Hardball: Gates tells military to prepare for massive layoffs if Dems don’t pass war spending bill; Update: Iraqi refugees returning home in “dramatic” numbers?

posted at 5:01 pm on November 20, 2007 by Allahpundit

He said he’d do it, and now he has.

The military plans to furlough civilian employees and cut all Army and Marine Corps bases to bare-bones operations early next year because of a funding impasse with Congress, according to a memo provided to Politico.

Democratic leaders accused the Bush administration of using scare tactics, and said they will not be strong-armed into giving the White House a blank check on the war…

The plan would leave “bases … all but shut down, only able to provide the most basic safety and security measures for those who reside there,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said at a briefing Tuesday afternoon.

“The most immediate impact will be felt next month, just before Christmas, in fact, when we’ll begin notifying roughly 200,000 civilians and contractors that we can no longer afford their services; and that, absent additional funding, they will be furloughed, or temporarily laid off, within a matter of weeks,” Morrell said.

“It is imperative that lawmakers reconsider this matter as soon as possible and send the president supplemental funding legislation, free from objectionable policy provisions, in order to insure that we can continue to support our troops and their families, as well as protect our nation’s security.”

The objectionable provision to which he’s referring is Reid’s demand for a plan for withdrawal in return for new money for the war. Two votes failed in the Senate last week and so the impasse remains unbridged; in the interim, the White House has been authorized by Congress to keep funding the war if it likes — by pulling money out of the Defense Department’s operational budget, thus generating the shortfalls Gates is trying to address with these cuts. It’s a clever, if typically gutless, strategy by the Dems in that it forces the decision of whether to continue the war onto Bush, with general military readiness the price. The problem for the left is that it looks especially awful to cut funding while progress is finally being made; the problem for the right is that support for the war hasn’t increased appreciably (yet), due partly to the fact that people are paying less attention these days. I wonder if Bush is considering some sort of non-binding timetable in light of the political cover the recent security gains have given him. He can’t retreat under fire, but he’s already committed to withdrawing the surge brigades — security permitting — on grounds that sufficient progress in Anbar has been made to obviate the need for them (never mind the fact that he would have had to withdraw them anyway). A non-binding timetable would simply be an extension of that logic: instead of declaring victory and going home, he’d declare partial victory and announce we’re partially going home — again, security permitting. That’d probably be enough for Reid and Pelosi, neither of whom wants to commit so entirely to defeat at this point that they can’t take partial credit if things continue to improve over the next year. Exit question: Will Bush go for the non-binding timetable? If not, how can he expect the Dems to cave on funding again and lose whatever tiny shred of credibility they still have?

Update: Like I say, the public’s not paying much attention right now but if stories like this keep coming the new reality’s eventually going to penetrate. Not all of the refugees are coming home voluntarily thanks to Syria’s visa regulations, and no one’s giving any official numbers, but note the quotes from the UN rep. It sounds like we’re talking about more than a few thousand people here.

Iraqi refugees are returning home in dramatic numbers, concluding that security in Baghdad has been transformed. Thousands have left their refuge in Syria in recent months, according to some estimates.

The Iraqi Embassy is organising a secure mass convoy from Damascus to Baghdad on Monday for refugees who want to drive back. Embassy notices went up around the Syrian capital yesterday, offering free bus and train rides home…

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was scrambling to assess thetransformation last night. An interim report is expected today. “There is alarge movement of people going back to Iraq. We are doing rapid research on this,” a spokesman said…

“In the last month, 60 per cent of the Iraqis I know have returned,” [Hussein Ali Saleh, the director of the National Theatre in Baghdad,] said.“The situation has been changed completely. They all want to go back. Even my own family back in Baghdad is telling me the situation is much better.”…

Most Iraqis interviewed by The Times, though, seemed enthusiastic rather than despondent. “Throughout history Baghdad has fallen many times but she always rose up again,” Abu Ibrahim said. “We all know this and that’s why we return. We return to rebuild Baghdad now.”

Your new exit question: Where are they going to put them all?


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what about going after the earmarks in Murtha’s district?

ctmom on November 20, 2007 at 5:04 PM

Didn’t Newt shut down the gov’t? Didn’t work.

JiangxiDad on November 20, 2007 at 5:05 PM

I think its about time for Zel Miller to challenge someone to a duel.

Zetterson on November 20, 2007 at 5:08 PM

First bases to shut down? California’s, beginning in the bay area. Then to Mass., so Kennedy can hand the final checks as they walk off base.

right2bright on November 20, 2007 at 5:08 PM

Hopefully the very first civilians fired are the ones supported by earmarks.

