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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Democratic Blackmail: No Pork For Us, No Money For Troops

Pork is a nickname for earmarks and earmarks are spending items inserted by Congressmen and are usually specific to a Congressional district.

The other day we showed you that an omnibus bill that was being talked about by Steny Hoyer to Wapo, a bill that would lump the 11 appropriations bill that Congress is three months late in getting done, part of which is funding for our troops, all together into one massive bill, as well as adding 9,500 "earmarks" into the bill, totaling almost $9.5 billion dollars, which would have made the total around $522 billion for the omnibus.

We said it was the beginning of the end of the war funding fight.

Today, David Obey (D-Wis.), is whining to Wapo about those nasty Republicans not agreeing to all the pork and not allowing the Democrats to blackmail them with their ridiculous threats that our troops will not be funded if the Dems do not get their pork.

A Democratic deal to give President Bush some war funding in exchange for additional domestic spending appeared to collapse last night after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith.

Instead, Obey said he will push a huge spending bill that would hew to the president's spending limit by stripping it of all lawmakers' pet projects, as well as most of the Bush administration's top priorities. It would also contain no money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Absent a Republican willingness to sit down and work out a reasonable compromise, I think we ought to end the game and go to the president's numbers," Obey said. "I was willing to listen to the argument that we ought to at least add more for Afghanistan, but when the White House refuses to compromise, when the White House continues to stick it in our eye, I say to hell with it."

House Democratic leaders were scheduled to complete work last night on a $520 billion spending bill that included $11 billion in funding for domestic programs above the president's request, half of what Democrats had initially approved. The bill would have also contained $30 billion for the war in Afghanistan, upon which the Senate would have added billions more for Iraq before final congressional approval.

But a stern veto threat this weekend from White House budget director Jim Nussle put the deal in jeopardy, and Obey said he is prepared for a long standoff with the White House.

"If anybody thinks we can get out of here this week, they're smoking something illegal," he said.

So, because his attempt to blackmail the Republicans and the President didn't work, he is going to take his toys and go home?

One of the best descriptions I have seen about this Wapo article quoting David Obey, is from Strata-Sphere who likens Obey and Co. to children throwing a temper tantrum, pouting and stomping their feet.

Only a seriously self-obsessed fool would threaten the lives of our military overseas to get his way on a budget deal. But the Dems are not capable of leading. They cannot stomach the compromise required to get bills past a divided Congress. They can’t give up anything - they would rather pout to the cameras and cripple our government.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.)has already made one thing very clear:

"We have to get to a point where the American public more clearly perceives our policy position and is not confused by whether or not the Democrats intend to support the troops that we've sent to Iraq. I don't think there's an option on that," Hoyer said.

He said that as he was testing the waters to see how the public as well as the politicians would react to this omnibus bill.

Evidently it isn't working out so well.

The problem for them, one they don't seem to "get" yet, is they cannot publicly hold our troops hostage to their pork aka earmarks.

Blackmail, especially when it is our troops that are threatened by the blackmail, is not going to come out well for them at all, in the eyes of the public.

The ramifications of Congress going on their Christmas recess without funding the troops is well known already, as has been told to the public by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

All this leaves the department only with undesirable options to continue operations in the absence of a bridge fund. The path we believe is least undesirable fiscally and militarily would involve the following. The military would cease operations at all Army bases by mid-February next year. This would result in the furloughing of about 100,000 government employees and a like number of contractor employees at Army bases.

These layoffs would have a cascading effect on depots and procurements. Similar actions would follow for the Marine Corps about a month later. By law, we're required to notify certain union employees 60 days in advance, so appropriate notices would have to go out starting in mid-December.

By law, they are required to notify certain union employees 60 days in advance, which means that Congressional inability to do their jobs will have "pink slips" handed out for Christmas.

This 60 day notice law is not new, certain contracts have required it for years and Congress has been well aware of it.

