist Labor Party, the Progressive Labor Party — we could go on listing one splinter group after another with “socialist” or “labor” or “workers” in its title. They were tiny groups with memberships that were sometimes less than 100, and they would all deny being infiltrated by the Russkies, naturally. So would the “New Left” groups that came later, like SDS and The Weathermen. Nobody wanted to admit they were under Russian influence. Everything they were doing, from opposing the war in Vietnam to civil rights to fighting for free speech, was being done for completely pure reasons.

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CNN

GOP strategist walloped for urging Dem lawmakers to leave Trump alone and worry about being re-elected instead

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On CNN Saturday, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Republican strategist Doug Heye clashed after the latter suggested Democrats should value their re-election over holding President Donald Trump accountable for wrongdoing.

"We have to remember, this is not a trial as we think of trials in courtroom," said Heye. "This is a political process. It is designed to be a political process, and that's why this whole process is played out the way that it has so far. I would say to Maria, the Republicans aren't spending money to shore up Republicans per se. They're spending money to go after vulnerable Democrats who are going home and then coming back and telling Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership, I'm getting killed back home."

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2020 Election

William Barr made it clear this week that he’d sign off on a sham investigation into the Dems’ 2020 nominee

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

A perfect storm propelled New York's sleaziest real estate developer to an Electoral College victory in 2016 despite winning three million fewer votes than his opponent, but Nate Silver made a compelling argument that the letter James Comey sent to Congress just 11 days before Election Day announcing that the FBI was re-opening its probe into Hillary Clinton's emails was decisive.

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