Hi, please help me.

"The counterargument, that withdrawing 30,000 troops will make a dent in the budget (much less the national debt), is a fanciful and half-informed conceit."

My English grammar book says "much less..." is placed after a negative phrase or sentence.

For example, "He can not even read English, much less write it.

I don't think the above sentence is a negative sentence.

Why is "much less" phrase used in the sentence?

Is the sentence implying a negative meaning?
This may be a typographical error ( a typo). Did you get it off the net?
Thank you very much.

It is from Newsweek.

http://www.newsweek.com/2011/06/19/afghanistan-is-not-making-america-bankrupt.html

"Much more" is correct?
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Frankly, Tashiro, it's just poor writing (and that doesn't surprise me coming from the online edition of Newsweek).

I believe that you are grammatically correct (much more) but the use of "much less" in this sense has become so ingrained in spoken English that it is now making its way into written English. If I were an editor at Newsweek, I would not have permitted such a sentence to get online.

I would have written: “The counterargument, that withdrawing 30,000 troops will make a dent in the budget (or even the national debt), is a fanciful and half-informed conceit.”
Thank you for the answer.