Democratic politicians can make any statements to the press they want but it doesn't negate the fact that commanders have already been giving the following letters, sent on Nov. 26, 2007: (Doc. file here)

From: Cody, Richard A GEN VCSA
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2007 7:32 PM



SUBJECT: Contingency Budget Planning

REF A. SecDef Memo, 16 NOV 07, Subj: Contingency Budget Planning

REF B. SecArmy and CSA Memo, 20 NOV 07, Subj. Contingency Budget Planning

REF C. VCSA Email, 26 SEP 07, Subj. Outlook for Funding in FY 2008

1. The FY2008 DoD Appropriations Act did not provide funds for the Global
War on Terror (GWOT) and we do not know at this time when or if the GWOT
funds will be approved by Congress.

2. References A and B directed that we take immediate action to begin
planning to reduce operations at all Army bases. This message provides
instructions for developing these plans. Send your initial plans through
your RM channels. They are due on 4 DEC 2007. Your plans will be reviewed

by a G3-led task force here at HQDA.

3. This is a planning effort, repeat, a planning effort to reduce OMA
funded operations to the minimum mission essential level. Your initial
plans will identify the weekly cost to continue those OMA funded minimum
mission essential activities allowable under Feed and Forage after 23
February 08 and will include the amount of OMA funds available for return to
the Department when all other services and functions are discontinued.

Guidance in reference C stands; take no action at this time to slow any
program. Continue to execute your approved programs and do not implement
any spending restriction or reduction in the scope and pace of operations
until notified. Continue following existing guidance to review civilian
hiring actions and contracts.

4. Include these assumptions in your plans:

a. On or about 22 February 08, all distributed Operation and Maintenance,
Army (OMA) funds will be fully obligated or committed.

b. On 23 February 08, installations and commands will move to a "warm base"

status and all OMA funded activities will cease except those noted in
paragraph 4 below.

c. Civilian furloughs may last more than 30 days and therefore require a 60
day notice.

d. Military manpower, if available at your location, will be authorized to
replace civilian and contractor workforce. Military personnel other than
those preparing to deploy should be considered available.

e. Only direct funded OMA activities are affected. Programs, projects and
activities funded with other than OMA will continue as planned.

5. Your plans should identify the minimum mission essential activities
along with their estimated costs that are permissible by Feed and Forage (if
approved by OSD) and the impact of discontinuing all other services and
functions effective 23 February 08. For these planning purposes, consider
the following as minimum mission essential operations:

a. To protect the life, health and safety of occupants and residents of
Army installations.

b. To protect and maintain assets vital to the national defense.

6. Your plans should also provide a separate estimate of the weekly minimum
essential costs in order to determine what is permissible under Feed and

a. Support forces deployed overseas including Europe, Korea, Japan and
COCOM activities.

b. Prepare forces for deployment to include recruiting, individual training
and unit training.

7. The ASA(FM&C) will provide a reporting format through RM channels. You
should be prepared to report the following information:

a. Life, Health and Safety. Those activities and services and their
estimated weekly cost that must be continued to protect occupants and
residents of Army installations to include military, civilians and Family

b. Training. The amount of OMA funds by week necessary to support training
activities for deploying forces.

c. Quality of Life. Those activities and services for Soldiers and
Families that will be impacted and/or terminated once all existing OMA funds
are fully obligated or committed.

d. Depot Level Reset. To the maximum extent possible, plan to work off FY
07 carry over and new orders received from customers funded with other than
OMA appropriations. Identify the amount of OMA (both base and GWOT) by week
necessary to fund only the organic depot work required to keep production
lines operating and the total amount of OMA Reset funds available for

e. Recruiting: Report the minimum weekly cost to continue to recruit the
force and train the load.

f. Mobilization and Demobilization: Provide the weekly cost to continue
mobilization and demobilization activities to support rotations into and out
of theaters of operation.

g. Field Level Maintenance: Plan to suspend all field level maintenance
except that necessary for life, health or safety or to support the war
fight. Provide the weekly cost for the latter.

8. In the report, you will be asked to break out the activities in
paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 into these categories:

a. Civilian Personnel. Identify the number of minimum mission essential
(Life, Health and Safety) and non-mission essential civilian personnel
funded through direct OMA appropriations. You should anticipate that the
Department will issue furlough notices to civilian employees with sufficient
lead time to implement a furlough on or about 23 February 08. For foreign
national personnel, provide the equivalent of furlough procedures under the
respective Status of Forces Agreement. Identify the weekly payroll cost of
mission essential civilian personnel. Furlough dates will be provided for
US Civilian personnel by G1.

b. Contracts. Identify the total amount of OMA funds needed for minimum
mission essential contracts. Also identify the amounts that can be returned
to the Department when all other services and functions are terminated or
suspended on or about 23 February 08. Factor in termination costs before
reporting the amount available for return.

