Barbara Lee Introduces A Bill To End The War In Afghanistan-- And Sends Up A Major Red Flag
Yesterday I went to a meeting with one of the country's most outstanding and most inspiring progressive leaders, Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, she was a leader of the controversial move that had progressives banding together to demand a public option in order to secure the progressive bloc's support for reform at all. And she was the leader-- even more difficult than being "a" leader-- when it came to opposing Bush's wars in the Middle East. Last June she was one of the 32 Democratic members of Congress to vote against Obama's supplemental war budget. And Thursday, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, she introduced HR 3699, a bill that will prohibit funding any increase in the number of members of the United States Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
However, something she told me at the meeting yesterday put me on DefCon-5 alert. The House has already passed (with Lee in opposition of course)-- and the Senate is considering-- a bill that will exempt Department of Defense from coming under the budgetary pay-go strictures. Let me explain why that is so dangerous for those eager to end the deadly and catastrophic U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.
Bush funded his wars with supplemental budgets which meant he just printed money-- trillions of dollars-- to pay for them without having to worry about raising taxes (on current voters) or about cutting services directly. One result has been the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Obama campaigned on a promise not use supplemental budgets but to ask Congress for money through established budgetary procedures. That would kick in pay-go and a member of Congress voting for funds to escalate expensive occupations of other countries would have to agree to either raise taxes on his or her constituents-- what do you think Boehner, Cantor, Pence, Ryan and other leading GOP warmongers will think of that?-- or cut back on social programs, a prospect none too attractive to many of the conservative and moderate Democrats who have gone along with Bush's outrageous supplemental budgeting and are thereby complicit in the economic disaster that has ensued.
I really thought "pay-go" was our ace-in-the-hole to stop the war in Afghanistan. Not even a political thug like Rahm Emanuel could bully and bribe enough Democrats and Republicans to go for this, especially not at a point when the war is as increasingly unpopular as it is. If the Senate doesn't kill the legislation that the House passed, it is, in effect, a vote for a war that will last until Obama is voted out of office. Please help Blue America build and strengthen a coalition of anti-war Democrats in Congress by contributing to No Means No. (Everyone who donates today has their name entered in a drawing to win two items autographed by Al Franken, a copy of the book The Truth... With Jokes and a copy of a rare advance screener for his DVD God Spoke.