How much you want to be raging, stormin, Jack Murtha there would stomp and scream and yell to get the Pentagon funded right quick?

apollyonbob on November 20, 2007 at 5:09 PM

They need to stop pushing the bill as “war funding” and start calling it “operational military funding”. Perhaps the most ignorant among us would understand the situation if this distinction was clear.

PBoilermaker on November 20, 2007 at 5:09 PM

This is where the Commander In Chief could spend some air time explaining the war “over there” and “over here”.

Hening on November 20, 2007 at 5:10 PM

“The most immediate impact will be felt next month, just before Christmas, in fact, when we’ll begin notifying roughly 200,000 civilians and contractors that we can no longer afford their services; and that, absent additional funding, they will be furloughed, or temporarily laid off, within a matter of weeks,” Morrell said.

Merry Christmas

bnelson44 on November 20, 2007 at 5:14 PM

Ultimate cheap shot move by the Democrats, bet the anti-war people are thrilled. Why don’t they take all that earmarked garbage out and use that to fund the war for the timebeing.

Defector01 on November 20, 2007 at 5:16 PM

people are paying less attention these days

Paying less attention, or seeing less on the MSM, since there’s actually some good news not worth reporting?

Frozen Tex on November 20, 2007 at 5:16 PM

Update: Iraqi refugees returning home in “dramatic” numbers?

Case in point.

Frozen Tex on November 20, 2007 at 5:18 PM

Didn’t Newt shut down the gov’t? Didn’t work.

JiangxiDad on November 20, 2007 at 5:05 PM

One reason it didn’t work is that Newt was a petulant twit and lost credibility when he fumed about going out the back of the plane. Another reason is that Bob Dole preemptively surrendered on the shutdown.

I remember because I used to describe myself as the only federal employee who was in favor of the shutdown.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on November 20, 2007 at 5:19 PM

Hey it is 1978 all over again! What a wonderful year that was.

Limerick on November 20, 2007 at 5:19 PM

Reid = Wile E. Coyote

Currently he’s giving you that look of desperation as his rocket skates have him careening off a cliff.

Matticus Finch on November 20, 2007 at 5:21 PM

I would say that an enemy would be looking at the best time in history since Pearl Harbor to attack America.

crosspatch on November 20, 2007 at 5:22 PM

Another fine example of our government’s disgusting and shameful behavior – let’s screw those who are already paying the only and heavy price for this war so we can gain more political power. I say this again – I serve, I have fought, and I love my country – but more and more, I am beginning to hate my government.

King of the Britons on November 20, 2007 at 5:24 PM

New exit answer:

Most Iraqis interviewed by The Times, though, seemed enthusiastic rather than despondent. “Throughout history Baghdad has fallen many times but she always rose up again,” Abu Ibrahim said. “We all know this and that’s why we return. We return to rebuild Baghdad now.”

Sort of self-explanitory.

Frozen Tex on November 20, 2007 at 5:24 PM

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on November 20, 2007 at 5:19 PM

Dems are petulant twits too. Means they should cave quickly if the press is bad.

JiangxiDad on November 20, 2007 at 5:24 PM

“Iraqi refugees are returning home in dramatic numbers”

Or course, the Democrats moronic response to that is that we have won, don’t need the troops there anymore and they can all come home starting next Tuesday.

crosspatch on November 20, 2007 at 5:25 PM

My God, al Qaeda the Democrats just won’t give up.

Buzzy on November 20, 2007 at 5:26 PM

So blindly invested in our defeat, the Dems must now resort to cutting off funds for them to achieve their desired result in Iraq; America’s loss. Imagine if everything works out well in Iraq where it becomes a stable democracy, the Dems will be shown as the traitors they are; always accepting the word of the enemy over that of our own soldiers, always announcing defeat instead of finding a way to win, always tying the hands of our military and intelligence agencies behind their backs with their insistance on fighting the war on Islamic extremism in a PC mmanner.

davenp35 on November 20, 2007 at 5:27 PM

45 bases in California, 8 in Kennedy’s backyard, 6 in Reid’s state of Nevada.
That should wake a few of those libs up.

Hey San Fran., how about you being the first ones? You don’t need them. There are probably about 15 in the SF and Oakland area.

right2bright on November 20, 2007 at 5:27 PM

right2bright on November 20, 2007 at 5:27 PM

And the headlines on NBC, ABC, CBS*kaf, and CNN….Republicans layoff hundreds of thousands!

