Greg Sargent taps his inside sources to report Congressional negotiations with the White House have completely broken down.
Here's the situation in a nutshell, as best as we understand it. The White House says it simply won't accept any sort of timetable, even a waivable one. It says it won't accept any kind of benchmarks for progress in Iraq if there are any consequences for not meeting them.Is anybody surprised? Bush has made clear from the get go that he won't sign anything but a blank check.
So aside from sending the bill back there are only two apparent possibilities left: Either the White House gives on one of these points. Or the Dem Congressional leadership caves and produces a bill funding the war until, say, September, with some sort of benchmarks but no accountability -- in other words, something that's effectively meaningless.There's a third choice that doesn't seem to occur to our legislators. The Dems big concern in this political gamesmanship that passes for governance is to avoid the appearance that the Republicans were the "bi-partisan" brokers of a meaningless deal. Well here's a thought, how about the Dems simply stand on principle and put forward a bill with meaningful metrics and let the GOPers vote it down?
This is not rocket science. You have a president who gave away $929 billion in tax breaks to the wealthy and is threatening to veto another bill because it would give a pitiful extra $6 a month to our troops who are fighting and dying for his imperial occupation and the Democrats are worried that they'll be the ones who look like they're not supporting our soldiers? This is exactly the kind of namby-pamby handwringing that allowed the GOP to paint the party as a bunch of weak-kneed, indecisive idiots and has thrown their approval into the dumper with our Reckless Leader.
The solution to this standoff couldn't be more obvious. Screw appearances and take a stand dammit. Show the voters they care more about the welfare of the country than their own political skin. Let the wingnuts shriek about the death of the Democratic party. They're loud but they're a minority now. In the long run, a meaningful bill will gain the respect of the majority of Americans who have had enough of the occupation and are sick and tired of Beltway shenanigans.
Passing nothing is better than sending a meaningless bill to the White House. If the Democrats can't pass a bill by Memorial Day as promised, let it be because the Republicans still refuse to hold the madman they put into office accountable. The blood will be on their hands and the Democrats should point out just as loudly and often as possible that they are trying to support our troops by demanding a meaningful measure of progress and definitive end plan. Anything less will simply reinforce the vision of Democrats as cringing cowards.