Sunday, May 06, 2007

A plan for congressional Democrats on Iraq funding

President Bush wants a "clean bill" for funding ongoing operations in Iraq, but so many Democrats simply do not want to pass such a bill even though many of them know they need to. What should the Democrats do?

Easy. This is a basic math problem. They need to do the political calculus and figure out how to give President Bush all the rope he wants while also giving him a minimum of approval for what he wants to do with that rope.

One possibility would be to give him a virtual blank check to spend another $50 billion or so through October, with absolutely no restrictions or even any mention of Iraq, knowing full well that he will spend it on Iraq. In fact, the bill could "recommend" that the money be spend on social programs, energy subsidies for lower-income families, alternative energy research, etc., and even "strongly recommend" that the money not be spent funding operations in Iraq, but not placing any actual restrictions on President Bush. A bill in such a form will have these qualities:

  1. Democrats will have given President Bush exactly what he wanted: funding with no strings attached
  2. Diehard antiwar activists will be able to point to language strongly opposing the war
  3. Centrists will be able to say they did "the responsible thing"
  4. The military will have until October to prove that the surge really is gaining traction
  5. Democrats will have offered a very clear statement of their priorities
  6. There is a deadline, of sorts, implied by the bill
  7. A veto-proof majority of Congress can, albeit grudgingly, vote for this bill
  8. President Bush can't reasonably expect to get a better compromise than this
  9. The Democrats, even the diehard antiwar activists, can't reasonably expect to get a better compromise out of the centrists who really do need to show some degree of support for "the troops" if the Democrats want to win the presidency in 2008
  10. Nobody really "wins"; everybody "loses" equally

All sides of the debate can and should spend the next month trumpeting their objections to the compromises that their opponents want them to make, but as June is about to turn into July, this is a bill that all sides can come to agree is the only compromise that can leave their opponents equally unhappy as themselves.

-- Jack Krupansky


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