Thursday :: Jul 12, 2007

Democrats Should Send The Signal Now

by Steve

Peter Baker writes a Page One in Friday’s Post that tells us what we already know: despite frustration at the Democratic leadership’s inability to force a change in course over Iraq, the Democrats don’t have the votes to force a change in course. As long as Bush has 40 votes to maintain GOP filibusters and keep legislation from being debated (and to think the Beltway mafia lectured the Democrats against the “nuclear option”), and as long as he has enough votes to protect his vetoes, Democrats cannot change his policies. This takes us to the defense budget.

The “let’s be bipartisan and responsible” crowd has been angling for common ground and a quick nonconfrontational passage of the budget bill by the summer recess at the end of this month because they don’t want to go home and get their brains blown out by their constituents. Republicans are practically begging the Democrats to give them a way out before the summer recess, as evidenced by Tom Davis’s comment today.

Yet Democrats appear uninterested in reaching out to Republicans, preferring to keep party differences on the war clear heading into the 2008 elections and fearing that any proposal moderate enough to attract GOP support could anger the antiwar wing of their party. "I'm not supportive of where the president is, but they haven't engaged any of us here," said an angry Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). "They're just trying to score political points."

Note how Baker characterizes Democrats as being held hostage to their base while ignoring that the GOP is also avoiding any talk of a withdrawal because of their base.

Since the power of the purse is one of two clear levers the legislative branch has over the executive branch (the other being impeachment), why shouldn’t Democrats signal to the White House now that there will be a mission change and redeployment timeline in the defense budget bill no matter what the GOP or the White House wants? Democrats might as well cut to the chase and tell the GOP that it will be they who stop funding the troops by holding up the budget from being voted on, or it will be the White House that will be depriving the troops of funding by vetoing the budget and returning it to a Congress where the GOP can bury it. After months of watching the GOP take advantage of every lever a minority party can use to stop the will of the people from being implemented on this war, Democrats should spend the summer recess “setting the negatives” against the White House and GOP now on future vetoes or filibusters of the defense budget.

Bush likes to brag that he means what he says and then does it, so his opponents have no reason to be surprised. He’s right. It’s time Democrats showed the country that they have finally gotten the message from last November: Tell the White House, the GOP, and the public now that there will be no 2008 defense budget without a mission change and redeployment timeline.

Steve :: 9:39 PM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!