Who Wrote This?
In the past, the Congress has moved expeditiously to approve funding for our Armed Forces. I urge the Congress to do so once more. I also urge the Congress to focus on the needs of our troops and our national security, and not to use the supplemental to pursue unnecessary spending. I want the Congress to send me a focused bill, and to do so quickly. When this request returns to me as legislation ready to be signed, it should remain focused on our security.
If you guessed former anti-war activist Barack Obama, ding ding ding you get a cookie!
Elsewhere in this letter, Obama addresses why this supplemental request is needed at all, considering his intention to put the wars on budget.
As I noted when first I introduced my budget in February, this is the last planned war supplemental. Since September 2001, the Congress has passed 17 separate emergency funding bills totaling $822.1 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 7 years of war, the American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations.
We must break that recent tradition and include future military costs in the regular budget so that we have an honest, more accurate, and fiscally responsible estimate of Federal spending. And we should not label military costs as emergency funds so as to avoid our responsibility to abide by the spending limitations set forth by the Congress. After years of budget gimmicks and wasteful spending, it is time to end the era of irresponsibility in Washington. In this request, we are honest about the costs we will bear as a Nation, and we will use our resources wisely and responsibly to meet the threats of our time and keep our Nation safe and secure.
Fair enough, and I suppose this couldn't have been readied for the omnibus spending bill because the Afghanistan policy review was not completed in time.
However, there is a belligerent tone in this letter that is completely reminiscent of George Bush's snotty rhetoric about "clean bills" and how the Congress has a responsibility to give him exactly what he asks for. And at least a few progressives aren't buying it:
President Barack Obama plans to request new funding from Congress for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he risks a backlash from antiwar lawmakers.
Mr. Obama is expected to seek congressional approval of $75.5 billion for the wars, perhaps as soon as Thursday. The issue is already raising tensions on Capitol Hill, especially among liberals who are sympathetic to the president's broader agenda but voice concerns about his timeline for withdrawal of troops from Iraq and his plans to beef up forces in Afghanistan.
"I can't imagine any way I'd vote for it," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat and leader in the 77-member congressional Progressive Caucus. It would be her first major break with this White House.
Ms. Woolsey fears the president's plan for Iraq would leave behind a big occupation force. She is also concerned about the planned escalation in Afghanistan. "I don't think we should be going there," she said.
Similar sentiments echo across the House. Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) said he fears Afghanistan could become a quagmire. "I just have this sinking feeling that we're getting deeper and deeper into a war that has no end," he said.
Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) dismissed Mr. Obama's plans as "embarrassingly naive," and suggested that the president is being led astray by those around him. "He's the smartest man in American politics today," Rep. Conyers said. "But he occasionally gets bad advice and makes mistakes. This is one of those instances."
Hopefully these urgent questions and concerns get addressed instead of just rubber-stamping this funding. Congress has a role to play. Shouldn't they inquire about the endemic corruption in the Afghan government and police force, and how we can possibly trust the same people to bring economic development to the nation? Can they ask about the impact of Predator drone strikes on recruitment of the Pakistani Taliban and stability of the Pakistani government? Can they request an exit strategy?
Or will there be more my-way-or-the-highway talk?