The Democrats believe that they were handed Congress in 2006 to end the war in Iraq. In nearly a year in office, they have tried and failed to end the war 40 times. These repeated failures have surely contributed to Congress’ approval rating falling below that of President Bush, but it’s not the only reason by a long shot. Congress remains corrupt, pork-laden and kindergarten in its approach to disputes to the point that most Americans have rightly concluded that it’s just plain useless. And besides that, if Congress was given to the Democrats just to end the war, why are the President’s numbers higher than theirs? That ought to make them go hmm.
Yesterday they tried to lose the war one more time, passing a defense spending bill that calls for immediate withdrawal confident that President Bush will veto it and that the Department of Defense can make up for the lost funding by fiddling with a few budget numbers.
The former is true; President Bush will veto the bill if it gets through Senate and his veto will be sustained, and we’ll be left without a Defense spending bill until Congress comes up with one that he’ll sign. But the latter may not be true.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that unless Congress passes funding for the Iraq war within days, he will direct the Army and Marine Corps to begin developing plans to lay off employees and terminate contracts early next year…
“There is a misperception that this department can continue funding our troops in the field for an indefinite period of time through accounting maneuvers, that we can shuffle money around the department. This is a serious misconception,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon.
As a result, he said that he is faced with the undesirable task of preparing to cease operations at Army bases by mid-February, and lay off about 100,000 defense department employees and an equal number of civilian contractors. A month later, he said, similar moves would have to be made by the Marines.
Some members of Congress believe the Pentagon can switch enough money to cover the war accounts, Gates said. But he added that he only has the flexibility to transfer about $3.7 billion — which is just one week’s worth of war expenses. Lawmakers, he said, may not understand how complicated and restrictive the situation is.
Not having the funds in place would not force a withdrawal from Iraq, yet, but it would greatly degrade the military’s readiness on the home front.
“Today’s Army is out of balance,” Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Overall, we are consuming our readiness as fast as we can build it.”
Testifying alongside Casey, Army Secretary Pete Geren urged lawmakers to approve the war funds.
“A large organization such as ours cannot turn on a dime. … It would have a dramatic effect,” Geren said. The burden would “fall heavily on home-based troops and their families,” he later added.
The Clinton budget cuts during the peacetime 90s forced units to cannibalize equipment and reduce training, which contributed to deteriorating morale and readiness across the board. What would these cuts do in the middle of a two-front war? They would hollow the military out, starting with the rear echelon but before long destroying the forces in theater that the rear echelons are supposed to support and replace in rotation.
These games of budget chicken that the Democrats keep playing with the administration are dumb and dangerous, and especially harmful given all the indicators coming out of Iraq recently that the war is really turning around. But it’s telling that Congress apparently doesn’t even understand how the DoD’s budget even works. Just what exactly is this Congress good for if it doesn’t even understand its most basic Constitutional role?
If it comes down to it, and I hope it doesn’t, to the extent that he can Gates ought to make sure that the cuts and layoffs hit Democrat districts disproportionately. If they’re going to fritter with the war like children, they need to get spanked for it.