Monday, November 12, 2007

Congressional Democrats in Spending Standoff With Bush.

If they weren't spending all their time voting for meaningless resolutions, they might have had a funding bill by now:

President Bush may have lost a veto battle last week on a water projects bill, but GOP allies in Congress are sticking with him in another, bigger veto showdown over government spending.

Democrats are struggling to draw up a playbook to finish this year's spending bills for Cabinet departments, the most basic job of Congress. While the new budget year began Oct. 1, Democrats have completed action on just two bills -- funding defense and health and education programs.

Some of the Democrats' early decisions have appeared to cede even more leverage to Bush, while internal divisions within the party have contributed to the delays in getting bills finished and sent to the White House.

On three votes last week, House and Senate Republicans stood with Bush to demonstrate they will sustain his looming veto of the health and education spending bill, a top Democratic priority.

As Republicans learned so painfully when President Clinton used veto after veto to beat them during the 1990s, the veto pen is the ultimate weapon in legislative warfare. And its power is especially potent in situations like the present, which deals with spending bills for agency budgets that lawmakers are eager to pass.


But in a move that left some Congress-watchers scratching their heads, Democrats have given up much of what leverage they had by sending Bush the only spending bill he really seems to care about, a $471 billion budget for the Pentagon. There had been speculation they would hold the measure in reserve to try to force the White House to negotiate, but with that bill in hand, Bush is free to play hardball on the rest.

Maybe they're smart enough to realize that the Republicans would charge them with playing politics with the safety of the troops. It would be all over the Internet like wildfire that the Democrats love pork more than the troops. I would certainly be saying it :-)

If Pelosi was as good as her press, she would have taken hold of the reigns and gotten the bills put together sooner so that she wouldn't look so inept. It's a testimony to her leadership skills that the budget is so late.

Plus the Democrats have given the Republicans a huge campaign issue by demonstrating that they really are the tax and spend party. And as the last election demonstrated, I don't think the people are in the mood for more taxes no matter what they're getting.