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The continued war in Iraq and the constant state of emergency has allowed Congress to use these so-called "emergency" bills as a vehicle to dramatically increase spending across the board – including spending that does not meet even the most generous definition of emergency. For example, the spending proposals currently being considered by Congress provide $210 million to the Census Bureau and $4 million for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. $4.6 billion is requested for the closing of military bases, but not any of the more than 700 bases overseas – bases here at home! Another $387 million would go to various international organizations and $850 million more just in international food aid – all this when food prices are skyrocketing here and American families are having a hard time making ends meet. Because this spending will be part of "emergency" measures, it will not count against debt ceilings, or any spending limits set by congressional budget resolutions, and does not have to be offset in any way.
Explosive growth of government is just another tragedy of this war. The "bipartisan" compromises made in Washington are at the expense of the taxpayer, not in the interest of fiscal responsibility or peace. The taxpayer loses, and government grows.
The bottom line is that our dollar is falling, the economy is in rough shape, and government spending is wildly out of control. Congress argues over relatively minor details, instead of dramatically changing our flawed foreign policy. We need to bring our troops home, not only from Iraq and Afghanistan, but from South Korea, Germany, and the other 138 countries where we have troops stationed. Our foreign policy of interventionism is not only offensive to others, inviting further terrorist attacks, but it is ruining our economy as we tax, borrow, and print the money to pay the bills of our empire. The economy and ultimately the American people suffer because Washington is refusing to adopt more sensible and constitutional policies.
The package includes three separate amendments: $169 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through part of next year; more than $25 billion in new domestic spending; and language that sets a goal for the president to transition troops out of a military role in Iraq by June 2009.
The Senate is expected to ultimately reject the war policy amendment, which also includes a ban on permanent military bases in Iraq and language to give troops longer lag time in between troop deployments.
Bush has vowed to veto any bill that exceeds $178 billion for the wars through the rest of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, and for part of fiscal year 2009. He has called on Congress to keep the bill free of domestic add-ons, but Democrats are daring him to veto the bill at a time when a growing number of Americans are concerned about the economy and the direction of the country.
For instance, Congress including in the domestic-programs amendment a provision that would help pave the way for undocumented agriculture workers to win legal status, an amendment that could reopen Congress’ rancorous debate over immigration policy.
The supporters of the so-called Ag-Jobs measure, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho), say the five-year program is needed to keep farms operating and crops growing. The provision was added by a 17-12 vote.
But critics say that it amounts to amnesty for people who entered the country illegally, and warn that it could imperil support for the underlying bill.
Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a conservative Democrat who voted against the Feinstein-Craig amendment, said it raises a “red flag.”