The Obama administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are aggressively whipping House Democrats to support the 2009 war supplemental bill that seeks to steer another $10o billion in US tax dollars into the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan while at the same time squandering at least $5 billion on the failed economic schemes of the International Monetary Fund.
But the more than 51 Democrats who opposed an earlier version of the supplemental are giving her a hard time and that's making the project a hard sell for Pelosi.
And rightly so. This is a very bad bill.
Californian Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, leading critics of the Iraq War, pointed out in a letter to their colleagues that "the primary intent of this legislation is to continue funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." That, they point out, is not what President Obama or Democrats in Congress were elected to do. "Continued funding of war operations in Iraq ensures a continued occupation thereby undermining the stated U.S. goal for withdrawal by the end of 2010," argue Woolsey and Kucinich. "Funds for Iraq should be dedicated to bringing all of our troops and contractors home immediately."
Masschusetts Congressman Jim McGovern, another anti-war Democrat, expressing concerns about the administration's push to increase the troop presence in Afghanistan, says, "As much as I love President Obama, I believe that this administration needs to come up with some benchmarks and an exit strategy."
Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur told Congressional Quarterly about personal lobbying of members by Pelosi:
Earlier this week, the Speaker approached Rep. Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio progressive who sits on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and asked Kaptur to reconsider her "no" vote.
Rather than making a case based on the policy, Kaptur said, the Speaker asserted that Obama and congressional Democrats needed to clear the decks of "the last old business" left over from the Bush administration.
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Kaptur was unmoved.
"I don't agree with her analysis that we're cleaning up for Bush," said Kaptur, who worries that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are too costly and that the administration lacks a plan for success in Afghanistan. "This is Obama's first chance. This is his first wave."
The questioning of the war is appropriate and necessary.
But it is also right to question the money for the IMF, which Kucinich and California Congressman Bob Filner, another Democrat, worry could be part of a broader scheme to "bail out private European banks with U.S. taxpayer money."
Even if the money goes straight into IMF coffers for its loan programs, that's a problem, as the IMF continues to pressure countries around the world to cut social services and undermine infrastructure as part of wrongheaded "structural adjustment" initiatives.
As of now, the word is that the conference report on the war supplemental will reach the floor early next week.
That means that lobbying of members this weekend could be crucial.
As Kucinich says, "From what I can see, [members who so far have refused to bow to pressure from the administration and Pelosi] are concerned about going home and having to explain why they voted for the war when their constituents are opposed to it..."
Opponents of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and of unsound economic strategies, should feed those concerns by telling their representatives to vote "No" to war and the IMF.