Saturday, June 09, 2007

Use the Power of the Purse

For my first political post at SteveAudio, I'll recycle one that is still very relevant that Steve liked on The Daily Docket:

U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid is mad now but maybe not quite mad enough.
In his remarks, Reid criticized Bush and called Vice President Dick Cheney the president's "chief attack dog," lacking in credibility.

I hope he is madder than the reporter who wrote this thinks:

There is far less certainty about the next steps in the historic wartime confrontation between Congress and commander in chief. Reid and other Democrats have said repeatedly they will not leave the troops without the funds they need, but they have not said whether they will first force Bush to veto at least one more bill before sending him legislation he finds acceptable.

To hell with sending the most stupidly stubborn President I've ever seen "legislation he finds acceptable."

Congress, use the power of the purse granted you in the U.S. Constitution to safeguard against continuing executive branch follies. Further food for thought:

Democratic aides said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reid hope to clear the measure through both houses by Friday and send it to Bush by early next week for his expected veto. The Democratic leaders have not said whether they will attempt to override the veto in what would be a largely symbolic act given the number of Republicans who have said they will back the president.

Here's the skinny. It's not necessary to override Bush's veto to get the job done that the American people changed control of Congress to the Democrats to achieve: ending this idiotic war ASAP. All that's necessary is for the House and/or Senate to refuse to fund the war at all, if Bush rejects Congress' ultimate control under the Constitution of whether war is to be waged or not and for how long.

The numbers game here is that a resolution declaring war or authorizing the use of force is treated the same as a "bill" in Constitutional terms, and a resolution repealing or modifying same is also treated the same as a "bill." And either kind of resolution is subject to Presidential veto. From Article I of our federal Constitution:

Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

Thus we find ourselves recurrently in the situation where it only requires a majority in both houses of Congress to get us into war (presuming no Presidential veto of the resolution) but it requires a two-thirds majority in both houses to end or modify a war if the President vetoes same. Future generations would be well-advised to insist on an automatic expiration of such declarations and authorizations, a "sunset" provision, under which continuing a war would become illegal and unauthorized (and possibly criminalized) unless Congress renews the declaration or authorization.

The silver lining in this cloud is that either house of Congress can end or seriously curtail a war in progress simply by refusing to fund it any longer. And it only requires a majority in either house to defeat passage of a bill continuing funding for a war.

Lest you knee-jerk that this is an un-American thing to do, ask yourself why the Founding Fathers wrote this provision into the Constitution:

Section 8

The Congress shall have Power ...

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; ...

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces....

Now let's deconstruct another of our dunce President's propaganda statements:

I will strongly reject an artificial timetable (for) withdrawal and/or Washington politicians trying to tell those who wear the uniform how to do their job[.]

OK, what makes a Congressional timetable "artificial"? Now isn't Bush a Washington politician too, if any of the members of Congress are? Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution expressly commands civilian power over the military. Ergo, the President is a civilian as well as a "Washington politician." And how can the United States Congress ever end a war, which is its Constitutional prerogative, when a President is unwilling to disengage, unless Congress provides a definite or even conditional time for withdrawal that is binding?

I have little hope that the two U.S. Senators from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, will help get our soldiers out of the Iraq morass.

But I hope and trust that the new Congressman from the Ninth District of Tennessee will take the principled stand he voiced during his campaign and not sully his hands with this crazy war. Make Georgie Porgie blink first, Steve Cohen.

If George Bush rejects Congressional authority to end the war while funding the troops' safe exit, then any future deaths of American soldiers in Iraq will be solely George Bush's doing.

Congress, if Bush vetoes your end-the-war bill, please, for the sake of our republic, do not continue funding this slaughter. Force Bush to withdraw our soldiers, because that would be truly supporting the troops while refusing to continue to support this great mistake of a war. And it would be supporting the Constitutional principles upon which our nation was founded.