Moment Of Truth

It’s not been a full week since President Bush vetoed a $35 Billion dollar bill that would have provided healthcare coverage for up to 10 million children.  Apparently, America couldn’t afford to cover kids for medical care, but our wallets grow immeasurably deep when it comes to the continued funding for the war, or at least that is what the President believes.

He’s just asked for $45.9 billion more.

It’s hard not to ignore the disparity in attention.  Nearly fifty billion for his ongoing vanity war is fine, but not even forty billion for children here at home is just too heavy of a burden for us to pay.  It really makes you wonder what is going on in his head.  Still, the move is not unexpected.

What this is, however, is a moment of truth.  It is a moment of truth for the Democratic Leadership in Congress.  They are rapidly running out of chances to get this issue right, and while all we might EXPECT to see is more bluster in words, with more subservience in actions, there is still hope that they may take a stand.

Just not that much.

Where our eyes should turn to, however, is Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin who weeks ago made a promise.

Let’s step back and look at the effort to end the war. This week we have seen Democratic Reps. David Obey, Jack Murtha and Jim McGovern propose a bill that would force President Bush to raise taxes if he wants to continue spending money on a war in Iraq – a brilliant political move and commonsense policy. In the face of a recent Roll Call story headlined “GOP Forced to Pivot on Taxes – Polls Say Issue Losing Power,” this proposal is stunning only for how modest it is – especially considering that even Sen. Joseph Lieberman has endorsed the concept behind it, as has Republicans like New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg and North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones.

Obey has also indicated that as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he will use his position to block any blank check war funding bill from coming to the floor of Congress. It shows a recognition of the Tyranny of the Tiny Minority that I outlined in my last syndicated column – the tyranny that means that Congress will need to stop something, rather than pass something, in order to end the war. And stopping funding, incidentally, is an idea that the latest Washington Post poll shows the public supports.

This is truly Obey’s moment of truth, his opportunity to change the tide in the war to end the war.  Holding this bill back will be difficult; it makes appropriations for the MRAPs, the armored Humvees that improve chances for survival when struck by a roadside bomb, as well as increases funding for disabled veterans.  There’s a lot of political hay to be weathered for opposing this bill.

Yet, using this bill to force Bush’s hand is within the realm of possibility, and this is what Obey has pledged to do.  There is not much for the rest of us to do but to sit and see if he stands up.

Well, that’s not exactly true.  I’ve said this time and again, we need to give our elected officials, those we put in office to fight for us, we need to give them a reason to fight.  It is my belief that it is not merely enough to yell at them when they screw up but to encourage them as they prepare to do what is right, let them know that when they make the tough calls, there will be people standing behind them to push them up.  So there is something you can do, you can contact Rep. Obey, thank him for his pledge, and let him know that he’s doing the right thing.

One Response to “Moment Of Truth”

  1. Mick Arran says:

    Second Kyle’s conclusion. The scuttlebutt is that Obey has been under enormous pressure from Donkey leaders to back down. He could use all the support he can get.

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