Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Daily Strike-4/9/09-War's Beginnings and Ends

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. I will start out by saying that I would have much rather been at President Obama's Passover seder than my LSAT class. Let's take a look at the day in politics.

WAR: Today, the President officially requested $83.4 billion to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of the fiscal year (September 30th). The funds will be needed around Memorial Day, when funds appropriated last year begin to run out. Most of the funding will be for operations and personnel. Additional funding is included for equipment and intelligence, including new money for counter terrorism operations in Pakistan. This, hopefully, will be the last time that Obama will have to request "supplemental" war funding from Congress. Bush always pretended like these wars were "emergencies" so that his budget proposals would look more "fiscally responsible." Obama has included war costs in his Fiscal Year 2010 budget request.

Remember the battles in 2007 over war funding? Democrats tried to attach withdrawal language to supplemental funding bills, Bush vetoed them, the Democrats caved, the war continued etc. Well now, the funding battle will take on a different tone. For starters, Obama at least has some semblance of an end-game in Iraq, and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan. Second, Obama is a fundamentally anti-war President at his core, so Democrats in Congress trust that he won't use this money to escalate pointless wars to further the vague and unreachable goal of "victory against terrorism."

Still, there will be some definite political wrangling over this money. I expect some serious resistance from liberals, especially in the House. These liberals are justifiably worried, particularly about increasing troop levels in Afghanistan. Iraq war critic, and Vietnam veteran Rep. John Murtha said today that "“I have great concern about adding any forces. I’ve said over and over again, it took me 15 years to realize that adding troops in Vietnam did not win the war for us.” Obama doesn't seem to be attaching any benchmarks to this funding (at least as of yet), so liberals may feel like they're just throwing more money down a black hole. Look for staunch anti-war Reps. Barbara Lee (CA), Maxine Waters (CA), Jan Schakowski (IL), Dennis Kucinich (OH), Ron Paul (TX-yes that Ron Paul) and Senators Russ Feingold (WI) and Barbara Boxer (CA) to vote against, if not lead a charge, against increased war spending.

I assume that Republicans won't have a problem spending this money. They seem to be less impulsively critical of Obama's Afghanistan and Iraq policies than they are of his other policies. They also never saw a war funding request from Bush that they didn't like. There are a select few Republicans, like Paul, Jimmy Duncan (TN), Walter Jones (NC), who will vote against the money because they are both fiscal conservatives and principally against the war. A few more, surely, will vote against it because it originated from the Obama White House. Ultimately, I expect the money to be approved pretty easily. I just hope that Congressional liberals hold Obama's feet to the fire, especially on Afghanistan.

VETERANS HEALTH CARE: If we continue to send troops to foreign wars, we will need a strengthened Veterans Health Care system. Today, President Obama took an important step in improving the quality of care for returning soldiers. The plan centers around new electronic records system that would track all service members, both active and inactive. The new technology will help stop delays and backlogs in the VA system. The VA has always been a guinea pig of sorts for health care policy ideas, so maybe this electronic records system can make it's way into our new public health system! I'm glad Obama made this announcement. A few weeks ago he completely screwed up by even mentioning an idea to have private companies pay for veterans' health care. It's not good, morally or politically, to have the veterans against you.


-No news from the NY20 Congressional race. They just started counting absentee ballots, we'll keep you posted.

-An article in the New York Times yesterday stated that Obama plans to push for immigration reform later this year. Critics will say, again, that Obama is trying to do too much. There are legitimate concerns of anti-immigrant sentiment being more prevalent during a recession, which would make reform more difficult. As The Big Picture pointed out, though, it would fulfill the Glenn Beck/Bill O'Reilly nightmare of more Hispanics being permanently endowed to the Democratic Party. Anything that makes Beck and O'Reilly worry must be good, right?
That's it for tonight. You have ONE more day to get your comments included as part of tomorrow's Daily Strike. Are you seriously going to bypass this opportunity? Also, we've been stuck on 12 followers for awhile. If you are not already a follower of the blog, make yourself one. If you are, send some friends the link.

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