By Jeff Mason and Mark Felsenthal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will propose an expansion of popular tax credits for middle class and working poor Americans on Tuesday in a fiscal 2015 budget designed to serve as a blueprint for Democrats in this year's congressional elections. But it codifies the president's policy priorities ahead of the November race, in which Democrats hope to keep control of the U.S. Senate and Republicans hope to expand their majority in the House of Representatives. It would also make the program available to younger workers who are not currently eligible, the White House said. "About 13 million workers would begin contributing to retirement savings through auto-IRAs as a result of this proposal," the White House said.
A US-led resolution calling for an international probe into allegations that 40,000 civilians were killed at the end of Sri Lanka's separatist war has been filed with the UN's top rights body. In a draft resolution posted on the Human Rights Commission's website on Tuesday, the United States endorses UN human rights chief Navi Pillay's recommendation for an external investigation into alleged war crimes in the final stages of Sri Lanka's Tamil civil war in May 2009. The draft welcomed Pillay's recommendation following her visit to Sri Lanka in August that there should be an "independent and credible investigation in the absence of a credible national process with tangible results".
A senior US official headed to India on Tuesday, admitting that the two countries had "real challenges" to overcome as they try to move on from an ugly diplomatic dispute earlier this year. Nisha D. Biswal, the Indian-born US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, will be the most high-profile US visitor to New Delhi since the row over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York in December. The detention and treatment of the envoy sparked one of the worst rifts in years between the world's biggest democracies and led India to take a series of measures targeting US embassy staff and interests in January.
By Mark Felsenthal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday that Russia violated international law with its military intervention in Ukraine and warned that the U.S. government would look at a series of economic and diplomatic sanctions to isolate Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to allow international monitors to mediate a deal in Ukraine acceptable to all Ukrainian people, Obama told reporters before he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The U.S. is weighing its response to Russia's so far bloodless incursion into Crimea.
By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With Russia's incursion into Ukraine reviving Cold War-style tensions, President Barack Obama is at risk of suffering a blow to his credibility at a time when he can least afford it: as he tries to convince voters to stick with his fellow Democrats in congressional elections that will help shape his legacy. For five years, Obama has practiced a cautious approach to foreign policy crises, prizing sober diplomacy and the search for consensus over brinkmanship, in prolonged conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the deliberative style that Obama's team sees as a statesmanlike attitude in tune with Americans' war-weariness, was described as dithering in the crisis over Syria, where the United States long discussed military action without committing. Facing his toughest test yet in Ukraine, Obama is once again finding himself portrayed as a weak leader, outmaneuvered by a wily, opportunistic Russian President Vladimir Putin intent on reviving the United States' nemesis.
His first instinct was to pivot to Asia, then Barack Obama was dragged back into the Middle East: now he must play a role born in the Cold War -- leader of the "West." President Vladimir Putin's blunt show of Russian power by sending troops into Crimea, presents the US president with challenges to his personal and political credibility. NATO is also in the spotlight, suddenly facing a Kremlin-engineered threat close to its own borders after years retooling its mission to combat terrorism and more than a decade fighting in Afghanistan. As leader of the alliance's most powerful member and effective guarantor of a weakened Europe's security, it falls to Obama to lead the West's response.
By Mark Felsenthal and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will strike a firmly populist tone in his 2015 budget plan on Tuesday, proposing to pay for an expansion of a popular tax credit for the working poor by eliminating tax breaks claimed by wealthy Americans. The proposal to expand one of the most popular U.S. government poverty reduction programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, would cost $60 billion, a modest amount in a budget in which the president has $1.014 trillion in spending to parcel out, the White House said. Obama would pay for the tax credit expansion by closing tax loopholes used typically by wealthy investors or employees of professional service companies such as law, consulting or lobbying firms. Even so, Obama's budget recommendation stands little or no chance of being approved as is by Congress, where Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, disagree with the president's policy priorities, such as spending government money on job training.
By David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Concerns that cuts in defense spending could erode the U.S. military's technological edge over rivals such as Russia and China are in part driving the Pentagon's plans to slash troop levels and retire aging weapons. U.S. defense officials have watched in recent years as Moscow and Beijing have tested a string of sophisticated weapons, from radar-evading aircraft and anti-ship missiles that fly many times the speed of sound, to integrated air defenses. "The development and proliferation of more advanced military technologies by other nations means that we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space can no longer be taken for granted," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week. Hagel will unveil a 2015 budget on Tuesday that includes cutting the Army by 40,000 to 50,000 troops to levels last seen before the United States entered World War Two and killing off the fleet of tank-killing A-10 "Warthog" aircraft.