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Vitter smartly, Landrieu recklessly deals with troop issue

It is important to understand what was supported and what was not when last week the U.S. Senate voted on (a different version than did the House on) H.R. 1591 – especially since some of the senators doing the voting aren’t exactly conceptually clear on it.

The bill has three parts to it. First, it authorizes about $100 billion for war-related expenditures which best estimates show will be needed by the middle of May for current operations to remain unaffected. (The war on terror currently is being financed by supplemental appropriations like this, not through the regular budget process.) Second, it authorizes another $22 billion or so for matters entirely unrelated to prosecution of the war, including around $800 million to waive state and local government matches in Louisiana for some kinds of federal aid and $1.3 billion due to a programmatic shift of funding for flood control projects. Finally, it sets a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Louisiana’s senators provide a contrast in proper understanding and wisdom concerning this bill. Republican Sen. David Vitter voted against it, even as he supported the reauthorization and the extra funding parts of it. (The non-war-related funds are highly questionable for approval now: federal government monies pumped into Louisiana have created revenue for governments far beyond what the matching requirement is, other funds given by the federal government without strings more than make up for it as well, and the flood control money will be granted later in the year during the normal budget process as there is no urgency for it now given reconstruction timelines.)

Vitter did so because he realizes that a forced withdrawal policy is tantamount to following the Democrats’ foreign policy in regards to the war – waving the white flag of surrender unconditionally. A set deadline encourages America’s enemies to wait it out, then after American departure do their best to dismantle America’s closest Arab ally, Iraq – the strategy followed in America’s major self-inflicted wound of the 20th century, the Vietnam Conflict. To allow defeat in this theater will create a worse situation than ever for America in the region. Vitter also knew that Pres. George W. Bush surely would veto the bill as it stands precisely because of this reason, so it was a grand waste of time to even consider moving it forward.

By contrast, Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu shows no such sophistication in her vote for the measure. Wringing more money more quickly out of the federal government for Louisiana might be appealing to her, but it is reckless and irresponsible for her to do so at the cost of the country’s security. She demonstrated no grasp of this simple fact, that the vote showed those voting against it were for victory, and those like her voting for it were for defeat.

Even if, as is highly likely, the Democrat-controlled Congress is forced by veto threat or reality to send a bill to Bush without the deadline within the next 45 days for which she votes, Landrieu repeatedly on this issue has shown a serious error in judgment that once again calls into question her fitness to serve as Louisiana’s senator.

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