Another Blank Check Is Probably On The Way

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 17:19

This is not really particularly shocking news, but it does explain the flaw at the center of the Democratic strategy on Iraq supplemental bills:

Even opponents of the war, as Durbin calls himself, find themselves likely to vote for the extra money, he said. "When it comes to the budget, I face a dilemma that some of my colleagues do," he said.

He voted against the war "but felt that I should always provide the resources for the troops in the field," Durbin said. "But it's now reached a point where we have got to change the way we appropriate this money."

Though he said he is likely to approve the increased request -- it would accompany a pending request for an additional $147 billion in war funding -- Durbin said he would work to attach conditions to it that would require troops to begin coming home in the spring.

Now, in a number of instances here, the reporter for the Chicago Tribune puts words in Durbin's mouth rather than actually quoting Durbin. However, the words that are being put in Durbin's mouth are not entirely inaccurate. The Democratic strategy, in both the House and the Senate, has always been to pass whatever supplemental appropriations bills for Iraq that Bush requests, at least in terms of the amount of money he requests. Rather than deny funding altogether, the strategy is instead to attach conditions to the money that is appropriated. These conditions include, but have not been limited to, troop readiness standards, withdrawal timelines, and benchmarks for the Iraqi government. This is even the strategy of the Out of Iraq and Progressive Caucuses, who have argued that funds should be approved, but that they should only be approved on the condition that they are used for a fully funded withdrawal. The problem with this strategy is that there is a working conservative majority in Washington, D.C. that opposes any conditions begin attached to Iraq funding. So, by making it clear from the start that they intend to appropriate the money, all that the working conservative majority needs to keep doing is have Bush veto those conditions, and then uphold the veto, until enough Democrats cave and allow another blank check on Iraq to pass.

Democrats have no intention of denying funding for Iraq. Instead, they want to use funding to end the war. However, as long as Bush remains in office, and the Bush Dogs remain unmoved, the working conservative majority has the votes to do this indefinitely. If Congress is ever going to engage in a real showdown with Bush over Iraq, then we need 218 members who would rather that the war not be funded at all than for the war to be funded without any conditions attached to it. Right now, we are nowhere near 218 votes on that front. Back in May, fully 86 Democrats voted against even going for a second round against Bush, with only two Republicans defecting to the anti-war side. That means we need to swing at least 70 votes to prolong the fight this time. Note that I said "prolong" the fight, rather than win it. Even if we get 70 votes to force Bush into a third round this time, there is still no guarantee any conditions will be applied to the funding.

The money will almost certainly be appropriated, and another 1.5% of our gross national income will be sent to Iraq. We sent along another 0.7% back in May, and the DoD appropriations bill sent another 3.5% indirectly to Iraq. That makes a running total 5.7% of our gross national income spent on Iraq and the military so far this year. This is simply not sustainable. Among other things, the Soviet Empire's war in Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet Empire. The longer we keep sending 5-6% of our national income down the Iraq sinkhole, the more likely it becomes for the Iraq war to destroy us. We need to get these votes, but it is a task I am not particularly optimistic about at this time. Another blank check it probably on the way. Perhaps a better strategy is to figure out how, in 2008, to punish those who allowed it to happen, and end the working conservative majority.

Chris Bowers :: Another Blank Check Is Probably On The Way

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fight the rhetoric with an alternative bill (4.00 / 1)
What about an appropriations bill that has money for the properly IED resistant vehicles, bullets, snakeskin body armor, etc. But no money for weapons to be given to Iraqi "police" who end up being in sectarian/political militias.  And no slush funds for bribing officials.  No money for an embassy.  No money mercenaries (even cancel their contracts).

Such a bill would give "provide the resources for the troops in the field" to keep them safe and nothing else.  Let Republicans fight for the mercs, the bribe money, the booddoggle embassy, the permanent bases, etc.

This would get all of the Dems who vote for continued funding and maybe some WINOs too. 

Truth over balance, progress over ideology

OK, but... (0.00 / 0)
Getting Bush to veto a funding bill with conditions isn't the hard part. (That assumes such a bill would pass the Congress, which is a hell of an assumption.)

It's what happens then: I agree that, if the Dems were going to take the issue of the war to the American people, the provisions of the bill would be important.

The Dem leaderships, though, evidently think that, however media-honed the bill was, Bush and his media friends would crap all over their explanations. (Which, on past performance, probably isn't a bad call.)

[ Parent ]
Another blank check it probably on the way. (0.00 / 0)
What makes them believe that it will ever make it to the troops?  What is it that they don't understand about no bid contracts, no competition, and 9 billions dollars unaccounted for.  They aren't refusing to fund the troops, they are refusing to fund Haliburton and Black Water. They must know this so why is Durbin talking about not funding the troops.

Agreed most likely outcome (0.00 / 0)
I think we're fairly safe relying on the journo's paraphrases, given that Durbin was talking to the Tribune's ed board, and being recorded for posterity.

Durbin at least voted against the IWR, which places him as a higher form of life than his colleagues who voted for it.

But he knows the circle cannot be squared: conditions to funding won't stick, and only lead to a post-veto climbdown.

Only by sending no funding bill to Bush can the war be stopped - and (my piece earlier today) the only way that is happening is by a series of (un)fortunate events that would liven up this fall no end, but aren't going to happen. (Almost certainly.)

I surprised you're shocked - but, apart from that, I agree that another HR 1591-type charade is likely what we're in for.