Limerick on November 20, 2007 at 5:30 PM

The stupid koskiddies are saying:

Disgusting: Bush threatens to layoff 150,000 military base personnel if he doesn’t get his war money

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/11/20/14436/003
As usual, they are blaming this on Bush.
Some nuggets:

However, to tell 150,000 military families that they’re going to be laid off DURING CHRISTMAS when there’s ample money to keep all critical military operations afloat is maybe the most crass thing I’ve ever seen this Administration do

There it is, an admission that they are needlessly using 150,000 civilian Army personnel’s livelihoods as a political football. This goes beyond 24% territory. I don’t know how ANYONE could have the slightest respect for such ghouls.

Dems should not negotiate with hostage takers (8+ / 0-)
Impeachment needs to be put on the table now by Congress. Democratic candidates for President should speak about prosecution for war crimes by their incoming Justice Department.

No deals. Get our guys and gals out of Iraq.

I’ve said it before–I’ll say it again. We need to find a way to take back our media, so they start accurately reporting news, instead of spinning statist propaganda.

This must happen if we’re to have any hope at all of reining this bunch in. And we are running out of time.

“Take back our media”????
They are truly nuts over there.

ArmyAunt on November 20, 2007 at 5:35 PM

with friends like democrats, who needs enemies?

lorien1973 on November 20, 2007 at 5:35 PM

Congress passed a bill that says any employer has to give 90 day notices. I say send them out now and let the public stew about them.

William Amos on November 20, 2007 at 5:39 PM

We can’t win this argument. There isn’t a single leader willing to step up to the microphone and slap the bad guy across the cheek.

Noon, Washington Monument, be there!

Nope…they will sit on their hands, and bite their tongues, and moan just enough to be heard. No dynamite. No blitz. No offense whatsoever. The librarians run the party.

Limerick on November 20, 2007 at 5:46 PM

Has anyone considered that the dems are far-thinking?
I.e. the problems caused by this will be a talking point early next year about how “Bush’s War” has so degraded military rediness that it must be shut down.

Unfortunatly 50% of the people will swallow whatever the dems say and 40% won’t care to look beyond ABC or NBC for their news.

VolMagic on November 20, 2007 at 5:47 PM

Oh isn’t this just superb,Reid is now actively ingaging
in BLACKMAILING the American Military,and this Liberal
strategy is a gift to the Republican party that just keeps on giving,so let me get this straight.

So who is going to emplode first,Reid and Polosi,if they don’t get withdrawl of the Troops,or the Lefty Moonbat’s
that support the Liberal Democratic Party,for surrender.
I can’t believe Liberal’s are doing this before the upcoming election,again,please,don’t anybody stand in their
way,but don’t get me wrong,I still think the Liberal’s could use a little more rope.

canopfor on November 20, 2007 at 5:50 PM

with friends like democrats,who needs enemies?

Lorien1973 on November 20,2007 at 5:35PM.

Lorien1973:Keep your democrats close,and your Moonbat’s closer.hehe.

canopfor on November 20, 2007 at 5:58 PM

Too bad they can’t lay off the entire State Dept!

JellyToast on November 20, 2007 at 5:59 PM

You all do remember awhile back when Murtha and others were caught talking about how to bleed the military to get them home? Wellllll, somebody high up other than us little people didn’t listen or pay attention. This should have never been allowed to occur. I’m on the cut the earmarks bandwagon, too

MNDavenotPC on November 20, 2007 at 6:03 PM

With all the positive feedback they will receive from the people they care about (anti-military types) I can see Polosi and Murtha, et al, refusing to send a bill to Bush to fund the war all the way up to the 2008 election. The far left would enjoy nothing more than watching the administration twist in the wind as they necessarily decimate the military to fund the troops. These anti-American traitors have no conscience.

AZCON on November 20, 2007 at 6:06 PM

Too bad they can’t lay off the entire State Dept!

JellyToast on November 20, 2007 at 5:59 PM

Who says they can’t?

AZCON on November 20, 2007 at 6:07 PM

Yep time to kill the pork boys. No more bacon Murtha. We should have killed earmarks years ago but it’s not too late.

Buzzy on November 20, 2007 at 6:17 PM

When Newt’s Congress sent Clinton a budget he wouldn’t sign, the press screamed “The Republicans shut down the government!”

