Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cap Funding For the War

House Democrats have decided to fund Bush's request for war spending this year but require that any troops sent into battle that don't meet certain standards receive a presidential waiver and that Congress be notified of the shortcoming. This is intended to make President Bush more accountable for the conditions of our forces in Iraq, but ultimately is a much weaker version of Rep. Murtha's plan which would have actually required all troops be properly trained and equipped before being sent off to fight in Iraq - a plan that a solid majority of Americans support according to the latest WP/ABC poll. Of course, Bush hasn't done anything that anyone has asked him to do in regards to this war, and it's highly unlikely he will in the future.

Obviously, however, many Democrats in the caucus are fearful of manipulating funds for the war because they think it will enable Republicans to criticize them as being unsupportive of the troops. The truth is, Republicans can and are doing this anyway, and the only real leverage the Congress has over the President in the execution of a war is the appropriations process. Furthermore, if Democrats vote for the supplemental without any stipulations, they will become owners of the war themselves and can no longer claim otherwise. Polls do show that a majority doesn't yet support such actions, but Democrats simply must find the courage to argue the truth - that defunding the war doesn't mean that tomorrow's troops don't have the supplies they need - and move public opinion to their side. A majority wants a timetable for withdrawal, and they need to know the only way to do that is to deny Bush the money, and thus the ability, to forge ahead with his indefinite escalation of the war. Other proposed measures simply will not work because President Bush has veto power and it is clear that no amount of political pressure will force him to change his war policy, as is obvious with the "surge" plan.

In a recent article of The American Prospect (linked above), Oregon Congressman David Wu and Yale professor Bruce Ackerman show how this can be done responsibly. They propose capping all future spending on the war in Iraq at a fixed limit of $150 billion dollars (dubbed "The Half-Trillion Dollar Solution" because $350 billion dollars has already been spent on the Iraq war to date). President Bush would have no choice but to sign this ceiling to get short-term funding for the war, and would be forced to complete the removal of troops by the time he leaves office in January 2009. This would in no way endanger the troops because the drawdown would be both foreseen and necessitated, and would also force the Bush administration to change its strategy in Iraq away from trying to achieve political reconciliation through a purely military solution (which, in turn, puts pressure on the Iraqis to move towards this).

Again, this is essentially the only true method that Congress can bring an end to the war. It's time they started the real debate on it. It's time they showed the leadership we're all waiting for.

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

I think this is an excellent approach to de-funding the war. I suppore it whole-heartedly.