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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Démocrates et républicains votent le budget de guerre de Bush

by Jacques Coubard

Published in l'Humanité on 20 December 2007

Democrats and Republicans Vote for Bush’s War Budget

Translated Sunday 30 December 2007, by Jonathan Pierrel

United-States. Unexpected success for the American President. The Senate ratifies his military expenses.

Bush received his Christmas present from the Senate: the capitulation of the Democrats. On Tuesday 18 December, the war budget that he demanded in order to pursue operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has been voted by 70 votes against 25. He has even been allowed a 70 billion supplement he added to the cost of occupation. The House of Representatives had to announce their decision before they took a two-week leave.

The President had threatened to veto any proposition from the Democrats to withdraw US troops from Iraq. Such an amendment had been rejected twice by majorities which included Democrats who govern the Senate. These Democrats joined with the Republicans, under the banner reading “the troops must not be left on the battlefield without the necessary funds” at a time when progress in Iraq is being made, according to the theme drummed out over the past weeks by the official propaganda.

Four of the Democrat candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, did not leave their campaign platforms to take part in the debate. Only Edward Kennedy, who advocates binding the budget to a withdrawal within nine months, said in vain: "When is enough enough? I urge my colleagues to vote against this gigantic blank cheque."

With 3,000 billion dollars, the war budget exceeds those which had been swallowed up in the Korean and Vietnam War. This will contribute to the boom of an already-considerable deficit. The concerns come from the widespread bankruptcies of owners of houses bought on sub-prime mortgages. The cost of medical care has suddenly changed the priorities of the electorate. In a month, according to an ABC survey, the number of people who consider the economy and employment as top priorities went from 14% to 24%, whereas Iraq went down from 29% to 23%. This change would partly explain the increase of Barack Obama’s popularity, to the detriment of Hillary Clinton’s, in the primary election on 8 January in New Hampshire. On his blog, Karl Rove, the former electoral strategist of Bush, advices Republican candidates not to be shy on subjects which will dominate the presidential campaign: “employment, economy, taxes.”

He has been listened to, even though no major disruption has been noticed in the decisions made by candidates who actually show a consensus with respect to their fundamentally neo-liberal political philosophy. This will not contribute to clearing up heavy mortgages which weigh on the future. This vote could well turn out to be a poisoned gift.

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