I've suggested it before.... (0.00 / 0)
...perhaps there might be more interest in this now.


Yeah, it probably would not happen but it would do three things:

Publicize the Democratic base's disgust with the LeaderSheep.

Give people a productive outlet for their rage as they network and build to do this.

Maybe knock off someone like Baird; at the least it would serve notice that the netroots are not going to sit back an let these DLC, centrist morons ruin the Democratic brand.

'Cause folks, this Iraq thing? It's going to get really bad and very soon. When 'Perfect Peter' wants to wash his hands of it you know the shit is only millimeters from the fan.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

This past spring... (0.00 / 0)
  ...I attended the Western Maryland Democratic Caucus annual meeting at Cumberland, and sat there and listened to our new Senator, Ben Cardin, forcefully declare that Congress was through giving Bush blank checks on Iraq, and that we were going to have some oversight now.

  I guess we're going to find out within a couple of weeks if Ben Cardin is a liar.

  More broadly, I'd be most interested in finding out what the basis is for the rationale that voting to keep this war going -- and expand it into Iran -- is a "safe" electoral decision, and improves the odds of Democrats winning the White House and expanding their "majorities" in Congress. Because if this is all about cold political calculation, it appears that our elected representatives were all in a collective coma throughout 2002.

  Bad policy and bad politics, in one tidy package. Why does the Democratic Party exist?


"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

So I'm reading about the French Revolution (0.00 / 0)
and how their bankruptcy due to their own 7-years war with England and the financing our Revolution coupled with 2 bad winters brought about the upheaval that lead to the general unrest that resulted in their fall.

I reacted to your comment that all that money was going to Iraq however. All that money is being appropriated for the Iraq War but I don't think much of it all is actually ending up in Iraq.

It would be an interesting study to look at DoD budgets, contracts, etc and the profits being posted by various DoD contractors to see just where the money is going.

Presidential Plan (0.00 / 0)
That is really what the Presidential election will be about.  Withdrawal will start if and only if we get a Democratic president next November.  Sadly that is really the only hope we have.

There is no reason to expect sane reactions from a Bush White House.  If we stop the funding, he will leave our troops there.  Even if it means more of them die.  What ever gave you the impression that they cared about the troops.

It was a grievous mistake to trust Bush to run this war, and an equally grievous mistake if you think he can handle a withdrawal.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama

Than you have little hope (0.00 / 0)
because none of the three leading candidates is very steller when it comes to actually doing thing that will end it.  Two of them voted for the IWR, and the other votes for funding all the time.  All have expressed plans that might call for us to be there indefinately.  Hillary will keep bases there.

The only way to end it is through direct action by discouraging recruitment in my view.  I am not sure why noone discusses it. The politicians just won't do it, and are a waste of time.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Another blank check is probably on the way (0.00 / 0)
Give Bush all the money that they'll raise with taxes on incomes over $100,000.  The wingnuts and repugnants will have us out of Iraq faster than Jumpin' Jack Flash!

False View of Strength (0.00 / 0)
For far too long DC Dems and their enablers have made decisions based on a false view of strength. To the Bush Dogs and other sundry cowards, the way to project strength to the American people is to support the bellicose foreign policy initiatives of the Right.

But what is really on display is their lack of courage. They are simply too scared to offer a compelling argument against the war and its funding (not to mention their lack of courage in other policy areas). When Democrats so willingly acquiesce to Bush they are reinforcing the meme of Democratic weakness.

There is nothing strong or courageous about giving Mr. 25% and his merry band of dead-enders a blank check for his misguided war. What do we say to the folks who came out in 2006 believing their vote for a Democrat was a vote to end the war? How do we explain our party's performance? All our leaders in DC have given us is the opportunity to come up with more creative ways of saying it will be better after the next election.. or wait.. maybe the one after that.

Quite frankly even I am getting tired of hearing myself say that.

And they want us to vote for them in '08? (4.00 / 1)
The democrats, especially the ones with the most cash, judging by their lack of integrity on the issue of ending the war in Iraq, will keep voting  to fund this nightmare.

Only Kucinich and Richardson have come out for stopping the funding and getting the troops out of Iraq now.

If the democrats present us with a candidate, as they seem likely to do, who has not vigorously opposed the war - and I mean NOW - not what they said in 2002 - they can anticipate indifference from the electorate.

They can also anticipate a third party challenge from someone with integrity on this issue and possibly look forward to handwringing, moaning and crying about how the election went to the Republicans because of votes going to so-and-so instead of the democratic candidate.

As long as the Democrat only has to be slightly (0.00 / 0)
more palatable than the Republican - or vice versa - in any given election in the USA, then the incentive to substantively change the system (other than in ways that favor one's chosen MSP) is lacking.

That's two party stagnation and that's where we are - stagnant status quo with the pigs at the trough, and the rest of us at work, or at war.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

Not Yet (0.00 / 0)
Don't give up yet. Everyone is on vacation right now -- things may change once the American public is back paying attention and wondering why the hell Democrats are doing nothing to end the war. The American people are angry about this war and a pro-war advertising blitz and Fox Snooze propaganda won't change that.

We need to fight hard for the next month: lobby intensely, hold vigils, threaten recall, occupy offices. I think our lobbying of Senator Sherrod Brown in the last 3 months has been effective: I'm pretty sure he won't vote for more funding. I'm hoping lobbying by others around the country has been equally effective.

The battle isn't lost yet. Keep fighting.

this makes me ill (0.00 / 0)
Why do they keep funding this tragedy?


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