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(CNN) - With the U.S. economy still reeling from the Great Recession and fears growing of a double dip, it’s critical that the Obama administration and Congress keep a very careful eye on every taxpayer dollar spent.
Like all of you, I was relieved that they finally worked out a temporary fix to keep 4,000 FAA employees and tens of thousands of construction workers on the job. Had they failed to work out a deal, taxpayers would have lost more than $1 billion while Congress remains in recess until September 7. Now, with the Senate having solved the problem, we won’t lose that money.
Here are two more areas where we can save a few more billion dollars in the coming weeks and months.
The Obama administration and the Iraqi government appear to be close to a new deal that will allow thousands of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after the end-of-year deadline when all U.S. forces are supposed to be gone. Right now, there are still some 45,000 American troops in Iraq.
If they reach an agreement to maintain an American military presence in Iraq beyond the deadline, make sure the Iraqis pay for most of it – just as Germany and South Korea pick up the tab for much of the American military presence in their countries. If thousands of U.S. troops remain in the years to come, we’re talking billions of dollars. Iraq can afford to help out. It’s now a major OPEC oil-exporting country and is pocketing billions with the price per barrel so high right now.
Remember – since the war in 2003, American taxpayers already have spent hundreds of billions of dollars liberating Iraq.
The second source of revenue for American taxpayers – and I’ve harped on this before – is Libya. The U.S. still has its hands on about $33 billion in frozen Libyan assets. Deduct the approximately $1 billion the U.S. has already spent on trying to liberate the country from Gadhafi’s rule before handing over the remaining funds to the transitional rebel authority.
I suspect Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, on Capitol Hill will be receptive to both of those proposals, given the hard economic times the United States is going through right now. Let’s see if the Obama administration is receptive to those ideas. So far, officials have not committed.