All But 32 House Dems Back Bad Wars, Big Banks
Thirty-two Democrats broke with the Obama administration and House Democratic leaders Tuesday to oppose a $106 billion supplemental appropriation to maintain the occupation of Iraq, surge more troops into the quagmire that is Afghanistan and fund the International Monetary Funds anti-social policies of forcing developing countries to sacrifice programs for the poor in order to bail out big banks.
But that wasn't enough to block approval of the measure.
The final vote was 226 in favor of the supplemental, 202 against.
The bill passed with Democratic votes -- 221 Democrats backed it, along with 5 Republicans.
The spending scheme was opposed by 170 Republicans. Most, although not all of the Republican "no" votes were cast for the wrong reasons of knee-jerk opposition to the Obama administration, foreign aid and environmental programs. (There were the usual exceptions, such as Ron Paul of Texas. John Duncan of Tennessee and Walter Jones of North Carolina.)
Joining the Republicans in voting "no" were the 32 Democrats, many of the them closely associated with Progressive Democrats of America, which aggressively lobbied against the supplemental.
The Democrats who broke with the administration were:
Arizona's Raul Grijalva.
Californian's Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Brad Sherman, Jackie Speier, Pete Stark, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson and Lynn Woolsey.
Colorado's Jared Polis.
Florida's Alan Grayson.
Maine's Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree.
Maryland's Donna Edwards.
Massachusetts' Michael Capuano, Jim McGovern, John Tierney and Nikki Tsongas.
Michigan's John Conyers.
Minnesota's Keith Ellison.
New Hampshire's Carol Shea-Porter.
New Jersey's Donald Payne.
New York's Eric Massa and Jose Serrano.
Ohioans Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich.
Texan Lloyd Doggett.
Vermont's Peter Welch.
Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin.
Notable names on the list of "no" votes are those of new members, such as California's Speier, Colorado's Polis, Maine's Pingree, Maryland's Edwards, Minnesota's Ellison, New Hampshire's Shea-Porter, New York's Massa and Vermont's Welch, House freshmen and sophomores who resisted intense pressure on newer members -- who may still be looking for leadership assistance when it comes to committee assignments and reelection races -- to vote the administration line.
Their opposition to the an exceptionally bad proposal was appropriate -- and perhaps even heroic in the face of threats by the administration and House leaders. But it was not sufficient to block an initiative that extends wars and global poverty.
Dozens of Democrats who were elected on anti-war platforms -- including 19 caucus members who opposed the supplemental when an earlier version came before the House in May -- cast disappointing votes. And those disappointing votes have consequences. Among the disappointing Democrats who caved to the pressure to "back the president" were members who have usually been in the anti-war camp, such as Hawaii's Neil Abercrombie and Illinoisan Jesse Jackson Jr. and Jan Schakowsky, all of whom were early and enthusiastic backers of Obama's presidential campaign.
Now, they are backers of Obama's wars. Indeed, as Jane Hamsher, who waged a spirited campaign to get Democrats to oppose the supplemental observed after the overwhelming majority fell in line with another misguided president: "Yeah. It's a Democratic war now."
It's also the Democrats bailout of some of the biggest banks in Europe. Those banks are in financial trouble because they made risky -- and ultimately unsustainable -- loans in Eastern Europe. But, with an assist from the Obama administration and a Democratic Congress, the foreign banks will get a bailout, with U.S. tax dollars funneled through the IMF.
As Dean Baker explains:
The basic problem is simple. The West European bankers proved to be every bit as stupid as the Robert Rubin-Citigroup crew in dishing out loans. The main outlet for their bad loans was Eastern Europe, where they made enormous loans denominated in euros.
It is very difficult for the countries of Eastern Europe to maintain their exchange rates against the euro without large amounts of assistance. However, if they let their currencies fall against the euro, then the default rates on the loans from Western European banks will explode.
Of course West Europe is rich enough to bail out its own banks, but the governments in countries like France and Germany know that their people will not stand for this sort of handout. In steps the IMF...
With money from U.S. taxpayers, the IMF will protect the European banks, thus allowing the governments of France and Germany to spend precious resources on job-creation and social programs -- rather than bank bailouts.
And what do Americans who voted for Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress to end wars and focus on human needs rather than the demands of bank speculators? Another $106 billion in useless debt.
© 2009 The Nation