Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Campaign Trail and Revisiting $87 billion

Yesterday John Kerry continued to question the support the Bush Administration is giving our soldiers in the Middle East and our reasons for going to war. Vice President Dick Cheney fired back a few hours later. Cheney called into question Kerry voting against the $87 billion dollar 'Iraqi Supplemental Bill' for Halliburton Iraqi reconstruction and support of our troops. Wesley Clark joined the fray as well, calling Cheney's remarks, "unwarranted & unjustified."

Since we are going to hear plenty about the $87 Billion dollars in the coming months let's review again what it was actually intended to do and what Ted Kennedy (one of only 12 Senators to vote against the bill) had to say about it in October 2003:

All the administration's rationalizations as we prepared to go to war now stand revealed as "double talk." The American people were told Saddam Hussein was building nuclear weapons. He was not. We were told he had stockpiles of other weapons of mass destruction. He did not. We were told he was involved in 9/11. He was not. We were told Iraq was attracting terrorists from al Qaeda. It was not. We were told our soldiers would be viewed as liberators. They are not. We were told Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction. It cannot. We were told the war would make America safer. It has not. . . .

So when the roll is called on this $87 billion legislation, which provides no effective conditions for genuine international participation and a clear change in policy in Iraq, I intend to vote no. A no vote is not a vote against supporting our troops. It is a vote to send the administration back to the drawing board. It is a vote for a new policy -- [a] policy worthy of the sacrifice our soldiers are making, a policy that restores America as a respected member of the family of nations, a policy that will make it easier, not far more difficult, to win the war against terrorism.

The amount of money is huge. It is 87 times what the federal government spends annually on after-school programs. It is seven times what President Bush proposed to spend on education for low-income schools in 2004. It is nine times what the federal government spends on special education each year. It is eight times what the government spends to help middle- and low-income students go to college. It is 15 times what the government spends on cancer research. It is 27 times what the government spends on substance abuse and mental health treatment. . . .

Here at home, all Americans are being asked to bear the burden, too -- and they deserve more than a phony summons to support our troops by pursuing policies that will only condemn them to greater and greater danger. Yes, we must stay the course -- but not the wrong course.

I look forward to the day when our nominee will debate with the President about the direction our country is going and the President's policies on pre-emptive war, unilateralism and out-sourcing. If any lessons were learned, the outcome could very well be different.

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