Saturday, November 27, 2010

Obama Pushes START Treaty Ratification in Lame Duck Session

Happy Lame Duck session season. Are you feeling all warm and fuzzy about the elected officials in Washington doing the peoples' business? No? Well, you are not alone. In case you missed it, President Obama told the American people in his weekly address to the nation that his top priority is making sure the START treaty is ratified in the Senate. Got that?

We are seven weeks over a standard fiscal deadline that our government must meet to appropriate funds for a federal budget. A continuing resolution secures the process of our government continuing to run as needed. This congress - run solely by Democrats who pledged all kinds of gobbledy gook about balanced budgets and PAYGO and transparency - has failed to get a budget passed for the first time in decades. There's some change for you! Not to mention that the tax code that has been in effect for the past ten years contains tax breaks set to expire in January, before the next Congress is sworn in. Yet, no urgency there. The Democrats stubbornly went home rather than deal with the issue. All taxes will go up and the sticking point is what Obama refers to as "millionaires and billionaires" - those making over $250,000 per year. Is that the cut-off you think of when you image a millionaire or billionaire? A temporary deal of extending the tax breaks for two years can't even be agreed upon.

Isn't is amusing that the very Democrats who ballooned our federal deficit by tripling it over the last eighteen months with bail-outs and spending now say we can't afford tax breaks as a nation? Yeah amusing if it weren't so sad.

Congress is killing time in the Lame Duck session re-naming post offices and honoring golfers and college football coaches. No time for tax rate votes.

In case you have been a bit distracted lately - and who hasn't - the Cold War is over. We have a previous Republican president to thank for wrapping that up. Mr. Gorbachev tore down his wall. During 1989 and 1990, the Berlin Wall came down, borders opened, and free elections ousted Communist regimes everywhere in eastern Europe. In late 1991 the Soviet Union itself dissolved into its component republics. With stunning speed, the Iron Curtain was lifted and the Cold War came to an end.

Obama's argument for a renewed urgency to pass the treaty - oh wait. That assumes there was an urgency when it was negotiated earlier this year. No such urgency has reared its head until now. Interesting, no? Now all of a sudden it is crucial that the Senate ratifies the treaty in a Lame Duck session. Obama frames it along the lines of our ability to verify Russian nuclear weapon activity.

That is precisely what the New START Treaty does. After nearly a full year of negotiations, we completed an agreement earlier this year that cuts by a third the number of long-range nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles that the United States and Russia can deploy, while ensuring that America retains a strong nuclear deterrent, and can put inspectors back on the ground in Russia.

The Treaty also helped us reset our relations with Russia, which led to concrete benefits. For instance, Russia has been indispensable to our efforts to enforce strong sanctions on Iran, to secure loose nuclear material from terrorists, and to equip our troops in Afghanistan

Reset our relations with Russia? That is a slap at the Bush administration. How amateurish of him. But after the stupid and embarrassing "reset" button presented as her first big meeting as our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton quickly learned that the Russians just laugh at us anyway. With Putin still controlling Russia and the continued business between them and Iran and other enemies, what is to be accomplished that has to be done so quickly?

This START treaty deserves scrutiny. Obama promptly reneging on a budding security agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic who are strong, trusted friends to the U.S. yet thrown under the bus by the new President as he cancelled the work done by the Bush administration. He wanted no part of Bush policy as far as missile defense goes. It was a childish and short sighted move on his part.

From 2009: On September 17, President Barack Obama officially announced that he would abandon the Eastern European missile-shield program, thus scrapping the treaties Gorge W. Bush had signed with Poland and the Czech Republic. The decision has drawn expressions of dismay from the governments of both countries.

This was a big,deep bow to Russia. What did it accomplish? More of slapping our friends and trusted allies while rolling over for those untrustworthy. The Senate is right to take its time and assure our friends of our support when it is needed.

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