06.28.2010 0

Troops’ Funding Held Hostage by Public Sector Union Politics

By Bill Wilson

A $33 billion war supplemental to fund ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is being held up by House Democrats who want to attach $10 billion for bankrupt states like New York and California that refuse to cut unsustainable education funding in these troubled economic times.

Basically, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Appropriations Chairman David Obey are holding back critical resources from our fighting men and women on the front lines so they can swindle another $10 billion from taxpayers for a public teacher union bailout.

House Democrats know the bailout is an unpopular measure, which is why they would prefer to attach it to a must-pass war-funding bill. They have even slashed the proposal from an original $23 billion to placate Blue Dog Democrats who do not want to be tied to the measure in what promises to be a brutal election season featuring a debt-weary public.

Although it had been widely expected that the supplemental would be brought up last week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer cancelled Friday business — probably because House Republicans promised to vote “present” if the $10 billion states bailout was attached. Without Republican support for the supplemental, Hoyer would have needed liberal Democrats — who oppose the war — to vote for the supplemental.

House Republican Leader John Boehner is to be praised for standing against the bailout for unions, which want the funds in order to keep the flow of dues money liquid. Those dues finance Democrat political operations in key districts. So, the relentless drive for this money is to keep Democrats in the game for the elections.

The American people are rightly incensed by the ongoing bailouts made by Pelosi’s House to Democrat constituent groups like the public sector unions while everyone else has to tighten their belts. She may want to force taxpayers from solvent states to pay for government jobs for which there is no revenue in insolvent ones. But the bailout is really not much more than a cynical ploy to have taxpayers fund Democrat machine politics — and the people know it.

Meanwhile, the nation’s servicemen and women are being held hostage until the unions get what they want. It is little more than blackmail.

Defense Secretary Bob Gates is so anxious over the state of the supplemental that he testified to the Senate that he is “becoming increasingly concerned” by the delay. As reported by The Hill, “If Congress does not approve the funding by July 4, he warned, the Pentagon would have to start scaling back defense operations.”

“We begin to have to do stupid things if the supplemental isn’t passed by the Fourth of July recess,” The Hill reports Gates saying at the June 16th hearing. How stupid? The Defense Department would be forced to pull money from other operations in the base defense budget, causing more disruptions.

“[W]e could have a situation where we are furloughing civilians and where we have active-duty military we cannot pay,” Gates said.

With fresh concerns over the strategy in Afghanistan, Democrats must consider whether they really want to hold back war funding over an unpopular domestic policy priority — bailing out bankrupt state governments like New York and California. After all, it is a measure that could easily be voted on up-or-down separately.

The choice is theirs, but now is not the time to play politics with the war supplemental and the security of our troops in harm’s way. To do so is to play with fire.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

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