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May 11, 2006

Senate Porkers Want To Take Ammunition and Armor From Troops


Need proof of how pork-addicted Congress has become? Consider this: Some in the Senate are looking for ways to shift funds from the troops in Iraq to some of their favorite pet projects.


Unable to control their colleagues, 35 senators signed a letter promising to support a veto, and the House of Representatives' leadership announced it would refuse to accept any supplemental exceeding the $94.4 billion target. Despite these positive signs in favor of spending restraint, some in the Senate want to concoct a face-saving deal with the president to sustain these wasteful proposals. Their plan: Shortchange the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to preserve most of the pork.

This is exactly what Bush needed politically.

Bush has been unwilling to stand up to GOP porkers generally, but he's especially resistant to veto a bill funding the troops. The only strength of the GOP right now is its commitment to fighting the war. If Bush vetoes a spending bill which primarily funds the troops, it will be used against him-- and the GOP generally -- as "evidence" that he doesn't want to fund our troops sufficiently.

Remember Kerry's "I actually voted in favor of it, before I voted against it"? That was actually a vote by Kerry against funding the war, not against funding pork; but the Democrats (and the liberal media spirit squad) will pretend not to notice the difference and will claim that Bush is doing exactly what Kerry did, i.e., block funding of the troops.

So Bush, being a bit of gutless punk on domestic spending anyway, and being hyperpolitical to the point of abject stupidity on foreign policy, will probably just sign whatever spending bill is offered to him, because the Bush/Rove Genius Committee cannot, they think, risk being perceived as willing to sign anything that has a dollar or two of spending for the troops.

Actually, of course, it's the porker Senators who are cynically jeopardizing a bill that's supposed to be about the troops (and Katrina relief, and bird flu preparation) by larding it up with unrelated porkbarrel spending. They are cynically attaching their low-priority, non-national-security, non-emergency local pet projects to high priority, national security, emergency spending, believing that the latter will shield the former from being blocked.

But this suggestion by some senators -- and I do wonder if the "wily" Trent Lott is among them -- that they will actually cut war spending to save local boondoggles provides Bush all the political cover he needs for a veto.

But he has to be aggressive and merciless on this -- and very public. He needs to explain in a national prime-time address that he is required to veto the porked up bill because some senators -- he doesn't have to name them -- have decided to risk national security for personal political interest. He has to be absolutely ruthless in pinning the blame on the veto on "wily" senators like Lott.

If he does that, it will be clear to the public who is to blame for the (temporary) blockage of appropriations for the troops.

The risk, of course, is that he will strongly alienate a lot of senators who are already wavering in their support of him and the Iraq War (reading the polls, of course; no profiles in courage here). But it's worth it-- and further, he can get some of those senators to fall back in line by putting into question their own commitment to winning the war. The power of incumbency will be diminished, and they will be at risk of losing the only war that seems to matter to them -- the war to keep their comfortable government offices in perpetuity.

Those risks aside, it's a likely win-win-win-win situation. He'll get the military spending he wants, hold the line on pork (and thereby please his increasingly distraught conservative base), assert control over the parochial and cynical senators, and get back some of the public perception of having strong "leadership" abilities, which, in case he hasn't been reading the polls (and I rather doubt that), has all but evaporated.

That's what Bush needs to do.

Of course, he'll do nothing of the sort. He'll meekly roll over and sign the porked-up bill, even if it cuts a lot of actual war spending, and call it a victory.

As he always does.

Via Instapundit, who also links an interview with a real wartime leader, Tom Coburn.

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posted by Ace at 10:31 AM

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