9. DoD is considering the use of other authorities, Feed and Forage for
example, to continue essential operations as directed. The ASA(FM&C) will
issue instructions on these special funding authorities. The G1 will
provide additional guidance on civilian furloughs.

10. POCs are:

The DoD, December 4, 2007:

Some members of Congress have responded by saying the Pentagon has funds to continue operations through March, but a Pentagon spokesman today said furlough notices for Army employees could start going out the middle of this month. The employees would not be furloughed until after Christmas, but some contracts require a 60-day notice if the furlough will be longer than 60 days, Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters at the Pentagon. The department is using fiscal 2008 funds – not part of the supplemental funding needed – to keep operations going in the war on terror, he explained.

“Anyone who thinks that this is not a serious situation is simply misinformed or is ignoring the facts. We have tried to be as matter of fact as we can on this, but the reality is that we are using our program budget for FY 08 … to fund our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Whitman said.

DoD is using its readiness funding, or operations and maintenance accounts, which typically pay for training, supplies, and maintenance of weapons and equipment.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates requested to shift $3.7 billion from Navy and Air Force payrolls and an $800 million excess in the working capital fund to Army and Marine Corps operations.

If funding continues to be delayed, it could affect as many as 200,000 civilian employees and contractors, DoD officials reported earlier.

They go on to report some of the actions that will have to be taken, but you can see a visual of most of them for yourself, right here.

From Federal Times, just today we see this reported:

The last thing anyone wants for Christmas is a furlough notice. But that’s just what hundreds of thousands of Defense Department civilian employees and contractors are facing.

The Defense Department is warning it may lay off employees, mostly in the Army and Marine Corps, because it will run out of money unless Congress and President Bush agree on an emergency war supplemental spending bill. The Army expects to run out of operations and maintenance funding by Feb. 23, the Marine Corps, by March 24.
As many as 200,000 Army civilian contractors and employees could be furloughed then; the Marine Corps says up to 24,000 civilian employees are threatened. The Army expects to send 60-day advance notices to affected employees the week of Dec. 17, and the Marine Corps said it must notify union leaders about planned furloughs by Christmas Eve.

“Neither contractors nor civil servants should be pawns in this process, but that’s the result of a political appropriations process,” said Alan Chvotkin, vice president of the Professional Services Council, which represents contractors.

Nice lump of coal Congress plans on sticking in those folks stockings huh?

Congressional leaders need to understand, if they do not do their job and get these funds to our troops and these layoff aka furlough notices go out, then Congress will suffer the consequences of their inaction.

If they think they have the lowest Congressional approval ratings in the history of polling for congressional approval, now.... just wait and see how much worse it gets for them.

[Update] A couple of follow up articles dealing with this topic;

First, yesterday we wrote about the pathetic attempt of to force the Democratic presidential candidates to filibuster any funds for our troops, and we told you they collected 15,000 signatures.

Today we see, the conservative answer to MoveOn, known as Freedom's Watch, delivered their own petition to Congress, namely to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), and Freedom's Watch has collected 65,000 signatures for that petition, with a help from Vets for Freedom, Gathering of Eagles, Families United and Band of Mothers.

Move on was formed in 1998, Freedom's Watch was created in 2007 and is already developing a bigger voice, following and has better organizational skills as the amount of signatures shows evidence of.

We also showed you the television ads from Freedom's Watch that NBC first rejected then reversed themselves and sent notice that they would be airing them, those ads simply thank our troops for all they do. (Both 30 second ads are at that link)

Moving right along we see a continuation in rising support for people that are seeing progress and success for Iraq as well as a slight jump in numbers for Bush.

Last but not least, Ron Christie has an op-ed in The Hill showing more success for Bush, in regards to Bush's tax cuts that have led to economic growth, low unemployment and record-high tax receipts as well as data released last week showed that America added 94,000 jobs in November 2007 — capping a remarkable 51 straight months in which jobs have been created in our economy.

Read the whole thing.