Should We Stay or Should We Go?

Vice President Joe Biden is set to meet with his Iraq advisers today amid speculation that Baghdad may soon decide whether U.S. troops should stay in the country beyond the December withdrawal deadline. Yesterday, Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to talk about the future, and according to a statement from the Iraqi prime minister’s office, Maliki said “the leaders of the political blocs might be able to reach a decision [on the troop departure] on this during their next meeting,” which is supposed to begin on Saturday.

Biden is also still in contact with Congress, mainly Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, about the debt-ceiling situation. House Republicans plan to bring a bill to vote today that would raise the debt ceiling in two steps (the first an increase of $900 billion) and reduce the deficit by a similar amount over 10 years. The bill is expected to face pushback in the Senate and the White House. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner along with President Obama’s chief of staff William Daley and his budget director Jacob Lew are also working behind the scenes trying to make some magic happen as the August 2 deadline looms. The White House wants a $2.4 trillion increase through 2012. In the next few days, the Treasury Department is expected to unveil the plan for government operations in case the debt ceiling is not raised.

Meanwhile, the head of Afghan force training, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, has been cleared of trying to manipulate senators into providing more funding for the war in Afghanistan. Then commander of forces in Afghanistan General David Petraeus called for an investigation into Caldwell’s actions after a Rolling Stone article alleged that the lieutenant general was responsible for attempts to use psy-ops tactics on visiting lawmakers.