Progressive Democrats issued a challenge this morning to their colleagues in the House on the eve of a scheduled vote on the war supplemental: the only fiscally responsible stance is to end the emergency funding.
It is disingenuous to say this is an “emergency” supplemental. The only “emergency” is this: In funding the longest war in history, we are putting America further into debt with China, expanding the deficit, increasing wasteful government spending, undermining our budgetary process, risking Social Security and solidifying debt that military leaders call our number one national security threat.
The Iraq Study Group argued in 2006 that the government should stop funding the wars with emergency supplemental appropriation bills that avoid budgetary restrictions. Last year, President Obama pledged to stop these off-budget gimmicks to hide the cost of war. Last week, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, cited debt as the number one threat to America’s national security. This week, Republican leader John Boehner stated that “We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we’re broke,” proposing to cut Social Security to pay for the war.
Our challenge: if you oppose deficit spending, debt dependency on China, cuts to Social Security, and are concerned about a debt-threat to our national security, then oppose this bill.
Reps. Mike Honda, Alan Grayson, John Conyers and Raul Grijalva held a press conference on this issue this morning.
The question will be if whatever passes the House tonight will have to get ratified again by the Senate. Nita Lowey cancelled $3.9 billion in foreign aid to Afghanistan out of fears of corruption. David Obey appropriated $10 billion in the bill to save 140,000 education jobs. With the social spending money in the bill, it won’t get any Republicans, and enough anti-war Democrats will vote against the bill to stop passage. The likely scenario, in my mind, would be that the education jobs funding gets cut. But would the foreign aid money also get killed? If that’s the case, the Senate would have to vote again, and we go beyond the artificial July 4 deadline set out by the Pentagon.
If the unemployed can’t get what they want in a timely manner, the Pentagon shouldn’t either. We’ll see what happens later today.
UPDATE: Here are the 21 members of the Out of Afghanistan caucus, from which this challenge emanated.
UPDATE II: A great summary of the hypocrisy at work with deficit scolds voting for unlimited spending in war, from Raul Grijalva.