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May 19, 2005

Now Who's Strong on Defense?
Posted by Michael Signer

From the hard-working Tommy Ross at Byron Dorgan's Democratic Policy Committee, the following installment in our C'mon-You've-Got-To-Be-Kidding-Me Category

As the DPC's analysis of H.R. 1268, the Emergency Supplemental Act on Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005 shows, progressives in Congress are doing more to protect our military than their "conservative" counterparts.

Let's do this in bullet form.

-  Senator Murray (D-WA) introduced an amendment to give an additional $1.98 billion in additional funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs, including over $600 million to help address a health care crisis in the VA system.  The measure was defeated by Republicans.

-  Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) introduced an amendment to research the current need for heavily-armored Humvees, and to provide $213 million to procure more of them.  The amendment passed, despite the opposition of dozens of Republicans.

-  Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) passed an amendment to require the federal government to equalize the gap between civilian and active duty salaries for federal employees mobilized for duty.  The amendment passed the Senate -- then, guess what, Republicans removed the amendment in the final budget report.

-  Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced a successful Senate amendment to extend housing allowances for families of deceased service members, and another amendment to increase President Bush's paltry death gratuity of $12,000 to $100,000. 

OK -- those are the weenies.  Look at them, sniffling and wiping their noses with their sleeves.  Now, check out how the Daddy Party flexes its big muscles:

-  On the four amendments above, no fewer than 25 conservatives voted against each. 

-  And seventeen of them -- EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM FROM A RED STATE -- voted against every single one of the four amendments above.

-  Who were they?  Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senators Wayne Allard(R-CO), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Kit Bond (R-MO), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ted Stevens (R-AK), and George Voinovich (R-OH).

So what's going on here?  Most likely, a combination of blind partisanship -- anything to deny a Dem a win -- and chicken-hawkism -- only war sells, not taking care of the people who actually have to fight. 

The fact that these Senators are from red states shows they're taking their voters for granted -- coasting on cultural posturing and division.

A lantern like this should reveal a path out of the wilderness.  We've seen conservatives before retreating into nationalism and defeatism -- just think about the Republican Party in the 1930's and 1940's -- and turning away from the real Americans who defend our country.  We've also seen Democrats formulate strong, engaged policies that united our fighters and our foreign policy -- just think John F. Kennedy in the early 1960's.

They can only fool America for so long.  It's time the joke was over.


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Anyone who knows anything about Washington knows the old game of adding and deleting amendments to try to make the opposition look silly and register negative votes.

Both parties play the game.

The increased death benefit was subject to bipartisan agreement more than a month ago, etc.

I'll bet dozens of amendments came in and out before the bill was wrapped.

Is this the best progressives can do for substance?

Apparently it is.

There's damn little substance on the left these days.

They can only fool America for so long.

But you can fool brain damaged Republican voters forever. 60,000,000 of the slugs voted for Dubya, remember?

>>60,000,000 of the slugs voted for Dubya, remember?

not only that, they did it twice. The reality is that Americans are suckers for bad ideas with good MARKETING.

"They can only fool America for so long."

I'm afraid that unless America pays a lot more attention than we usually do, they can fool an awful lot of us for an awful long time.

Senator Patty Murray is from Washington. Ron Wyden (D) and Gordon Smith (R) represent Oregon in the U.S. Senate.

Sorry! The Murray typo is fixed now. My apologies.

Tom E. has it exactly right on the use of amendments.
Re "Bush's paltry death gratuity"--since he doubled it and made it tax free what does that say about "Clinton's death gratuity?"
Re equalize the gap between civilian and active duty salaries for federal employees mobilized for duty, I note that he Durbin didn't want to do it for all citizen soldiers but only the highly unionized federal civilian workforce.
Possibly Red states are more inclined to elect conservatives (including fiscally conservative senators--after they take of their own pork, naturally) who see a budget deficit of $500B+ (when you include the ridiculously off budget supplementals) and want to start doing something about it this year.

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