Now that Pelosi/Reid have sent Bush a defense supplemental he won’t sign, the press is beging to scream “Bush is shutting down the government!”

Another double standard by our leftist press.

Anil Petra on November 20, 2007 at 6:19 PM

This idea is either brilliant or not,Why doesn’t
President Bush just get air time and go directly
to the American people and explain how the Democrats
are trying to spin this for political gain,because
if not,were going to have Newt stole Christmas part deux.

canopfor on November 20, 2007 at 6:19 PM

with friends like democrats, who needs enemies?

lorien1973 on November 20, 2007 at 5:35 PM

more like….
with friends like democrats, who needs enemas?

mrfixit on November 20, 2007 at 6:21 PM

Ground that airplane San-Fran-Nan uses.

Bicyea on November 20, 2007 at 6:23 PM

Didn’t Newt shut down the gov’t? Didn’t work.

JiangxiDad on November 20, 2007 at 5:05 PM

When Newt did it the news was primarily the MSM and the people didn’t know the information needed to make a proper judgement.

Today it’s different. The people of this country know what is happening and why. The Dems believe they can make this backfire on Bush, but it won’t. The Dems will be blamed for this act of Treason, and properly so.

Helloyawl on November 20, 2007 at 6:29 PM

right2bright on November 20, 2007 at 5:27 PM

there are no bases in sf or oakland anymore we have The air base in Fairfeild and thats pretty much it and since the bases closed the moonbats have taken a stronger hold . But on a side note not once when any navy ship has been at port here has the libs even dared to have one of their anti American marches . I guess they understand a red white and blue ass kicking is to much to pay for their first amendment rights .
they are cowards and they know it pure and simple

Mojack420 on November 20, 2007 at 6:34 PM

Call their bluff, make them eat it through their sphinchters!

SouthernGent on November 20, 2007 at 6:50 PM

Reid & Pelosi will have to give in on this. The moonbats will scream, but they will get over it. I really do not know how Democrats can still be in “retreat and defeat” mode at this time.

chief on November 20, 2007 at 7:11 PM

Mojack420 on November 20, 2007 at 6:34 PM

Better tell the military that their data as of 8/29/07 is not correct.
Here is a link that will help, I think there is more military than you think. Some may have a small contingent of a few hundred (and some a few thousand, Travis ain’t small), but it all adds up.
http://www.globemaster.de/regbases.html
Click on the military database link.

You have, to name a few;
San Jose
Mountain View
Alameda
Hayward
Sunnymead
San Fran
Travis AFB
and if you want to include Sac. area. Yuba City, Stockton
And more.

By they way, it always cracks me up to see a Naval installation at China Lake. Only the military would have a Navy installation in Ridgecrest, home of Borax and in the middle of a nothing desert.

right2bright on November 20, 2007 at 7:19 PM

Your new exit question: Where are they going to put them all?

You aid them in building new homes with all the modern conveniences! Give them the necessary security they need for at least one year. That will give them the needed time to reflect on the brutality al-Qaida and the so-called “insurgents” was and is still offering and compare it to good life America had supplied them.
Then you sit back sit back and let human nature takes its’ course.
Talk about winning hearts and minds.

RMR on November 20, 2007 at 7:27 PM

Exit question: Will Bush go for the non-binding timetable? If not, how can he expect the Dems to cave on funding again and lose whatever tiny shred of credibility they still have?

The president always has the upper hand in budget battles. I think Bush should stick to his guns and force the dems to blink. AGAIN.

csdeven on November 20, 2007 at 7:45 PM

bad news for guys like EL Sniper. Going to put them out of work for awhile and since they are contractors they won’t get back pay or anything like that.
But they aren’t going to start closing bases, of that I’m reasonably sure. It wouldn’t affect the budget in time.

Bradky on November 20, 2007 at 7:53 PM

“Another reason is that Bob Dole preemptively surrendered on the shutdown.”

Whew – glad we don’t have any RINO loose cannons like that around now, that might try to cut a back-door deal for their own advantage! Oh, shit – wait….

drunyan8315 on November 20, 2007 at 8:02 PM

Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said: “Reports like these make it look like the Administration is playing politics with our troops.”

No, Jim. Reports like these make it look like the administration has a war to conduct, and you’ve gutted their budget, so they are laying off all non-essential personnel.

Jaibones on November 20, 2007 at 8:14 PM

By they way, it always cracks me up to see a Naval installation at China Lake. Only the military would have a Navy installation in Ridgecrest, home of Borax and in the middle of a nothing desert.

right2bright on November 20, 2007 at 7:19 PM

That’s a Naval Weapons Center at China Lake. They test things that go boom out there. I know what you mean though…as a kid I lived in Olathe, Kansas where my Navy dad was stationed. Didn’t see one damn carrier there. :|

PatrickS on November 20, 2007 at 8:26 PM

the White House has been authorized by Congress to keep funding the war if it likes — by pulling money out of the Defense Department’s operational budget, thus generating the shortfalls Gates is trying to address with these cuts. It’s a clever, if typically gutless, strategy by the Dems in that it forces the decision of whether to continue the war onto Bush, with general military readiness the price.

It is a bit “clever” on the part of the dims if you will, who may not be so dim after all, as it puts the ball in Bush’s court. Does Bush cut back on Iraq, which most Americans want him to do, or does he cut back on military readiness, which most Americans do not want him to do.
He may want to consider whether half a loaf is better than none.

MB4 on November 20, 2007 at 8:46 PM

There is no way the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are going to not be funded, the president will not permit this to happen, and rightly so. If domestic costs have to be frozen so resources will go toward the war effort so be it. It is what I expect the administration to do.

I disagree with whoever postulated above that the Democrats are strategic in their thinking. Their approach to the budget issue is, among everything else, linear in nature, rather than holistic strategy. It is tactical because Democrats do not think about the consequences of their actions over the military budget will have on the military itself, the Democrats’ only purpose is to damage president Bush. This approach is entirely tactical.

I hope the president continues to shove this issue back in Congress’s face. I hope he stands firm on his commitment to not let the enemy know that all they have to do is wait out a proposed timetable, binding or not, and they win. In fact, the very issue of discussing a timetable is a victory for the enemy. (As soon as there was talk for the Israel to withdraw out of Lebanon, Israel lost the war.)

Weebork on November 20, 2007 at 9:05 PM

Gutless bastages.

Every time I turn around the Dems are either trying to foist shamnesty on us or undermine us overseas: Pelosi visiting Syria, the House’s ill-timed rebuke of Turkey, and the trickle of funds to the troops.

“Elections have consequences” indeed!

I wonder who their Foley surprise will be this coming November?

Dave Shay on November 20, 2007 at 9:53 PM

I just hope somebody in this Administration is actually smart enough to assign a photographer to film/photograph the “Triumpant Return” convoy of Iraqi ex-pats — and then savvy enough to get them a major public airing.

JM Hanes on November 20, 2007 at 10:05 PM

Two things:

First, if I were president, I’d make sure ever blue district defense contract or operation was cancelled or shut down, with pre-Christmas employee notices saying that this action had to be taken because Democrats would not pass a military bill. Then let the squealing begin.

Second, when Kennedy was hectoring Gates to name an enemy which could possibly defeat the U.S. military, I wonder how many of you were hoping, as I was, that he’d say “Only the Democratic party.”

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on November 20, 2007 at 10:23 PM

This idea is either brilliant or not,Why doesn’t
President Bush just get air time and go directly
to the American people and explain how the Democrats
are trying to spin this for political gain,

Because Bush is just not that smart. He is not a Reagan who could convince the American people what was the right thing to do. Nope, he will just let the Dhims do whatever they want, veto away and not let the American public know why – even with elections coming up. Who the hell is is public relations manager?

Neocon Peg on November 20, 2007 at 10:42 PM

Weebork on November 20, 2007 at 9:05 PM

Exactly, I couldn’t agree more.

Neocon Peg on November 20, 2007 at 10:49 PM

Second, when Kennedy was hectoring Gates to name an enemy which could possibly defeat the U.S. military, I wonder how many of you were hoping, as I was, that he’d say “Only the Democratic party.”

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on November 20, 2007 at 10:23 PM

Exactly what I was thinking when I watched that Gates-Kennedy exchange. Or if Gates had simply responded by saying “You sir” that would’ve been outstanding.

Too bad the administration is so concerned over being conciliatory and “setting a new tone” when the other side clearly isn’t interested in playing by the same rules.

Dave Shay on November 20, 2007 at 10:53 PM

The President has the bully pulpit. He should use it.

He should make multiple addresses to the nation about the Democrats deliberately sabotaging the war effort. He should publicly call out Pelosi, Reid, Murtha, and Durbin as disloyal. He should explain how the plan to “bleed the troops” was put together by Murtha, and announce the first cuts in Nevada, California, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, to take place immediately.

georgej on November 21, 2007 at 7:08 AM